, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 57-65

Morphology of female genital tracts in Dasypodidae (Xenarthra, Mammalia): a comparative survey

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Abstract

Previous works about comparative spermatology in Dasypodidae determined that sperm morphology is a striking variable among genera. It was suggested that this sperm feature may be related to specific morphologies of the female reproductive tract. The present comparative study of the morphology of the female genital tract from seven species corresponding to six genera of Dasypodidae is aimed to determine the main similarities and differences between the species and to establish a possible correlation with the sperm shapes and sizes. Genital tracts were studied macroscopically and histologically. Dasypus hybridus has disk-shaped ovaries and the cortex occupies almost all the organ with a single oocyte in each follicle. Tolypeutes matacus, Chaetophractus villosus, Chaetophractus vellerosus, Zaedyus pichiy, Cabassous chacoensis and Clamyphorus truncatus possess ovoid and elongated ovaries, with both longitudinally polarized cortex and medulla, and the peculiar presence of several oocytes in the same follicle. D. hybridus and T. matacus have a simple pear-shaped uterus, but in the other species the uterus is pyramid shaped and bicornuate. The uterine cervix is very long in all studied species. Only T. matacus presents a true vagina as in most eutherian mammals; on the other hand, in the other species a urogenital sinus is observed. The structure of female reproductive tracts in Dasypodidae contains a mixture of assumedly primary and other derived features. According to the different morphologies of the regions analyzed, a classification of the female genital tracts in three groups can be performed (group 1: Dasypus; group 2: Tolypeutes; group 3: Chaetophractus, Zaedyus, Cabassous, Clamyphorus) and a correlation between each group and a specific sperm morphology can be established.