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Effects of hind limb denervation on the development of appendicular ossicles in the Dwarf African Clawed Frog, Hymenochirus boettgeri (Anura: Pipidae)


Brian K. Hall, Department of Biology, Life Sciences Building, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4J1. E-mail:


Sesamoids and other appendicular ossicles are common in other classes of vertebrates but comparatively rare in amphibians. The pipid frog Hymenochirus boettgeri (Boulenger, G. A. 1899. On Hymenochirus, a new type of aglossal batrachians. – Annals of the Magazine of Natural History Series 7: 122–125) is unusual among anurans in having seven (or more) appendicular ossicles in each hind limb. Sesamoids are often associated with muscles and tendons, and their development is usually regarded as mediated by or correlated with function. This study investigated the effects of paralysis (loss of function) on development of ossicles in the hind limb of Hymenochirus. Complete denervation of the right sciatic nerve was performed at developmental stages 63 and 66, and the animals maintained for a further 6–7 or 12–13 weeks. Specimens were cleared and double stained for cartilage and bone. There were no gross morphological differences between control and sham operated groups. The lunulae were not affected by paralysis, whereas the fabella arose later and/or regressed in some specimens. The distal os sesamoides tarsalia (OST) was shorter in paralysed individuals, and both the distal OST and cartilagines plantares showed delayed maturation. Denervation of the hind limb thus affected the timing of appearance, maintenance and rate of maturation of some sesamoid bones in Hymenochirus, but had no effect on others.

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