Carter, Anthony M.5; Blankenship, T.N.3; Enders, A.C.3; Vogel, P.4
1 Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU2 Kardiovaskulær og Renal Forskning, Department of Molecular Medicine, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU3 University of California4 University of Lausanne5 Kardiovaskulær og Renal Forskning, Department of Molecular Medicine, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU
The otter shrews of mainland Africa are the closest relatives of the Madagascar tenrecs. We sought for similarities in placentation between the two groups and, in a wider context, with other mammals of the Afrotheria clade. Specimens of the Nimba otter shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei) were obtained from the Ivory Coast and examples of the giant otter shrew (Potamogale velox) from the Hill Collection. The Nimba otter shrew has a central haemophagous organ similar to that in tenrecs. The labyrinth of the Nimba otter shrew, however, is endotheliochorial with syncytial trophoblast enclosing the maternal vessels. On the other hand tenrecs have cellular haemomonochorial placentae and an associated spongy zone, which is not present in the Nimba otter shrew. The placenta of the giant otter shrew is also endotheliochorial. The central region of its placenta is particularly interesting, since the juxtafetal portion is clearly a haemophagous region whereas the labyrinth feeding this region is endotheliochorial. Thus there is considerable variation in placental morphology within Tenrecidae. Importantly, however, both otter shrews have a large allantoic sac divided into four intercommunicating lobes by two pairs of septal folds. A similar arrangement has been described for representatives of each of the remaining five orders within Afrotheria. This is significant because previous anatomical studies have failed to establish a single synapomorphy in support of Afrotheria.