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The anatomy and histology of the nasal cavity of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)


Department of Veterinary Anatomy, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane 4067, Australia


The fine structure olfactory and vorneronasal chemosensory epithelium has been investigated in many mammals, revealing a uniform pattern with only minor species variation (Graziadei, 1977). Fewer studies have been done on the respiratory epithelium (Adams & McFarland, 1972; Matulionis & Parks, 1973; Kratzing, 1982a), the structure and distribution of nasal glands (Bojsen-Moller, 1964; Adams, 1982), and the general anatomy of the nose (Negus, 1958; Parsons, 1971; Stoddart, 1980). Yet these may all vary with the feeding patterns of the animal, the need to conserve moisture, and the provision of temperature control for inspired air or, in some cases, cooling mechanisms for the vascular supply to the brain. A continuing study ofthe olfactory and vorneronasal organs in Australian marsupials suggests that variations occur in nasal architecture to serve specific needs. The nose of the koala has been investigated as part of this study and reveals some features which may be related to its highly specialised diet, nocturnal habits, and known ability to conserve water.