Soft-tissue anatomy of the primates: phylogenetic analyses based on the muscles of the head, neck, pectoral region and upper limb, with notes on the evolution of these muscles

Authors


Rui Diogo, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, 2110 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA. T: +1 202 2481440; F: + 1 202 9946097; E:ruidiogo@gwmail.gwu.edu; rui_diogo@hotmail.com

Abstract

Apart from molecular data, nearly all the evidence used to study primate relationships comes from hard tissues. Here, we provide details of the first parsimony and Bayesian cladistic analyses of the order Primates based exclusively on muscle data. The most parsimonious tree obtained from the cladistic analysis of 166 characters taken from the head, neck, pectoral and upper limb musculature is fully congruent with the most recent evolutionary molecular tree of Primates. That is, this tree recovers not only the relationships among the major groups of primates, i.e. Strepsirrhini {Tarsiiformes [Platyrrhini (Cercopithecidae, Hominoidea)]}, but it also recovers the relationships within each of these inclusive groups. Of the 301 character state changes occurring in this tree, ca. 30% are non-homoplasic evolutionary transitions; within the 220 changes that are unambiguously optimized in the tree, ca. 15% are reversions. The trees obtained by using characters derived from the muscles of the head and neck are more similar to the most recent evolutionary molecular tree than are the trees obtained by using characters derived from the pectoral and upper limb muscles. It was recently argued that since the Pan/Homo split, chimpanzees accumulated more phenotypic adaptations than humans, but our results indicate that modern humans accumulated more muscle character state changes than chimpanzees, and that both these taxa accumulated more changes than gorillas. This overview of the evolution of the primate head, neck, pectoral and upper limb musculature suggests that the only muscle groups for which modern humans have more muscles than most other extant primates are the muscles of the face, larynx and forearm.

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