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Anat Cell Biol. 2011 Mar;44(1):8-13. English. Review.
Moon C .
Department of Veterinary Anatomy, College of Veterinary Medicine, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Korea.

The infrared (IR) receptors in the pit organ of crotaline snakes are very sensitive to temperature. The sensitivity to IR radiation is much greater in crotaline snakes than in boid snakes because they have a thermosensitive membrane suspended in a pair of pits that comprise the pit organ. The vasculature of the pit membrane, which is located near IR-sensitive terminal nerve masses, the IR receptors, supplies the blood necessary to provide cooling and the energy and oxygen that the IR receptors require. The ophthalmic and maxillary branches of the trigeminal nerve innervate the pit membrane. In crotaline snakes, the trigeminal ganglion (TG) is divided into the ophthalmic and maxillomandibular ganglia; a prominent septum further separates the two divisions of the maxillomandibular ganglion. The TG neurons in the ophthalmic ganglion and the maxillary division of the maxillomandibular ganglion relay IR sensation to the brain. This article reviews the IR-sensitive pit organ and trigeminal sensory system structures in crotaline snakes.

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