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J Morphol. 1997 Oct;234(1):37-50.

The arterial system of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).

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Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Vladivostok, Russia.


The angioarchitecture of the sperm whale is basically similar to that of other mammals, but it has specific attributes associated with the aquatic environment of this animal and its tolerance for deep and long diving. Specialized features include an expansive aortic arch, unusually far anterior localization of the arch, symmetrical branching of common carotid and subclavian arteries from the aorta, the absence of direct connection between internal carotid arteries and brain arteries, the absence of a costocervical artery, and the presence of a well-developed occipital artery. The sperm whale has extraordinarily well-developed retia mirabilia, distributed in the cranial cavity, vertebral canal, neck and thoracic cavity, around the optic nerve, and in the walls of the uterus. These retia are more extensively developed in the sperm whale than in any other cetacean previously studied.

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