In the high-latitude shelf waters of Antarctica, fishes in the perciform suborder Notothenioidei dominate the fish fauna and constitute an adaptive radiation and a species flock. The 25 species of notothenioid plunderfishes, comprising four genera of the family Artedidraconidae, contribute substantially to fish species diversity on the high Antarctic shelf. A mental barbel is an autapomorphy for the family. Dolloidraco longedorsalis is the most abundant artedidraconid at depths over 400 m in these waters. In this article we present the anatomy and histology of the brain and special sense organs of Dolloidraco and compare it to the brains of other artedidraconids, closely related harpagiferids, and more generally to other notothenioids. We provide a detailed drawing of the brain and cranial nerves. The brain of Dolloidraco is simple, without external hypertrophy of sensory or motor regions, but contains several unusual features associated with the ventricular system and CSF, including well-developed circumventricular organs, subependymal expansions, and subarachnoid cisterns; and a ventricle in the corpus cerebellum. The brain of Dolloidraco also contains a lobed chief sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve that is correlated across species with barbel length. The eyes are large and contain a small choroid rete, a structure previously thought to be absent from members of this family. We document the histology of the duplex retina, olfactory apparatus, cutaneous taste buds, and barbel musculature and innervation. We discuss the role of pedomorphy in producing simplified brain morphologies. We consider the possibility that Dolloidraco is a somatosensory specialist - an unusual feature among vertebrates - and decide that this is unlikely.
- Brain morphology and histology
- Mental barbel
- Sense organ histology
- Subependymal expansions
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Developmental Biology