Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Development of the Skeleton of the Stripe-Faced Dunnart, Sminthopsis Macroura (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae)

L Frigo and PA Woolley

Australian Journal of Zoology 44(2) 155 - 164
Published: 1996


Development of the skeleton of the stripe-faced dunnart, Sminthopsis macroura (Gould), a small carnivorous marsupial, was examined in captive-bred pouch young of known age. Skeletal tissue was differentially stained with the dyes alcian blue and alizarin red to demonstrate the presence of cartilage and bone, respectively. The skeleton of the neonate is cartilaginous and ossification centres are first apparent in the skull by Day 5 post partum. The skeleton of S. macroura is well invested with bone by Day 40 of the lactation period, when the young can relinquish the nipple. The sequence of ossification is similar to that reported for other marsupials. Comparisons are made with the eutherian pattern of ossification. This study is the first published work on the ossification of a dasyurid marsupial as shown by whole-mount staining.

© CSIRO 1996

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