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Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2014 Nov;297(11):1985-2006. doi: 10.1002/ar.23023.

Morphology of the nasal capsule of primates--with special reference to Daubentonia and Homo.

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Institut für Evolution und Oekologie, Fachbereich Biologie der Universität, Auf der Morgenstelle 28, D - 772076, Tübingen, Germany.


Primitive mammals are considered macrosmatic. They have very large and complicated nasal capsules, nasal cavities with extensive olfactory epithelia, and relatively large olfactory bulbs. The complicated structures of the nasal capsule follow a relatively conservative "bauplan," which is normally easy to see in earlier fetal stages; especially in altricial taxa it differentiates well into postnatal life. As anteriormost part of the chondrocranium, the nasal capsule is at first cartilaginous. Most of it ossifies endochondrally, but "appositional bone" ("Zuwachsknochen") is also common. Many fetal structures become resorbed. Together, all surviving bone structures form the ethmoid bone, but cartilages of the external nose and of the vomeronasal complex can persist throughout life. We describe in detail the anatomy of Daubentonia madagascariensis based on a fetal stage (41 mm HL) and an adult skull was analyzed by µCT. We found that the nasal capsule of this species is by far the most complicated one of all extant Primates. We also describe older fetuses of Homo sapiens (35 and 63 mm HL) as representative of a derived primate. The most significant feature of man--and probably of all anthropoids--is the complete loss of the recessus frontoturbinalis and its associated structures. It can be demonstrated that the evolutionary reductions within the primate nasal capsule mainly affect those structures associated with olfaction, whereas cartilages that are important for the biomechanics of the facial skull of the fetus persist.


Daubentonia; Homo; ethmoid; nasal capsule; primates; turbinals

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