The numbers of neurons of the ganglion cell layer (GCL) and their distribution in the retina of an Australian lizard Ctenophorus nuchalis were investigated. Retinal wholemounts and sections were prepared for light microscopic and optic nerves for electron microscopic study. Counts of cell numbers in the GCL from wholemounts varied from 200,000 to 380,000. Neurons in the GCL were non-uniformly distributed, forming a high cell density streak along the naso-temporal axis of the retina. Neurons of the GCL formed 2 to 9 layers in the visual streak and a single layer in the rest of the retina. The number of neurons of the GCL in this area was estimated at about 2,100,000. Althouth the visual streak represented only 16% of the total retinal surface area, it contained about 90% of all neurons of the GCL. Optic axon counts yielded 147,000 myelinated and 2,643,000 unmyelinated fibres. The estimated optic fibre number of 2,790,000 was 18.2% less than the total number of neurons counted from sections in the GCL of the same eye. The unexpected high number of neurons in the area of the visual streak indicates that cell numbers obtained only from wholemount preparations may vastly underestimate the total neuron numbers in the GCL of the lizard retina.
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