DAO 42:71-75 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/dao042071

Elemental analysis of cetacean skull lesions associated with nematode infections

S. Pascual1,*, E. Abollo1, A. López2

1Area de Parasitología, Grupo PB2, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Vigo, Aptdo. 874, 36200 Vigo, Spain
2Coordinadora para o Estudio dos Mamíferos Mariños Anxeríz 8, 5ยบ D, Milladoiro, 15895 Ames, La Coruña, Spain

ABSTRACT: The elemental composition of both healthy and eroded cetacean skulls associated with nematode infections was evaluated. A total of 27 samples of eroded and non-eroded prepared museum cetacean skulls were characterised by elemental (CHN), X-ray fluorescence, and X-ray diffraction methods. The inorganic composition and crystal line structure (hydroxylapatite-like minerals) were similar for both types of skull samples, but the CHN values clearly differed. The results suggest that the carbon-rich fraction is lost in eroded areas, probably as a result of glycosaminoglycan-degrading Crassicauda enzymes.

KEY WORDS: Cetacean · Skull lesions · Crassicauda

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