Macroscopic anatomy of the great vessels of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida)
The ringed seal [Pusa (Phoca) hispida], as well as other seals, exhibits unique anatomical properties when compared to its terrestrial counterparts. In the ringed seal, the most conspicuous marine adaptation is the aortic bulb. This large dilatation of the ascending aorta is comparable to that found in other seal species and marine mammals. The branches of the ascending aorta (brachiocephalic trunk, left common carotid artery and left subclavian artery) are similar to those of higher primates and man. The peculiarities of the venous system are: three pulmonary veins, a pericardial venous plexus, a caval sphincter, a hepatic sinus with paired caudal vena cavae and a large extradural venous plexus. Generally, three common pulmonary veins (right, left and caudal) empty into the left atrium. The pericardial venous plexus lies deep to the mediastinal pericardial pleura (pleura pericardica) on the auricular (ventral) surface of the heart. The caval sphincter surrounds the caudal vena cava as it passes through the diaphragm. Caudal to the diaphragm, the vena cava is dilated (the hepatic sinus), and near the cranial extremity of the kidneys, it becomes biphid. The azygos vein is formed from the union of the right and left azygos veins at the level of the 5th thoracic vertebra. Cardiovascular physiological studies show some of these anatomical variations, especially of the venous system and the ascending aorta, to be modifications for diving. This investigation documents the large blood vessels associated with the heart and related structures in the ringed seal.
H Smodlaka, Robert W. Henry, and Robert B. Reed. "Macroscopic anatomy of the great vessels of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida)" Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia: Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series C 38.3 (2009): 161-168.
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