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The Specialized Posterolateral Sebaceous Glandular Regions in Microtine Rodents

W. B. Quay
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1378201 427-445 First published online: 20 August 1968


Rodents of the subfamily Microtinae are frequently characterized by the presence of enlarged and modified sebaceous glands in a posterolateral zone of the skin. Within this zone, four sites of special glandular development typify particular genera and subgenera: (1) caudal (Dicrostonyx); (2) rump (Lemmus); (3) hip (Microtus in part); and (4) flank (Synaptomys, Neofiber, Clethrionomys, Aschizomys, Eothenomys, Alticola, Phenacomys in part, Lagurus, Arvicola, and Microtus in part. Flank glands are probably a primitive feature in the subfamily and suggest relationship with Old World cricetines. Correlations are suggested at four taxonomic or evolutionary levels within the Microtinae. At the lowest of these, from population to species, in Microtus greater frequency and development of posterolateral glands occurs in higher latitudes. Throughout the subfamily when present, flank and hip glands are either present in all individuals of a species or of a population, or they are in some degree more frequent or better developed in the older males, suggesting both genetic and androgenic dependence. Glandular structure, variation, and taxonomic distribution are described and probable evolutionary and biological correlations are discussed.

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