文獻來源: Blackburn DG. Flemming AF. 2009. Morphology, development, and evolution of fetal membranes and placentation in squamate reptiles. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution 312B(6): 579-589.
Current studies on fetal membranes of reptiles are providing insight into three major historical transformations: evolution of the amniote egg, evolution of viviparity, and evolution of placentotrophy. Squamates (lizards and snakes) are ideal for such studies because their fetal membranes sustain embryos in oviparous species and contribute to placentas in viviparous species. Ultrastructure of the fetal membranes in oviparous corn snakes (Pituophis guttatus) shows that the chorioallantois is specialized for gas exchange and the omphalopleure, for water absorption. Transmission and scanning electron microscopic studies of viviparous thamnophine snakes (Thamnophis, Storeria) have revealed morphological specializations for gas exchange and absorption in the intra-uterine environment that represent modifications of features found in oviparous species. Thus, fetal membranes in oviparous species show morphological differentiation for distinct functions that have been recruited and enhanced under viviparous conditions. The ultimate in specialization of fetal membranes is found in viviparous skinks of South America (Mabuya) and Africa (Trachylepis, Eumecia), in which placentotrophy accounts for nearly all of the nutrients for development. Ongoing research on these lizards has revealed morphological specializations of the chorioallantoic placenta through which nutrient transfer is accomplished. In addition, African Trachylepis show an invasive form of implantation, in which uterine epithelium is replaced by invading chorionic cells. Ongoing analysis of these lizards shows how integration of multiple lines of evidence can provide insight into the evolution of developmental and reproductive specializations once thought to be confined to eutherian mammals.
圖片連結: Snakes of Georgia and South Carolina (photo credit: JD Willson)