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Data from: Avian cephalic vascular anatomy, sites of thermal exchange, and the rete ophthalmicum


Porter, William Ruger; Witmer, Lawrence M.; Porter, WM Ruger (2017), Data from: Avian cephalic vascular anatomy, sites of thermal exchange, and the rete ophthalmicum, Dryad, Dataset,


The general anatomy of avian cephalic blood vessels is well known and there are published details of their role in physiological thermoregulation. Unfortunately, the finer details of vascular pathways to and from sites of thermal exchange are not well known. Additionally, the role of the rete ophthalmicum (RO), a vascular heat exchanger in the temporal region, has been investigated in terms of brain temperature regulation, yet only the arteries have received substantial attention. Without anatomical details of both the arterial and venous pathways, the role of blood vessels in physiological thermoregulation is incomplete. Cephalic vascular anatomy of multiple avian taxa was investigated using a differential-contrast, dual-vascular injection technique and high-resolution X-ray microcomputed tomography. Sites of thermal exchange (oral, nasal, and orbital regions) and the RO were given special attention due to their known roles in cephalic thermoregulation. Blood vessels to and from sites of thermal exchange were investigated to detect conserved vascular patterns and their ability to deliver cooled blood to the RO and dural venous sinus. Sites of thermal exchange were supplied by arteries directly and through collateral pathways. Veins were found to offer multiple pathways that could influence the temperature of neurosensory tissues, as well as pathways that would bypass neurosensory tissues. These results question the paradigm that arterial blood from the RO is the primary method of brain cooling in birds. A shift in the primary role of the RO from brain cooling to regulating and maintaining the temperature of the avian eye should be further investigated.

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