Formation of the chondrocranium of Trachemys scripta (Reptilia: Testudines: Emydidae) and a comparison with other described turtle taxa

Authors

  • Frank J. Tulenko,

    1. Department of Biology, John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio 4411
    2. Department of Biology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut 06459-0170
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  • Christopher A. Sheil

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio 4411
    • Department of Biology, John Carroll University, 20700 North Park Boulevard, University Heights, OH 44118
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Abstract

Few descriptions of the formation of the chelonian chondrocranium exist. Herein, developmental stages critical to the formation of the chondrocranium of the Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta (Testudines: Emydidae), are described and illustrated, with particular attention given to ontogenetic changes that take place in the orbitotemporal region of the skull. Morphological descriptions are based on cleared and double-stained and serially-sectioned embryos. These specimens allowed for a detailed evaluation of the developmental morphology of the trabeculae, interorbital septum, pilae metoptica, taeniae marginalis, acrochordal cartilage, pilae antotica, parachordal cartilages, and crista sellaris. Additionally, the formation of the chondrocranium of T. scripta is compared to those of Chrysemys picta (Emydidae) and Caretta caretta (Chelonidae). Overall, the patterns of formation and remodeling of the chondrocranium are quite similar among these species, with the most conspicuous differences observed in remodeling of the posterior orbital cartilages (specifically, the pila metoptica). Reorganization of these cartilages is discussed briefly in the context of associated extraocular muscles for T. scripta and C. caretta. A prominent intertrabecula is reported in T. scripta, supporting previous observations of this structure in emydid turtles. J. Morphol., 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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