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Hear Res. 2011 Mar;273(1-2):59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2010.02.015. Epub 2010 May 7.

Lizard auditory papillae: an evolutionary kaleidoscope.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Zoologie, Technische Universität München, Liesel-Beckmann-Str. 4, Hochfeldweg 2, 85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.


The evolutionary processes that modified the structure and function of lizard auditory papillae during the separation of the familial lineages during the Jurassic have resulted in a remarkable variety of family-typical papillae. These papillae vary structurally in their size, in the patterns of the distribution of hair-cell types, in the presence or absence of sub-papillae and in the configurations of the tectorial membranes. Functional differences, however, are much smaller than the structural variations might lead one to expect. To some extent, differences in innervation patterns and tectorial configurations compensate for 10-fold differences in papillar length. Nonetheless, although lizards with tiny papillae are able to maintain frequency-selective and relatively sensitive hearing, the best selectivity and most sensitive hearing is found in the largest and most complex papillae. Fundamental considerations of the tonotopic organisation of papillae leads to a likely scheme mapping the evolution of the hearing organs found in modern lizard families.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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