Homology of the Jaw Muscles in Lizards and Snakes—A Solution from a Comparative Gnathostome Approach


  • Peter Johnston

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy with Radiology, University of Auckland, Private Bag, Auckland, New Zealand
    • Correspondence to: Peter Johnston; Department of Anatomy with Radiology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. E-mail: psjohnston@clear.net.nz

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Homology or shared evolutionary origin of jaw adductor muscles in lizards and snakes has been difficult to establish, although snakes clearly arose within the lizard radiation. Lizards typically have temporal adductors layered lateral to medial, and in snakes the muscles are arranged in a rostral to caudal pattern. Recent work has suggested that the jaw adductor group in gnathostomes is arranged as a folded sheet; when this theory is applied to snakes, homology with lizard morphology can be seen. This conclusion revisits the work of S.B. McDowell, J Herpetol 1986; 20:353–407, who proposed that homology involves identity of m. levator anguli oris and the loss of m. adductor mandibulae externus profundus, at least in “advanced” (colubroid) snakes. Here I advance the folded sheet hypothesis across the whole snake tree using new and literature data, and provide a solution to this homology problem. Anat Rec, 297:574–585, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.