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Four-dimensional analysis of early pelvic girdle development in Rana temporaria



A key event in vertebrate evolution is the linkage of the appendicular to the axial skeleton. The present study investigates the developmental dynamics of pelvic girdle morphogenesis in Rana temporaria up until metamorphosis, with respect to its functional and spatio-temporal organization. The main questions to be addressed are: initial location and the number of elements contributing to pelvic girdle formation, mechanism of bridging between the pelvic anlage and the sacrum and arthrogenesis. Serial histological sections of specimens from Gosner Stages 30 to 41 were bright-field microscopically examined and 3D-reconstructed. 3D-models were merged to 4D-animations illustrating the complex developmental dynamics through time. The results reveal the initial formation of a single mesenchymal condensation located close to the appendicular skeleton, but far from the axial skeleton. In addition, our analysis detects a thin connective tissue strand in R. temporaria guiding the elongation of the ilium towards the sacrum. The 4D-visualization allows novel insight into the ilio-sacral bridging process and the reorientation of the pelvis. J. Morphol., 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.