The three-dimensional morphology of the membranous labyrinth of Xenopus laevis is presented from embryonic through late tadpole development (stages 28 to 52, inclusive). This was accomplished by paint-filling the endolymphatic spaces of Xenopus ears at a series of stages, beginning with the embryonic otic vesicle and ending with the complex ear of the late tadpole. At stage 52, the inner ear has expanded approximately 23-fold in its anterior/posterior dimension compared with stage 28 and it is a miniature of the adult form. The paint-filling technique illustrates the dramatic changes required to convert a simple ear vesicle into the elaborate form of the adult, including semicircular canal formation and genesis of vestibular and auditory organs, and it can serve as a basis for phenotype identification in experimentally or genetically manipulated ears.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.