, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 233-246

Peripheral nervous system of the ocean sunfish Mola mola (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae)

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Abstract

Dissection of peripheral nerves in the ocean sunfish Mola mola showed the lateral line system to comprise 6 cephalic and 1 trunk lateral lines, all neuromasts being superficial. The trunk line was restricted to the anterior half of the body, the number of neuromasts (27) being fewer than those previously recorded in other tetraodontiforms. The lateral ramus of the posterior lateral line nerve did not form a “serial collector nerve” along the body. The number of foramina in the neurocranium, serving as passages for the cranial nerves, was fewer than in primitive tetraodontiforms, the reduction being related to modifications in the posterior cranium. Some muscle homologies were reinterpreted based on nerve innervation patterns. The cutaneous branch innervation pattern in the claval fin rays was clearly identical with that in the dorsal and anal fin rays, but differed significantly from that in the caudal fin rays, providing strong support for the hypothesis that the clavus comprises highly modified components of the dorsal and anal fins.