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Comparative anatomical studies on the thyroid and thymic arteries. VI. Diprotodont marsupials

Masahiro Yamasaki1

1YAMASAKI Research Institute of Morphology, 2-8 Terairiyashiki-Higashi, Ohtakasawa-Takanosu, Shiroishi 989-0211, Miyagi, Japan

ABSTRACT
The thyroid and thymic arteries in 44 specimens from 18 species belonging to the diprotodont marsupials were investigated. The results were compared with
those of polyprotodont marsupials, suncuses, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and man. The superior thyroid artery was constant in three superfamily groups. The inferior thyroid artery was extremely rare. The superior thymic artery arising from the thyrocervical trunk was observed in 1 phalangeroid and 2 macropodoids, and that arising from the vertebral artery occurred in 1 macropodoid. The middle thymic artery occurred in 1 phalangeroid, but was abundant in macropodoids. The inferior thymic artery was constant in koalas and phalangeroids, but was absent in half of the macropodoids. The thyroid ima, middle thymothyroid, and the supreme thymic arteries were absent in all diprotodonts. In addition to the usual thymus, diprotodonts have the superficial cervical thymus, which is only shared with guinea pigs. The superior superficial cervical thymic artery was absent in koalas and in half of the macropodoids, but was abundant in the phalangeroids. Conversely, the inferior superficial cervical thymic artery was constant in koalas and was dominant in the macropodoids. These results show that variations in the arterial patterns for both organs were much more prevalent in macropodoids than in phalangeroids, while the arterial patterns in koalas were characteristic. As a whole, the arteries for both organs were more complex in diprotodonts than in polyprotodonts or rats, but more simple than those in rabbits or man. The superior superficial cervical thymic arteries, which showed various patterns, were compared with those in guinea pigs.

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