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J Exp Zool. 1993 Sep 1;266(6):480-94.

Monotreme development with particular reference to the extraembryonic membranes.

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University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia.


This paper considers many of the salient features of monotreme development, particularly morphogenesis of the extraembryonic membranes. The uterine endometrium of both monotremes and marsupials exhibits a progesterone driven luteal phase where accelerated utilization of endometrial nutrients is evidenced by a rapid post-primitive streak expansion in the dimensions of the extraembryonic membranes. Monotremes share with marsupials, birds, and reptiles an unspecialized vertebrate mode of genesis of the embryonic disc on the peripheral surface of the yolk-sac. The fused vascularized respiratory chorioallantois is estimated to have a functional life of not more than the terminal 4 to 5 days of the monotreme incubation period. This time interval is of a slightly greater order of magnitude than that found in marsupials with a fused chorioallantois, so far described, but in the context of the proportional elapse of post-primitive streak organogenesis would fall within the marsupial grade. The dominant extraembryonic membrane for nutritive and respiratory function in both monotremes and marsupials is the yolk-sac. This contribution shows that monotremes and marsupials share a much larger suite of developmental anatomical features than previously reported. The evolutionary biologist is confronted with the challenge of how to assign an appropriate weighting to these features as marsupials are considered by many researchers to be allied phylogenetically more closely with eutherian mammals than with monotremes.

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