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Ontogeny of the Suspensorial and Opercular Muscles in Clarias Gariepinus (Siluroidei: Clariidae), and the Consequences for Respiratory Movements

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Three ontogenetic stages of the African catfish, Clarias gariepinus, were studied and compared with data from literature. The development of the suspensorial and opercular muscles is described and some functional aspects are discussed. Five muscles could be distinguished: (1) the adductor arcus palatini, (2) the levator arcus palatini, (3) the adductor operculi, (4) the dilatator operculi and (5) the levator operculi. These muscles do not develop synchronously, which is reflected in the presence of different mechanisms for aquatic respiration. It is observed that the apparatus needed for the pressure pump system, develops before that of the suction pump system does. In juvenile C. gariepinus, however, the suction pump system seems to be more important for the aquatic respiration, as some adaptations to an improved dilatation of the gill cover were found. Apart from their role in aquatic respiration, the muscles are functional during atmospheric respiration, in which the suprabranchial organs are used.

Affiliations: 1: University of Ghent, Institute of Zoology, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium


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