Morphology of the cloaca in the estuarine crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, and its plastic response to salinity

J Morphol. 2000 Aug;245(2):168-76. doi: 10.1002/1097-4687(200008)245:2<168::AID-JMOR7>3.0.CO;2-1.


The cloacal complex of Crocodylus porosus is composed of three chambers (proctodaeum, urodaeum, and coprodaeum) separated by tight, muscular sphincters. The proctodaeum is proximal to the cloacal vent and houses the genitalia. The urodaeum is the largest chamber, is capable of storing large quantities of urine, and is lined with an epithelium with the capacity for transepithelial water and ion exchange. The coprodaeum, the most orad cloacal chamber, is a small, only marginally expandable chamber that has an epithelium composed almost entirely of mucus-secreting cells. The coprodaeum and lower intestine are reported to be the site(s) for urine modification in birds and bladderless lizards. A radiographic trace of urine storage in C. porosus kept for 2 months under hyperosmotic conditions showed no signs of retrograde movement of urine into the coprodaeum or rectum. Instead, urine was stored in the urodaeum of C. porosus. Examination of the mucosal surface of the urodaeum by SEM showed a plastic response to environmental salinity, with a possible increase in surface area in animals kept in hyperosmotic water compared with animals from fresh water. We propose the urodaeum as the primary site for postrenal modification of urine in C. porosus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Alligators and Crocodiles / anatomy & histology*
  • Alligators and Crocodiles / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cloaca / anatomy & histology*
  • Cloaca / drug effects
  • Cloaca / physiology
  • Colon / anatomy & histology
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fresh Water
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / pharmacology
  • Sodium Chloride / analysis
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology*
  • Urine
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic
  • Water
  • Sodium Chloride