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Acta Anat (Basel). 1994;149(1):1-12.

Structural development in the newborn marsupial, the stripe-faced dunnart, Sminthopsis macroura.

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  • 1Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia.


The structure of various sense organs and endocrine glands was examined in the stripe-faced dunnart, Sminthopsis macroura. This marsupial has the shortest gestation known for all mammals, 10.5-11 days. The morphology of the anterior pituitary, adrenal gland, olfactory epithelium, Merkel cells around the mouth and the utricle of the vestibular system of S. macroura was similar to that observed in other newborn marsupials. These structures are thought to be required by the newborn to transfer from the uterus to the pouch. The stage of development of the urinary system, the semicircular canals of the vestibular system, eyes and lungs was slightly different to that of other newborn marsupials. These structures are thought to have secondary importance in allowing the newborn to reach the teat. Although marsupials display variation in gestation length and produce newborn of differing body weights, there is little difference in morphology between various newborn marsupial species.

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