Indexed on: 25 Apr '06Published on: 25 Apr '06Published in: Journal of Morphology
We studied the ontogeny of the claustrum comparatively in representatives of all otophysan subgroups. The claustrum of cypriniforms has a cartilaginous precursor, the claustral cartilage, which subsequently ossifies perichondrally at its anterior face and develops an extensive lamina of membrane bone. The membrane bone component of the claustrum and its close association with the atrium sinus imparis, a perilymphatic space of the Weberian apparatus, are both synapomorphies of cypriniforms. The characiform claustrum is not preformed in cartilage and originates as a membrane bone ossification, a putative synapomorphy of that taxon. Among siluriforms, the claustrum is present only in more basal groups and originates as an elongate cartilage that ossifies in a characteristic ventrodorsal direction, possibly a synapomorphy of catfishes. Gymnotiforms lack the claustral cartilage and claustrum. We review all previous hypothesis of claustrum homology in light of the above findings and conclude that the most plausible hypothesis is the one originally proposed by Bloch ( Jen Z Naturw 34:1-64) that claustra are homologs of the supradorsals of the first vertebra.