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Comparison of acoustic structures between heads of a narrow-ridged finless porpoise fetus and its mother

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Per Berggren


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Computed tomography (CT) was used to compare the tissue structures involved in sound production and reception in a fetus and its maternal body of a female finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaorientalis sunameri) found stranded at Huian, Fujian Province, China, in April 2014. Qualitative assessment of the CT images revealed the physical development of main acoustic tissues including melon, blubber, mandibular fat, muscle, and connective tissue in a 10-month old fetus. Compared to the maternal body, the cranium of the fetus was not enclosed, air sacs and nasal meatus were both absent, and the maxilla was much thinner. Furthermore, Hounsfield unit (HU) measurements from CT scanning were used to quantify the difference between the fetus and its maternal body for melon, blubber, mandibular fat, muscle, and connective tissue. Statistical analyses revealed significant differences in HU between all 5 structures melon, blubber, mandibular fat, muscle, and connective tissue (P < 0.001) both in the fetus and maternal body. The median HU values of melon, blubber, mandibular fat, and muscle in the fetus (-61.0, -74.0, -24.0, and 25.0, respectively) were higher than those recorded in the maternal body (-85.0, -85.0, -69.0, and 12.0, respectively). However, the median HU value of connective tissue (50.0) in the fetus was lower than that recorded in the maternal body (60.0). The results show that the acoustic tissue structures were not fully developed in the fetus and depending on the actual age of the fetus the structures may not be fully formed by the time of birth. Further studies are needed to determine at what age finless porpoise calves have fully developed the tissue structures needed to produce and use ultrasound beams for echolocation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Song ZC, Zhang Y, Wang XY, Wei C, Berggren P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Mammalogy

Year: 2016

Volume: 97

Issue: 4

Pages: 1074 -1080

Print publication date: 25/07/2016

Online publication date: 31/03/2016

Acceptance date: 29/02/2016

ISSN (print): 0022-2372

ISSN (electronic): 1545-1542

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyw057


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Funder referenceFunder name
Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars, State Education Ministry
Xiamen-Newcastle Joint Strategic Partnership Fund
China Scholarship Council
11174240National Science Foundation of China
41276040National Science Foundation of China
2012J06010Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province of China
41206159National Science Foundation of China