Scale structure in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri (Osteichthyes: Dipnoi)

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Kemp, Anne
Heaslop, Meg
Carr, Andrew
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2015
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Scales of the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, are secreted within the dermis by a capsule of scleroblasts, and enclosed in a pouch made of collagen fibers, in contact with the epidermis over the posterior third of the scale. Each scale grows from a focus, which represents the first formed part of the scale. On the internal surface of the scale is elasmodin, made of collagen fiber bundles arranged in layers. Elasmodin, unmineralized in N. forsteri, contains cells in the living animal, and the number of layers increases as the scales grow. Squamulin, on the thin external part of the scale, is also laid down in layers, and based on a matrix of fine collagen fibrils, mineralized with a poorly crystalline biogenic calcium hydroxylapatite. Squamulin is divided into separate sections called squamulae, and contains long tubules with cells applied to the wall of the tubule. The anterior and lateral surfaces of the squamulin are ornamented with pediculae, and the posterior surface has longitudinal ridges, from which collagen fibers extend to anchor the scale within the pouch. Elasmodin and squamulin are linked by unmineralized collagen fibrils. The layers, formed at irregular intervals, are connected around the margin of the scale, effectively converting the whole scale into a flat structure resembling a pearl, with the first formed tissues deeply embedded inside the scale, and the youngest on the outer surface. Incremental lines in the hard tissue, and the number of layers in the elasmodin, do not reflect the chronological age of the fish. J. Morphol. 276:1137–1145, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Morphology
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276
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10
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Physiology not elsewhere classified
Physiology
Zoology
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