Cephalic muscles of Cyclostomes (hagfishes and lampreys) and Chondrichthyes (sharks, rays and holocephalans): Comparative anatomy and early evolution of the vertebrate head muscles

Sep 1, 2014

Living vertebrate diversity comprises hagfishes and lampreys (Cyclostomata), elasmobranchs and holocephalans (Chondrichthyes), and bony fish which include tetrapods (Osteichthyes). Based on dissections and an extensive comparative analysis, we provide an updated overview of the anatomy, homologies and evolution of cyclostome and chondrichthyan cephalic muscles, with osteichthyans as primary comparative taxa. The analysis also infers plesiomorphic conditions for vertebrates and gnathostomes. We follow a uniform myological terminology for the Gnathostomata to demonstrate that the last common ancestor of extant vertebrates probably had a single intermandibularis and other mandibular muscles (labial muscles), some constrictores hyoidei and branchiales, and epibranchial and hypobranchial muscle sheets. The division of the cucullaris into levatores arcuum branchialium and protractor pectoralis is an osteichthyan synapomorphy and reflects an evolutionary trend towards a greater separation between the head and pectoral girdle that culminated in the formation of the tetrapod neck. Hence, this paper addresses a long-standing, central issue regarding vertebrate comparative anatomy. It thus provides a valuable basis for future evolutionary, developmental and functional studies of vertebrates and/or of specific vertebrate subgroups/model organisms.