Muscular function and skull growth in the laboratory rat (Rattus norvegicus)



Bilateral masseterectomy in newly-born rats results in a diminution in cranial weight and size. Such reduction affects the facial skeleton to a greater overall extent than the braincase, although in each region it is the dimensions of length that are affected to a greater extent that are those of height or width. Such contrasts are not dependent upon changes in body weight.

Removal of both temporal muscles—a smaller component of the masticatory musculature—results in little change in cranial proportions other than an increase in width of the braincase.

Such findings can be related, first, to contrasts in the timing of growth in the braincase and facial skeleton and, second, to the extent to which muscular function is reduced.