The visual system of a Palaeognathous bird: Visual field, retinal topography and retino‐central connections in the Chilean Tinamou (Nothoprocta perdicaria)

Krabichler, Quirin; VEGA-ZÚNIGA, TOMÁS; Morales, Cristian; Luksch, Harald; Marín, Gonzalo


Most systematic studies of the avian visual system have focused on Neognathous species, leaving virtually unexplored the Palaeognathae, comprised of the flightless ratites and the South American tinamous. We investigated the visual field, the retinal topography, and the pattern of retinal and centrifugal projections in the Chilean tinamou, a small Palaeognath of the family Tinamidae. The tinamou has a panoramic visual field with a small frontal binocular overlap of 20°. The retina possesses three distinct topographic specializations: a horizontal visual streak, a dorsotemporal area, and an area centralis with a shallow fovea. The maximum ganglion cell density is 61,900/ mm2, comparable to Falconiformes. This would provide a maximal visual acuity of 14.0 cycles/degree, in spite of relatively small eyes. The central retinal projections generally conform to the characteristic arrangement observed in Neognathae, with well‐differentiated contralateral targets and very few ipsilateral fibers. The centrifugal visual system is composed of a considerable number of multipolar centrifugal neurons, resembling the “ectopic” neurons described in Neognathae. They form a diffuse nuclear structure, which may correspond to the ancestral condition shared with other sauropsids. A notable feature is the presence of terminals in deep tectal layers 11–13. These fibers may represent either a novel retinotectal pathway or collateral branches from centrifugal neurons projecting to the retina. Both types of connections have been described in chicken embryos. Our results widen the basis for comparative studies of the vertebrate visual system, stressing the conserved character of the visual projections' pattern within the avian clade

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Volumen: 523
Editorial: Wiley
Fecha de publicación: 2015