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Ascending spinal systems in the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum


The ascending spinal systems in the nurse shark were studied after spinal hemisections by use of the Nauta and Fink-Heimer techniques. The dorsal funicular fibers form a single bundle issuing fibers to the gray substance of the spinal cord, the dorsal funicular nucleus, and the vestibular complex. Some dorsal funicular fibers also appear to contribute to the spinocerebellar tract.

The degenerated lateral funicular fibers are segregated into three fasciculi issuing fibers medially as they ascend through the brainstem. The largest target of these fibers is the reticular formation, but diffusely organized axons also reach 1) the gray matter of the spinal cord, 2) the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, 3) the nucleus “A” of the medulla oblongata, 4) the central gray substance of the brainstem, 5) the cerebellar cortex, 6) the cerebellar nucleus, 7) the nucleus intercollicularis, 8) the mesencephalic tectum, and 9) the dorsal thalamus. At the latter site the spinal input appears to partly overlap with the visual input.

The results, compared with the strikingly similar findings in other classes of vertebrates, indicate that all vertebrate groups apparently have the same basic components of ascending spinal projections.

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Correspondence to Prof. Sven O. E. Ebbesson.

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Ebbesson, S.O.E., Hodde, K.C. Ascending spinal systems in the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum . Cell Tissue Res. 216, 313–331 (1981).

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Key words

  • Ascending spinal systems
  • Elasmobranch brain
  • Comparative neuroanatomy
  • Selective silver impregnation