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J Morphol January 1, 2001; 247 (1): 1-33.

Mandibular arch musculature of anuran tadpoles, with comments on homologies of amphibian jaw muscles.

Haas A .

This study analyzes the structure of the mandibular arch musculature in larval, metamorphic, and postmetamorphic anurans of 26 species and makes comparisons with larvae of three caudate and one gymnophione species. Major transformations in early evolution of anuran larvae comprise, for example, the powering of the larval upper jaw cartilages by relocating insertion sites of mandibular arch levators; splitting of some larval muscles into two muscles or muscle heads (m. intermandibularis, m. lev. mand. externus, m. lev. mand. longus); evolution of a muscle invading the lower lip of the oral disk (m. mandibulolabialis), and shift of origin of the internus and longus muscles from dorsal on the cranium to sites on the ventral otic capsule and palatoquadrate, respectively. In all these characters, Ascaphus truei shares the plesiomorphic conditions with caudates. The larva of Xenopus laevis is remarkable because the insertion pattern of three larval mandibular muscles anticipates the postmetamorphic condition of frogs in general and also resembles the caudate condition. Discoglossids, bombinatorids, pelobatids, and neobatrachians are largely similar in their muscle arrangements. The filter-feeding microhylids, however, have most clearly modified the general neobatrachian pattern. Past conflicts in the interpretation and naming of muscles can be attributed to the implicit or explicit homology assumptions used. In particular, the muscles'' relations to the branches of the trigeminal nerve have been the dominant criteria for inferring homology and has led to inconsistencies. This concept is questioned herein. It is observed that the relative position of the ramus mandibularis (V(3)) is more variable interspecifically in anuran larvae than previously thought. The relations of the nerve branches and muscles in larvae are maintained during metamorphosis. Considering the muscle pattern to be more conserved in interspecific comparisons than the position of the nerve branches results in a new interpretation of muscle homologies and a hypothesis of jaw muscle evolution in amphibians that is more parsimonious than earlier views. A new, simplified terminology for the jaw musculature is proposed that is applicable for larvae and adults. It maximizes information content and reflects the hypothesized homologies of amphibian jaw muscles.

PubMed ID: 11124683
Article link: J Morphol