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Spinal cord development in marsupials in relation to birthing strategies and in comparison with monotremes and the laboratory rat

Ken W. S. Ashwell1 & Boaz Shulruf2

1Department of Anatomy, School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and
2Medical Education, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

ABSTRACT
Marsupials are born in an immature state, followed by prolonged nurturing of pouch young by maternal lactation. Spinal cord sections held in the collections at the Museum fu¨r Naturkunde, Berlin were used to test the relationship between structural maturity of the spinal cord and the locomotor challenges that face young marsupials and monotremes. Analysis of variance indicated that body length is a much stronger determinant of variation in anatomical measures of spinal cord maturation than mammal type.

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