Cranial Muscle Development in the Model Organism Ambystoma mexicanum : Implications for Tetrapod and Vertebrate Comparative and Evolutionary Morphology and Notes on Ontogeny and Phylogeny

Jul 1, 2013

There is still confusion about the homology of several cranial muscles in salamanders with those of other vertebrates. This is true, in part, because of the fact that many muscles present in early ontogeny of amphibians disappear during development and specifically during metamorphosis. Resolving this confusion is important for the understanding of the comparative and evolutionary morphology of vertebrates and tetrapods because amphibians are the phylogenetically most plesiomorphic tetrapods, concerning for example their myology, and include two often used model organisms, Xenopus laevis (anuran) and Ambystoma mexicanum (urodele). Here we provide the first detailed report of the cranial muscle development in axolotl from early ontogenetic stages to the adult stage. We describe different and complementary types of general muscle morphogenetic gradients in the head: from anterior to posterior, from lateral to medial, and from origin to insertion. Furthermore, even during the development of neotenic salamanders such as axolotls, various larval muscles become indistinct, contradicting the commonly accepted view that during ontogeny the tendency is mostly toward the differentiation of muscles. We provide an updated comparison between these muscles and the muscles of other vertebrates, a discussion of the homologies and evolution, and show that the order in which the muscles appear during axolotl ontogeny is in general similar to their appearance in phylogeny (e.g. differentiation of adductor mandibulae muscles from one anlage to four muscles), with only a few remarkable exceptions, as for example the dilatator laryngis that appears evolutionary later but in the development before the intermandibularis. Anat Rec, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.