The 3-dimensional anatomy of the North-Western Marsupial Mole (Notoryctes caurinus Thomas 1920) using computed tomography, X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging

Natalie Warburton, C. Wood, C. Lloyd, W. Song, Philip Withers

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The 3-D skeletal images obtained from reconstruction of CT scansand X-rays, and soft-tissue images produced by MRI, provide invaluableinformation of the internal and gross anatomy of the north-western marsupialmole (Notoryetes caurinus).The conical skull, which is quite thin-walled dorsally and anteriorly butstrong in the basicranial region, has little evidence of the orbit or zygomaticarch, and the smoothly-curved posterior region has no sagittal or occipitalcrests. The vertebral column is remarkably strengthened, and in lateral viewhas an unusual flat-shape. The cervical vertebrae appear to be greatlycompressed; 4 or 5 are completely fused (which is unique among marsupials).The thoracic vertebrae are fairly robust with large neural spines. The lumbarvertebrae are distinct, becoming large posteriorly towards the pelvis. Thesacral vertebrae are greatly expanded in size and are fused with the pelvis.Particularly in the middle of the tail, the caudal vertebrae are greatlydeveloped, with large transverse processes and chevron bones. The pectoralgirdle is very anterior, with the shoulder articulation level with the anteriorcervical vertebrae just behind the skull, and low on the side of the body. Thehumerus is robust, and the radius and ulna are very short. The bones of thepelvis are highly derived, and fused to sacral vertebrae. The epipubic bonesare small and not ossified. An ossified patella is present and it has an unusuallarge triangular keel.The most apparent soft-tissue structure by MRI is a large amount ofsubcutaneous fat, particularly around the ventral surface of the pelvis but alsodorsal to the pelvis and anteriorly around the shoulders. The major musclegroups are visible, but distinction beh,veen individual muscles is not possibleexcept for the very large muscles of the thigh, upper arm and base of the tail.The muscles of the tail are strongly developed, more so ventrally thandorsally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalRecords of the Western Australian Museum: Supplement
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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