Ontogeny and Microanatomy of the Nasal Turbinals in Lemuriformes

Timothy D. Smith, Molly C. Martell, James B. Rossie, Christopher J. Bonar, Valerie B. Deleon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The nasal cavity of strepsirrhine primates (lemurs and lorises) has the most primitive arrangement of extant primates. In nocturnal species, the numerous turbinals of the ethmoid bear a large surface area of olfactory mucosa (OM). In this study, we examine turbinal development in four genera of diurnal or cathemeral lemuriformes. In addition, we examined an age series of each genus to detect whether structures bearing OM as opposed to respiratory mucosa (RM) develop differently, as has been observed in nocturnal strepsirrhines. In adults, the maxilloturbinal is covered by highly vascular respiratory mucosa throughout its entire length, with large sinusoidal vessels in the lamina propria; any parts of other turbinals that closely borders the maxilloturbinal has a similar mucosa. Posteriorly, the most vascular RM is restricted in the nasopharyngeal duct, which becomes partitioned from the dorsal olfactory region. A comparison of newborns to adults reveals that the first ethmoturbinal increases more in length in the parts that are covered with RM than OM, which supports the idea that ethmoturbinals can specialize in more than one function. Finally, we observe that the regions of turbinals that are ultimately covered with RM develop more accessory lamellae or additional surface area of existing scrolls compared to the regions covered with OM. Because such outgrowths of bone develop postnatally and without cartilaginous precursors, we hypothesize that the complexity of olfactory lamellae within the ethmoturbinal complex is primarily established at birth, while respiratory lamellae become elaborated due to the epigenetic influence of respiratory physiology. Anat Rec, 299:1492–1510, 2016.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1492-1510
Number of pages19
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • concha
  • ethmoid
  • olfactory
  • turbinate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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