Cranial arterial pattern of the Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain,Moschiola memmina, and comparative basicranial osteology of the Tragulidae

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The cranial arterial pattern of artiodactyls deviates significantly from the typical mammalian pattern. One of the most striking atypical features is the rete mirabile epidurale: a subdural arterial meshwork that functionally and anatomically replaces the arteria carotis interna. This meshwork facilitates an exceptional ability to cool the brain, and was thought to be present in all artiodactyls. Recent research, however, has found that species of mouse deer (Artiodactyla: Tragulidae) endemic to the Malay Archipelago possess a complete a. carotis interna instead of a rete mirabile epidurale. As tragulids are the sister group to pecoran ruminants, the lack of a rete mirabile epidurale in these species raises intriguing evolutionary questions about the origin and nature of artiodactyl thermoregulatory cranial vasculature. In this study, cranial arterial patterns are documented for the remaining species within the Tragulidae. Radiopaque latex vascular injection, computed tomography (CT-scanning), and digital 3-dimensional anatomical reconstruction are used to image the cranial arteries of a Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, Moschiola meminna. Sites of hard and soft tissue interaction were identified, and these osteological correlates were then sought in nine skulls representative of the remaining tragulid species. Both hard and soft tissue surveys confirm that the presence of an a. carotis interna is the common condition for tragulids.Moreover, the use of a 3-D, radiographic anatomical imaging technique enabled identification of a carotico-maxillary anastomosis that may have implications for the evolution of the artiodactyl rete mirabile epidurale.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1451
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015



  • Anatomical imaging
  • Artiodactyla
  • Carotid rete
  • Cranial vasculature
  • Evolution
  • Ruminant
  • Tragulidae

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