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The entotympanic in late fetal artiodactyla (Mammalia)


Correspondence to: Wolfgang Maier, Universität Tübingen, Fachbereich Biologie, Auf der Morgenstelle 28 D-72076 Tübingen, Germany. E-mail:


The entotympanic is a neomorphic component of the bulla tympanica of placental mammals. Ontogenetically, its rostral component seems to be derived from the tubal cartilage, whereas its caudal component is normally connected with the sheath of the tympanohyal; the present study indicates additional sources of the caudal entotympanic. The entotympanics develop in late fetal or early postnatal life as cartilaginous structures, but in most taxa they ossifiy endochondrally as “os bullae”. This skeletal element is absent only in a few placental orders, among them the Artiodactyla. Because it is present in their sister taxa within the Scrotifera, it is likely to be reduced secondarily in the even-toed mammals. The study of histological serial sections of late fetal stages of several artiodactyl species shows that vestigial cartilaginous homologues of the entotympanics are invariably present, contrary to statements in the literature. In a few perinatal stages even secondary ossifications or calcifications of the entotympanic cartilages can be observed. The tubal cartilage of artiodactyls also continues into an anterior tegmen tympani (new term) that forms the floor of the fossa muscularis major. J. Morphol. 274:926–939, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.