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Brain Behav Evol. 2010;76(2):144-53. doi: 10.1159/000320951. Epub 2010 Nov 15.

Retinal ganglion cell layer of the Caspian seal Pusa caspica: topography and localization of the high-resolution area.

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  • 1Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.


Retinal topography, cell density and sizes of ganglion cells in the Caspian seal (Pusa caspica) were analyzed in retinal whole mounts stained with cresyl-violet. The topographic distribution of ganglion cells displayed an area of high cell density located in the temporal quadrant of the retina and was similar to the area centralis of terrestrial carnivores. It extended nasally, above the optic disk, as a streak of increased cell density. In different whole mounts, the peak cell density in the high-density area ranged from 1,684 to 1,844 cells/mm² (mean 1,773 cells/mm²). The cell density data predict a retinal resolution of around 8.5 cycles/degree in water. A distinctive feature of the Caspian seal's retina is the large size of ganglion cells and the low cell density compared to terrestrial mammals. The ganglion cell diameter ranged from 10 to 58 μm. Cell size histograms featured bimodal patterns with groups of small and large ganglion cells. The large cells appeared similar to α-cells of terrestrial mammals and constituted 7% of the total ganglion cell population.

Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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