Suspension and optical properties of the crystalline lens in the eyes of basal vertebrates.
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We have investigated the apparatus suspending the crystalline lens in the eyes of basal vertebrates. Data are presented for Holocephali (Chondrichthyes) and the actinopterygians Polypteriformes, Polyodontidae (Acipenseriformes), Lepisosteiformes, Amiiformes, and one teleost species, the banded archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix). We also studied the optical properties of the lens in Polypteriformes, Lepisosteiformes, and the archerfish. Together with previously published results, our findings show that there are three basic types of lens suspension in vertebrates. These are i) a rotationally symmetric suspension (Petromyzontida, lampreys; Ceratodontiformes, lungfishes; Tetrapoda), ii) a suspension with a dorso-ventral axis of symmetry and a ventral papilla (all Chondrichthyes and Acipenseriformes), and iii) an asymmetric suspension with a ventral muscle and a varying number of ligaments (all Actinopterygii except for Acipenseriformes). Large eyes with presumably high spatial resolution have evolved in all groups. Multifocal lenses creating well-focused color images are also present in all groups studied. Stable and exact positioning of the lens, in many cases in combination with accommodative changes in lens position or shape, is achieved by all three types of lens suspension. It is somewhat surprising that lens suspensions are strikingly similar in Chondrichthyes and Acipenseriformes (Actinopterygii), while the suspension apparatus in Polypteriformes, usually being regarded as an actinopterygian group more basal than Acipenseriformes, are considerably more teleostean-like. This study completes a series of investigations on lens suspensions in nontetrapod vertebrates, covering all major groups except for the rare and highly derived coelacanths.