The morphology of the pecten oculi of the ostrich, Struthio camelus

S. G. Kiama, J. N. Maina, J. Bhattacharjee, D. K. Mwangi, R. G. Macharia, K. D. Weyrauch

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The pecten oculi is a structure peculiar to the avian eye. Three morphological types of pecten oculi are recognized: conical type, vaned type and pleated type. The pleated type has been well studied. However, there exists only scanty data on the morphology of the latter two types of pectens. The structure of the vaned type of pecten of the ostrich, Struthio camelus was investigated with light and electron microscope. The pecten of this species consists of a vertical primary lamella that arises from the optic disc and supports 16-19 laterally located secondary lamellae, which run from the base and confluence at the apex. Some of the secondary lamellae give rise to 2 or 3 tertiary lamellae. The lamellae provide a wide surface, which supports 2-3 layers of blood capillaries. Pigmentation is highest at the distal ends of the secondary and tertiary lamella where blood capillaries are concentrated and very scanty on the primary and the proximal ends of the secondary lamella where the presence of capillaries is much reduced. In contrast to the capillaries of the pleated pecten, the endothelium of the capillaries in the pecten of the ostrich exhibits very few microvilli. These observations suggest that the morphology of the pecten of the ostrich, a flightless ratite bird is unique to the pleated pecten and is designed to meet the balance between optimal vision and large surface area for blood supply and yet ensuring it is kept firmly erect within the vitreous.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Anatomy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian eye
  • Ostrich
  • Pecten oculi
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Developmental Biology


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