Placentation in the Mexican Lizard Sceloporus mucronatus (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae)

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We used light microscopy to study placental structure of the lizard Sceloporus mucronatus throughout 6 months of embryonic development. Three stages of placental development could be assigned to embryos based on the arrangement of the extraembryonic membranes. A highly vascular choriovitelline placenta was present in the embryonic hemisphere and a nonvascular bilaminar omphalopleure covered most of the abembryonic hemisphere of the egg during embryonic Stages 10-28. A chorioallantoic placenta replaced the choriovitelline placenta by embryonic Stage 29 and an omphaloplacenta covered the abembryonic hemisphere at this stage. The combination of these two placental types occurred in Stage 29-36 embryos. The final stage of placentation, embryonic Stages 37-40, was characterized by an omphalallantoic placenta in the abembryonic hemisphere and a chorioallantoic placenta in the embryonic hemisphere of the egg. The choriovitelline and chorioallantoic placentae are well vascularized, with closely apposed maternal and embryonic blood vessels. These structures are the most likely sites of respiratory exchange. In contrast, the omphaloplacenta and omphalallantoic placentae contain cuboidal or columnar epithelia and these structures may function in histotrophic exchange. Placentation of S. mucronatus is similar to that of predominantly lecithotrophic species in other squamate lineages suggesting that the evolution of this placental morphology is a response to similar factors and is independent of phylogeny.