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Scanning electron microscopic and X-ray diffraction studies of otoconia in the lizard Podarcis s. sicula

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The otoliths of embryos and young animals of the lizard Podarcis s. sicula were studied by X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy. Two types of crystal that give different X-ray diffraction patterns were found in the membranous labyrinth of Podarcis. The crystals consist of calcite or aragonite and are easily distinguished by scanning electron microscopy because of their different morphology. The two calcium carbonate crystal forms are not mixed at random but are present in the embryo from the very beginning in specific sites. The endolymphatic sac contains aragonite crystals while the saccule contains calcite crystals adjacent to the wall, in addition to a preponderance of aragonite crystals. The utricle and lagena contain only calcite crystals. The presence of two crystal forms of calcium carbonate in the membranous labyrinth are discussed in terms of differing genetic and functional significance.

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Correspondence to Prof. Francesco Marmo.

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Marmo, F., Franco, E. & Balsamo, G. Scanning electron microscopic and X-ray diffraction studies of otoconia in the lizard Podarcis s. sicula . Cell Tissue Res. 218, 265–270 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00210342

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Key words

  • Calcite
  • Aragonite
  • Otoliths
  • Podarcis
  • X-ray diffraction