Histology of Convergent Probing Appendages in Mormyridae

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2023
Auteurs:Peterson, R. D., Evans, A. J., Hernandez L. P.
Journal:Integrative Organismal Biology
Date Published:Jan-01-2023

Mormyridae is an early diverging family of Teleostean fishes that produce an electric field for navigation and communication using an electric organ. This clade has a diverse array of soft-tissue rostral appendages, such as the chin-swelling, the Schnauzenorgan, and the tubesnout combined with a Schnauzenorgan, that have evolved multiple times. Here we assess if macroscopically convergent, soft-tissue rostral appendages are also histologically convergent. Further, we investigate how the histology of these appendages can inform their function. We sampled independent gains of the chin-swelling and Schnauzenorgan to understand similarities and differences in their anatomies. We show that macroscopically convergent rostral appendages are also convergent at a histological level, and different types of rostral appendages share a similar anatomy; that said, minor differences likely relate to their specific functions. Based on a comparison of the skeletal muscle distribution and the differing attachment shapes of each appendage to the dentary, we conclude that the Schnauzenorgan is capable of a wider range of movements than the chin swelling. Furthermore, the anatomy suggests that these soft-tissue rostral appendages likely function as electrosensory foveas (i.e., an appendage that focuses a sensory system). Lastly, these histological data support the hypothesis that the chin swelling may be a precursor to the Schnauzenorgan.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith