The otter shrews are members of the subfamily Potamogalinae within the family Tenrecidae. No description of the ovaries of any member of this subfamily has been published previously. The lesser hedgehog tenrec, Echinops telfairi, is a member of the subfamily Tenrecinae of the same family and, although its ovaries have not been described, other members of this subfamily have been shown to have ovaries with non-antral follicles. Examination of these two species illustrated that non-antral follicles were characteristic of the ovaries of both species, as was clefting and lobulation of the ovaries. Juvenile otter shrews range from those with only small follicles in the cortex to those with 300- to 400-microm follicles similar to those seen in non-pregnant and pregnant adults. As in other species, most of the growth of the oocyte occurred when follicles had one to two layers of granulosa cells. When larger follicles became atretic in the Nimba otter shrew, hypertrophy of the theca interna produced nodules of glandular interstitial tissue. In the tenrec, the hypertrophying theca interna cells in most large follicles appeared to undergo degeneration. Both species had some follicular fluid in the intercellular spaces between the more peripheral granulosa cells. It is suggested that this fluid could aid in separation of the cumulus from the remaining granulosa at ovulation. The protruding follicles in lobules and absence of a tunica albuginea might also facilitate ovulation of non-antral follicles. Ovaries with a thin-absent tunica albuginea and follicles with small-absent antra are widespread within both the Eulipotyphla and in the Afrosoricida, suggesting that such features may represent a primitive condition in ovarian development. Lobulated and deeply crypted ovaries are found in both groups but are not as common in the Eulipotyphla making inclusion of this feature as primitive more speculative.
Copyright 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.