Topographical Organization of the Facial Motor Nucleus in Florida Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
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Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) possess modified vibrissae that are used in conjunction with specialized perioral musculature to manipulate vegetation for ingestion, and aid in the tactile exploration of their environment. Therefore it is expected that manatees possess a large facial motor nucleus that exhibits a complex organization relative to other taxa. The topographical organization of the facial motor nucleus of five adult Florida manatees was analyzed using neuroanatomical methods. Cresyl violet and hematoxylin staining were used to localize the rostrocaudal extent of the facial motor nucleus as well as the organization and location of subdivisions within this nucleus. Differences in size, length, and organization of the facial motor nucleus among mammals correspond to the functional importance of the superficial facial muscles, including perioral musculature involved in the movement of mystacial vibrissae. The facial motor nucleus of Florida manatees was divided into seven subnuclei. The mean rostrocaudal length, width, and height of the entire Florida manatee facial motor nucleus was 6.6 mm (SD 8 0.51; range: 6.2-7.5 mm), 4.7 mm (SD 8 0.65; range: 4.0-5.6 mm), and 3.9 mm (SD 8 0.26; range: 3.5-4.2 mm), respectively. It is speculated that manatees could possess direct descending corticomotorneuron projections to the facial motornucleus. This conjecture is based on recent data for rodents, similiarities in the rodent and sirenian muscular-vibrissal complex, and the analogous nature of the sirenian cortical Rindenkerne system with the rodent barrel system.
author list (cited authors)
Marshall, C. D., Vaughn, S. D., Sarko, D. K., & Reep, R. L.