Epidermal glands in squamata: Microscopical examination of precloacal glands in Amphisbaena alba (Amphisbaenia, Amphisbaenidae)
Antoniazzi, M. M.
Is part ofJournal of Morphology
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The femoral or cloacal region of many species of lizards and amphisbaenians exhibits epidermal glands. the pores of these glands are plugged with holocrine solid secretions that serve as semiochemical sources. Many authors assume that these glands are mainly associated with reproduction and demarcation of territory. the structure of precloacal glands in Amphisbaena alba was previously studied by Antoniazzi et al. (Zoomorphology 113:199-203, 1993; J, Morphol, 221:101-109, 1994). These authors suggested that as the animal moves inside tunnels, the secretion plugs are abraded against the substrate, releasing a secretion trail. Some aspects of the plug were difficult to interpret in fine sections due to the dense and brittle nature of the plug. the morphology of the trail, and the manner of deposition on the substrate, have never been reported. This study presents a primarily scanning electron microscopic description of A. alba precloacal glands and of the secretion plugs. It also demonstrates experimentally the formation of the trail and its fine morphology. the results show that when the plugs scrape against the substrate, their constitution helps them to fragment into tiny pieces, which are spread on the ground, thus forming a trail. Each one of the fragments corresponds to a secretion granule of the precloacal gland's secretory cells. in this way, the trail might have an extensive area for volatilization of semiochemicals, constituting an efficient means of intraspecific communication inside the tunnels. J. Morphol. 241:197-206, 1999. (C) 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
CitationJournal of Morphology. New York: Wiley-liss, v. 241, n. 3, p. 197-206, 1999.
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