Melatonin rhythms in the Australian freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni): a reptile lacking a pineal complex?
All living and most fossil representatives of the reptilian subclass Archosauria lack pineal bodies. Arrhythmic, low-level, nonpineal melatonin is present, however, in the blood of Alligator mississippiensis. Although pineal bodies have been implicated in circadian phenomena, these results suggest that arrhytmic melatonin in alligators may not be involved incircadian events and indicate that the pineal is not the only source of the hormone melatonin. The evolutionary loss of the pineal in Archosauria occurred during the Mesozoic, and era noted for its seasonal stability. Arrhythmic melatonin titers inalligators and pineal loss in alligators and other archosaurs may be related to Mesozoic seasonal stability.