Recent studies in this laboratory have revealed that surface applications of microliter amounts of some crude and fuel oils that coat less than 10% of the egg surface reduce hatching considerably in different avian species. Applications of paraffin compounds that coat equal areas of the egg surface do not reduce hatching suggesting that toxicity is due to causes other than asphyxia. In the present study, 1?10 :l of South Louisiana crude oil, an API reference oil, were applied to the surface of fertile mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and chicken (Gallus gallus) eggs. Early embryolethality was greater in mallard embryos than in chick embryos, but later embryolethality that coincided with the time of rapid outgrowth of the chorioallantoic membrane was more prevalent in chick embryos. The overall incidence of embryolethality was similar in both species. Retardation of growth as reflected by embryonic body weight, crown-rump length, beak length, and general appearance was more pronounced in chick than mallard embryos. Teratogenic defects were more frequent in chick embryos, and incomplete or abnormal ossification of the skull was the most common. External application of equivalent amounts of a mixture of paraffin compounds present in crude oil had virtually no embryotoxic effects in either species, suggesting that other components including aromatic hydrocarbons and organometallics may cause the embryotoxicity.
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Embryotoxic effects of crude oil in mallard ducks and chicks