The luminal surface of the chemosensory epithelia of the main olfactory organ of terrestrial vertebrates is covered by a layer of fluid. The source of this fluid layer varies among vertebrates. Little is known regarding the relative development of the sources of fluid (sustentacular cells and Bowman’s glands) in reptiles, especially in gekkotan lizards (despite recent assertions of olfactory speciality). This study examined the extent and morphology of the main olfactory organ in several Australian squamate reptiles, including three species of gekkotans, two species of skinks and one snake species. The olfactory mucosa of two gekkotan species (Christinus marmoratus and Strophurus intermedius) is spread over a large area of the nasal cavity. Additionally, the sustentacular cells of all three gekkotan species contained a comparatively reduced number of secretory granules, in relation to the skinks or snake examined. These observations imply that the gekkotan olfactory system may function differently from that of either skinks or snakes. Similar variation in secretory granule abundance was previously noted between mammalian and non-mammalian olfactory sustentacular cells. The observations in gekkotans suggests that the secretory capacity of the non-mammalian olfactory sustentacular cells show far more variation than initially thought.
Volume 44 | Issue 6
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