Anatomy of the fully formed chondrocranium of Emydura subglobosa (Chelidae): A pleurodiran turtle



The chondrocranium is a cartilaginous structure that forms around and protects the brain and sensory organs of the head. Through ontogeny, this skeletal structure may become more elaborate, remodeled and reabsorbed, and/or ossified. Though considerable attention has been given to the formation of the chondrocranium and a great amount of data has been gathered on the development of this structure among many craniates, the anatomy of this structure in turtles often is neglected. We describe the mature chondrocranium of the pleurodiran turtle, Emydura subglobosa (Chelidae) based on hatchling specimens. Though formation and ossification of bony elements has been studied previously in this species, a detailed description of the chondrocranium of this pleurodiran turtle has not been presented. Anatomy of the chondrocranium was described for E. subglobosa by examination of cleared and double-stained specimens. The orbitotemporal region of E. subglobosa is dramatically different from that of other described turtles (e.g., Apalone spinifera, Pelodiscus sinensis, Chelydra serpentina, Macrochelys temminckii, Trachemys scripta, Chrysemys picta, and Eretmochelys imbricata) in that a prominent taenia marginalis spans the space between the planum supraseptale and otic capsules, and the pila antotica (which becomes modified and ossified through ontogeny to form the processus clinoideus) is greatly reduced and essentially absent in hatchling specimens. The morphology seen in E. subglobosa is similar to that of Caretta caretta, particularly as it relates to the taenia marginalis. Variation in the orbitotemporal region is briefly discussed in the context of the taenia marginalis, taenia medialis, pila metoptica, and pila antotica. J. Morphol. 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.