New Interpretation of the 3-D Configuration of Lateral Line Scales and the Lateral Line Canal Contained within Them

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The lateral line scales are important features of bony fishes, but the three-dimensional configuration of the scales and the lateral line canal segments contained within them have been illustrated inaccurately in the literature. The lateral line scales of ten percomorph species (in Embiotocidae, Pomacentridae, and Pleuronectiformes Bothidae, Pleuronectidae) were studied histologically and in cleared and stained material. Canal diameter and the degree of overlap between adjacent lateral line scales appears to vary among species, but the lateral line scales are consistently oriented at a shallow angle, the cylindrical canal segments form a continuous canal that runs roughly parallel to the skin surface, one neuromast is typically found in the floor of each canal segment, and canal pores (when present) are perforations of the epithelium between adjacent lateral line scales. A new figure illustrates this anatomical configuration, which is in stark contrast to that portrayed in textbooks and in the primary literature, but is likely common among bony fishes. This work provides a new interpretation of a fundamental feature of bony fishes and highlights the ease with which inaccurate figures are disseminated and thus the need to verify the accuracy of anatomical illustrations.

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