[MARMAM] New Publication: Patterns of cetacean vaginal folds yield insights into functionality

Dara Orbach dnorbach at gmail.com
Sun Apr 2 05:54:54 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues,
My coauthors and I are pleased to announce the publication of the following
article in PLoS One:

Orbach DN, Marshall CD, Mesnick SL, Wursig B (2017) Patterns of cetacean
vaginal folds yield insights into functionality. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0175037.

ABSTRACT: Complex foldings of the vaginal wall are unique to some cetaceans
and artiodactyls and are
of unknown function(s). The patterns of vaginal length and cumulative
vaginal fold length were assessed in relation to body length and to each
other in a phylogenetic context to derive insights into functionality. The
reproductive tracts of 59 female cetaceans (20 species, 6 families) were
dissected. Phylogenetically-controlled reduced major axis regressions
were used to establish a scaling trend for the female genitalia of
cetaceans. An unparalleled level of vaginal diversity within a mammalian
order was found. Vaginal folds varied in number and size across species,
and vaginal fold length was positively allometric with body length. Vaginal
length was not a significant predictor of vaginal fold length. Functional
hypotheses regarding the role of vaginal folds and the potential selection
pressures that could lead to evolution of these structures are discussed.
Vaginal folds may present physical barriers, which obscure the pathway of
seawater and/or sperm travelling through the vagina. This study contributes
broad insights to the evolution of reproductive morphology and aquatic
adaptations and lays the foundation for future functional morphology

The publication is open access and available at
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175037 or by email to
dnorbach at gmail.com

Dara Orbach, PhD

Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellow
Whitehead Lab
Department of Biology
Dalhousie University
dnorbach at gmail.com
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