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Abstract

Metamorphic reorganization of the head in anuran amphibians entails abrupt restructuring of the jaw complex as larval feeding structural lM transformed into their adult configurations, In this morphometric study, light microscopy was used to analyze the larval maturation and metamorphic transfiguration of the adductor jaw muscles in the leopard frog (Rana pipiens). Larval jaw muscles, first established during embryogenesis, continue to grow by fiber addition until prometamorphosis, stage XIL Thereafter, fiber number remains stable but additional muscle growth continues by hypertrophy of the individual fibers until metamorphic climax. During metamorphic stages XIX-XXIII, a complete involution of all larval myofibers occurs. Simultaneously, within the same muscle beds, a second wave of myogenesis produces myoblasts which are the precursors of adult jaw myofibers. New muscle fibers continue to be added to these muscles well after the completion of metamorphosis; however, the total duration of the postmetamorphic myogenic period has not been defined. These observations provide clear evidence that the entire population of primary myofibers used in larval oral activity disappears from the adductor muscle beds and is replaced by a second wave of myogenesis commencing during climax. These findings indicate that the adductor jaw muscles are prepared for adult feeding by a complicated cellular process that retrofits existing muscle beds with a completely new complement of myofibers.