The Anatomy and Ontogeny of the Head, Neck, Pectoral, and Upper Limb Muscles of Lemur catta and Propithecus coquereli (Primates): Discussion on the Parallelism Between Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Implications for Evolutionary and Developmental Biology



Most anatomical studies of primates focus on skeletal tissues, but muscular anatomy can provide valuable information about phylogeny, functional specializations, and evolution. Herein, we present the first detailed description of the head, neck, pectoral, and upper limb muscles of the fetal lemuriforms Lemur catta (Lemuridae) and Propithecus coquereli (Indriidae). These two species belong to the suborder Strepsirrhini, which is often presumed to possess some plesiomorphic anatomical features within primates. We compare the muscular anatomy of the fetuses with that of infants and adults and discuss the evolutionary and developmental implications. The fetal anatomy reflects a phylogenetically more plesiomorphic condition in nine of the muscles we studied and a more derived condition in only two, supporting a parallel between ontogeny and phylogeny. The derived exceptions concern muscles with additional insertions in the fetus which are lost in adults of the same species, that is, flexor carpi radialis inserts on metacarpal III and levator claviculae inserts on the clavicle. Interestingly, these two muscles are involved in movements of the pectoral girdle and upper limb, which are mainly important for activities in later stages of life, such as locomotion and prey capture, rather than activities in fetal life. Accordingly, our findings suggest that some exceptions to the “ontogeny parallels phylogeny” rule are probably driven more by ontogenetic constraints than by adaptive plasticity. Anat Rec, 297:1435–1453, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.