Scanning Electron Microscopy


Otolith formation was studied in a mutant strain of low-fertility Delaware chicks which exhibit an otolithic defect. In all chicks of this strain, otoliths were present as a fused crystal mass which contained abnormally large (giant) otoconia. Studies of the formation of such otoliths during embryonic development revealed that from the very earliest stages the otoconia were much larger than normal, and in the saccular and utricular otoliths formed a fused mass. These results are interpreted as supporting a hypothesis of the de novo formation of giant otoconia in this giant-crystal strain as opposed to the recrystallization hypothesis proposed for other, dissimilar mutant mammals and birds which also produce giant otoconia.

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