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Keywords:

  • Gonatodes albogularis;
  • carpus;
  • tarsus;
  • homology;
  • limb development;
  • Squamata

Abstract

Despite the attention squamate lizards have received in the study of digit and limb loss, little is known about limb morphogenesis in pentadactyl lizards. Recent developmental studies have provided a basis for understanding lizard autopodial element homology based on developmental and comparative anatomy. In addition, the composition and identity of some carpal and tarsal elements of lizard limbs, and reptiles in general, have been the theme of discussions about their homology compared to non-squamate Lepidosauromorpha and basal Amniota. The study of additional embryonic material from different lizard families may improve our understanding of squamate limb evolution. Here, we analyze limb morphogenesis in the gekkonid lizard Gonatodes albogularis describing patterns of chondrogenesis and ossification from early stages of embryonic development to hatchlings. Our results are in general agreement with previous developmental studies, but we also show that limb development in squamates probably involves more chondrogenic elements for carpal and tarsal morphogenesis, as previously recognized on the grounds of comparative anatomy. We provide evidence for the transitory presence of distal carpale 1 and intermedium in the carpus and tibiale, intermedium, distal centralia, and distal tarsale 2 in the tarsus. Hence, we demonstrate that some elements that were believed to be lost in squamate evolution are conserved as transitory elements during limb development. However, these elements do not represent just phylogenetic burden but may be important for the morphogenesis of the lizard autopodium. J. Morphol., 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.