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Comparative gastrointestinal morphology of three small mammalian insectivores: Acomys spinosissimus (Rodentia), Crocidura cyanea (Eulipotyphla), and Amblysomus hottentotus (Afrosoricida)

Authors

  • Julia Boonzaier,

    1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
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  • Elizabeth L. Van der Merwe,

    1. Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Observatory 7925, South Africa
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  • Nigel C. Bennett,

    1. Department of Zoology and Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • Sanet H. Kotzé

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
    • Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa

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Abstract

The gastrointestinal morphology was investigated in three mammalian insectivorous species, namely Acomys spinosissimus, Crocidura cyanea, and Amblysomus hottentotus. The aim of the study was to provide a comprehensive morphological comparison between the different species and to explore whether anatomical gastrointestinal adaptations are associated with the insectivorous diet of these species. The shape, proportional length, and proportional surface areas of the different gastrointestinal regions were recorded and compared in the three insectivores. Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) and Alcian Blue/Periodic Acid Schiff (AB/PAS) were used for morphological assessment. In all three species, the stomach was simple and uncompartmentalized. The internal aspect of the stomach in A. spinosissimus was hemi-glandular, containing stratified squamous epithelium in the fundus, with glandular epithelium in the body and pyloric region. However, C. cyanea and A. hottentotus had wholly glandular stomachs. Paneth cells were not observed in the intestinal tracts of C. cyanea and A. hottentotus. Acomys spinosissimus was the only species studied that had a cecum. The proximal colonic region of A. spinosissimus had V-shaped mucosal folds. Histologically, C. cyanea had villi throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract (GIT), whereas for A. hottentotus villi were not present in the most distal gastrointestinal regions. In both C. cyanea and A. hottentotus, longitudinal mucosal folds were present in the distal part of the colon. The GITs of C. cyanea and A. hottentotus showed little morphological differentiation namely, a simple, glandular stomach and the lack of a cecum. J. Morphol., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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