Survival of Histological Structure and Biochemical Constituents in an Ancient Mummified Weddell Seal. Part II. Survival of Histological Structure

  1. William Henry Burt
  1. Mary Faith Orr

Published Online: 3 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/AR018p0197

Antarctic Pinnipedia

Antarctic Pinnipedia

How to Cite

Orr, M. F. (1971) Survival of Histological Structure and Biochemical Constituents in an Ancient Mummified Weddell Seal. Part II. Survival of Histological Structure, in Antarctic Pinnipedia (ed W. H. Burt), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/AR018p0197

Author Information

  1. Department of Anatomy, Medical School Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1971

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875901183

Online ISBN: 9781118664773

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Keywords:

  • Ancient mummified Weddell seal;
  • Crabeater seal;
  • Leptonychychotes weddelli;
  • Radiocarbon;
  • Weddell seal

Summary

The skins of an ancient Weddell seal (radiocarbon dated as approximately 1400 years old) and of a more recent crabeater seal (200–500 years old) from the Antarctic have been shown to be similar in structure.

In the dermis of each seal was a closed tubular system that was filled with yellow material that stained only with Sudan black B; this indicates the presence of a high concentration of phospholipids. The tubular system was much more elaborate and extensive in the Weddell seal than in the crabeater; it is considered to be a specialized system that was developed as an adaptation for the environmental conditions under which the seals existed in the Antarctic.

Two layers of tissue beneath the dermis are described. The histology suggests that the tissue just beneath the dermis was probably designed for a special function. This layer merged into another layer that was mostly spongy (adipose) tissue; the material filling the spaces in this tissue was similar to the material observed filling the tubules. There were definite indications that the spongy tissue was an integral part of the tubular system.