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Australian marsupials as models for the developing mammalian visual system


R.F. Mark and L.R. Marotte

 

The Developmental Neurobiology Group and Centre for Visual Science, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

 

ABSTRACT
This article makes two points. First, the diprotodont marsupials, including the kangaroos, wallabies and the Australian possum are not primitive mammals, and their brains make as good a general model of the higher mammals such as monkeys and humans as do those of the more common laboratory mammals such as cats and rats. Second, the peculiarities of marsupial reproduction, which comprises a very short period of intrauterine development, followed by a relatively protracted period of development in the pouch, provide unparalleled advantages for research into mammalian neuroembryology. Examples will be provided of how such research has made a contribution to our understanding of neural development, concentrating primarily on the visual system

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