Placental diversity in malagasy tenrecs: placentation in shrew tenrecs (Microgale spp.), the mole-like rice tenrec (Oryzorictes hova) and the web-footed tenrec (Limnogale mergulus)

Placenta. 2007 Jul;28(7):748-59. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2006.10.003. Epub 2006 Nov 17.


Placentation in tenrecs of the subfamily Oryzorictinae, family Tenrecidae, has not been described previously. The structure of the placenta of this group and especially of the genus Microgale was investigated to determine its similarity or dissimilarity to previously described placentas of the tenrec subfamilies Potamogalinae and Tenrecinae. Fifteen specimens of the genus Microgale ranging from an early yolk sac stage to near term were available for study. Placentation in Microgale was found to be different from other tenrecids in that there is an early simple lateral rather than central haemophagous region. In addition, a more villous portion of the placental disk forms before the formation of a more compact labyrinth. Although the definitive placenta is cellular haemomonochorial, it lacks the spongy zone found in the Tenrecinae. Neither does it resemble the endotheliochorial condition found in the Potamogalinae. Of the two genera of the subfamily Oryzorictinae represented by single specimens, the placenta of Limnogale resembled that of the Microgale but Oryzorictes had several differences including a lobulated placental disk. It is concluded that there is more variation in placentation both within the subfamily Oryzorictinae and within the family Tenrecidae than would ordinarily be expected.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eulipotyphla / anatomy & histology
  • Eulipotyphla / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Placenta / cytology
  • Placentation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Shrews / anatomy & histology
  • Shrews / physiology*