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Comparative Morphology and Histology of the Nasal Fossa in Four Mammals: Gray Squirrel, Bobcat, Coyote, and White‐Tailed Deer

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Although the anatomy of the nasal fossa is broadly similar among terrestrial mammals, differences are evident in the intricacies of nasal turbinal architecture, which varies from simple scroll-like to complex branching forms, and in the extent of nonsensory and olfactory epithelium covering the turbinals. In this study, detailed morphological and immunohistochemical examinations and quantitative measurements of the turbinals and epithelial lining of the nasal fossa were conducted in an array of species that include the gray squirrel, bobcat, coyote, and white-tailed deer. Results show that much more of the nose is lined with olfactory epithelium in the smallest species (gray squirrel) than in the larger species. In two species with similar body masses, bobcat and coyote, the foreshortened felid snout influences turbinal size and results in a decrease of olfactory epithelium on the ethmoturbinals relative to the longer canine snout. Ethmoturbinal surface area exceeds that of the maxilloturbinals in all four sampled animals, except the white-tailed deer, in which the two are similar in size. Combining our results with published data from a broader array of mammalian noses, it is apparent that olfactory epithelial surface area is influenced by body mass, but is also affected by aspects of life history, such as diet and habitat, as well as skull morphology, itself a product of multiple compromises between various functions, such as feeding, vision, and cognition. The results of this study warrant further examination of other mammalian noses to broaden our evolutionary understanding of nasal fossa anatomy. Anat Rec, 299:840-852, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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