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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 72-76

A morphological analysis of the cervical spine of the dolphin

1 Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
2 Department of Neurosurgery, Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M Hospital, Parel, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Anatomy, Mumbai Veterinary College, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Aimee Goel
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Stoke-on-Trent
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcvjs.jcvjs_9_21

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Objective: Morphology of bones of cervical vertebrae of dolphin was studied. When compared to human vertebrae the structural modifications in terms of functional needs are evaluated. Material: Morphological analysis of duly prepared bones of species D. delphis was carried out. Result: The craniocervical junction and cervical spine of the dolphin (Delphinus delphis) has unique adaptations to allow for dorsoventrally undulating swimming movements as well as leaping out of water. The key differences from the human cervical spine include the absence of an odontoid process limiting rotatory movements, disproportionately short and wide vertebral bodies and a unilaterally elongated transverse process of the axis. Moreover, the cervical spine of the dolphin is disproportionally short compared to humans. These modifications give strength and stability to the cervical spine allowing maximal agility for flexion-extension movements of the lumbocaudal spine, which are keys for propulsion. The unilaterally elongated transverse process likely allows for rotatory spinning, suggesting possible lateral dominance of rotatory spin in this species. Conclusions: Despite the skeletal adaptations, the cervical spine is strongly resonant of a mammalian heritage with a remarkably similar form and structure to house neurovascular contents and to allow muscular attachments.

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