Digital dissection – using contrast-enhanced computed tomography scanning to elucidate hard- and soft-tissue anatomy in the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

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Abstract

Gross dissection has a long history as a tool for the study of human or animal soft- and hard-tissue anatomy. However, apart from being a time-consuming and invasive method, dissection is often unsuitable for very small specimens and often cannot capture spatial relationships of the individual soft-tissue structures. The handful of comprehensive studies on avian anatomy using traditional dissection techniques focus nearly exclusively on domestic birds, whereas raptorial birds, and in particular their cranial soft tissues, are essentially absent from the literature. Here, we digitally dissect, identify, and document the soft-tissue anatomy of the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) in detail, using the new approach of contrast-enhanced computed tomography using Lugol's iodine. The architecture of different muscle systems (adductor, depressor, ocular, hyoid, neck musculature), neurovascular, and other soft-tissue structures is three-dimensionally visualised and described in unprecedented detail. The three-dimensional model is further presented as an interactive PDF to facilitate the dissemination and accessibility of anatomical data. Due to the digital nature of the data derived from the computed tomography scanning and segmentation processes, these methods hold the potential for further computational analyses beyond descriptive and illustrative proposes.

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