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Region Hovedstaden - en del af Københavns Universitetshospital
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Morphology of the snake spectacle reflects its evolutionary adaptation and development

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  • Mari-Ann Otkjaer Da Silva
  • Steffen Heegaard
  • Tobias Wang
  • Jacob Thorup Gade
  • Christian Damsgaard
  • Mads Frost Bertelsen
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BACKGROUND: Covering the eye of all snakes is a transparent integumental structure known as the spectacle. In order to determine variations in spectacle thickness among species, the spectacles of 217 alcohol-preserved museum specimens of 44 species belonging to 14 different families underwent optical coherence tomography (OCT) to measure spectacular thickness. Multivariable analyses were made to determine whether family, activity period (diurnal/nocturnal) and habitat (arboreal/terrestrial/fossorial/aquatic) influenced spectacle thickness.

RESULTS: The thinnest spectacles in absolute terms were found in the Usambara bush viper (Viperidae) with a thickness of 74 ± 9 μm and the absolute thickest spectacle was found in the red-tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophiidae) which had a spectacle thickness of 244 ± 57 μm. Fossorial and aquatic snakes had significantly thicker spectacles than arboreal and terrestrial snakes. When spectacle thickness was correlated to eye size (horizontal spectacle diameter), Gray's earth snake (Uropeltidae) had the lowest ratio (1:7) and the cottonmouth (Viperidae) had the highest ratio (1:65). Multivariable and phylogenetic analyses showed that spectacular thickness could be predicted by taxonomic family and habitat, but not activity period.

CONCLUSION: This phylogenetically broad systematic study of the thickness of the snake spectacle showed that spectacular thickness varies greatly across snake species and may reflect evolutionary adaptation and development.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftBMC Veterinary Research
Vol/bind13
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)258
Antal sider8
ISSN1746-6148
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 18 aug. 2017

ID: 52766590