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Keywords:

  • swim bladder;
  • posterior lateral line nerve;
  • nurseryfish;
  • mechanosensory;
  • peripheral auditory structure

Abstract

The morphology of the swim bladder and inner ear of the nurseryfish, Kurtus gulliveri, appear adapted for enhanced pressure wave reception. The saccule is enlarged and surrounded by very thin bone and two large fontanelles that would present reduced resistance to pressure waves. The swim bladder is elaborate, with six dorsolaterally projecting pairs of lobes that are tightly encased in ribs and an additional caudally projecting pair of lobes encased in the first hemal spine. The ribs and musculature surrounding the swim bladder laterally are very thin, so that four or five “rib windows” are readily apparent on back-lit specimens. This swim bladder–rib configuration would also present reduced resistance to pressure waves to enhance function as a peripheral auditory structure. However, high-resolution X-ray computed tomography and dissection reveal no anterior projections of the swim bladder that could serve as a mechanical coupling to the inner ear. The posterior lateral line nerve is well developed and lies directly over the tips of the ribs encasing the swim bladder lobes. This nerve is not, however, associated with a lateral line canal and a lateral line canal is absent on most of the body. We hypothesize that the posterior lateral line nerve transmits mechanosensory information from the swim bladder. J. Morphol. 260:193–200, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.