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Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences
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The morphology and sculpture of ossicles in the Cyclopteridae and Liparidae (Teleostei) of the Baltic Sea; pp. 263–276

Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/earth.2010.4.03

Tiiu Märss, Janek Lees, Mark V. H. Wilson, Toomas Saat, Heli Špilev

Small to very small bones (ossicles) in one species each of the families Cyclopteridae and Liparidae (Cottiformes) of the Baltic Sea are described and for the first time illustrated with SEM images. These ossicles, mostly of dermal origin, include dermal platelets, scutes, tubercles, prickles and sensory line segments. This work was undertaken to reveal characteristics of the morphology, sculpture and ultrasculpture of these small ossicles that could be useful as additional features in taxonomy and systematics, in a manner similar to their use in fossil material. The scutes and tubercles of the cyclopterid Cyclopterus lumpus Linnaeus are built of small denticles, each having its own cavity viscerally. The thumbtack prickles of the liparid Liparis liparis (Linnaeus) have a tiny spinule on a porous basal plate; the small size of the prickles seems to be related to their occurrence in the exceptionally thin skin, to an adaptation for minimizing weight and/or metabolic cost and possibly to their evolution from isolated ctenii no longer attached to the scale plates of ctenoid scales. Nodular ultrasculpture was found on the tubercle denticles of C. lumpus, resembling some kinds of ultrasculpture seen in Palaeozoic vertebrates. Samples from the posterior part of the head of C. lumpus and the anterior part of the trunk of L. liparis each contained an ossified sensory line segment with distinct characteristics, as also reported in other cottoids.

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