Daniel J. Hillmann, DVM, PhD
Department of Veterinary Anatomy & Fine Structure, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
The purpose of this poster is to present a topographic overview of the
undisturbed anatomical interrelationships of the fetal bowhead whale (Balaena
mysticetus). Excluding any three-dimensional dissection, multiplanar images, consisting of
transverse, sagittal, and dorsal images are presented for each of three general body areas of
the bowhead whale fetus. They are, the Head and Neck, the Thorax, and the Abdomen and Tail.
Methods and Specimens
Two fetal bowhead whales, specimen No. 86WW1F (30 cm) and specimen No.
88KKIF (1.5 m), have been imaged using the technique of magnetic resonance imaging. Specimen
No. 86WWIF, discovered during routine subsistence slaughter of a mature female bowhead whale,
was placed in 4% BNF fixative soon after it was taken from its mother. Specimen No. 88KKIF,
along with part of the umbilicus, was fresh-frozen at the time of subsistence slaughter. The
latter specimen remained frozen until it was received by the School of Veterinary Medicine at
Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Magnetic resonance imaging of both fetal specimens, took place in New
Orleans, Louisiana at The Imaging Center in cooperation with Dr. Charles Aprill. For poster
presentation, images were selected and photographed to obtain low-contrast, 4" x 5"
black & white negatives. Negatives were contact printed on Kodak Velox, F2 photographic
paper, trimmed, arranged sequentially according to body areas, and mounted on white foam-core
More than one-thousand images have been produced using the technique of
magnetic resonance imaging in the two fetal bowhead whale specimens. All images have been read
and evaluated. From these, a limited number have been selected to illustrate the undisturbed
anatomical overview of the fetal bowhead whale. To facilitate understanding, images have been
grouped according to body area and placed in sequential order. Each figure has been labeled and
annotated to aid moving forward and backward through the specimen. Follow-up correlation
studies have been conducted using 2.5 cm thick transverse sections of specimen No. 88KKIF. The
latter studies have permitted confirmation of details found within the magnetic resonance
In addition to demonstrating excellent anatomical relationships and detail,
these studies have provided technical evidence of image quality regarding the suitability of
previously fixed and fresh-frozen specimens. A small problem exists with the interface formed
during voluntary thawing of the frozen materials. Immersion-fixed and/or better still,
perfusion-fixed materials are quite satisfactory and yield excellent images using magnetic