Supplementary material from "Pectoral girdle and forelimb musculoskeletal function in the echidna (<i>Tachyglossus aculeatus</i>): insights into mammalian locomotor evolution"

Published on 2018-11-08T03:58:30Z (GMT) by
Although evolutionary transformation of the pectoral girdle and forelimb appears to have had a profound impact on mammalian locomotor and ecological diversity, both the sequence of anatomical changes and the functional implications remain unclear. Monotremes can provide insight into an important stage of this evolutionary transformation, due to their phylogenetic position as the sister-group to therian mammals and their mosaic of plesiomorphic and derived features. Here we build a musculoskeletal computer model of the echidna pectoral girdle and forelimb to estimate joint ranges of motion (ROM) and muscle moment arms (MMA)—two fundamental descriptors of biomechanical function. We find that the echidna's skeletal morphology restricts scapulocoracoid mobility and glenohumeral flexion–extension compared with therians. Estimated shoulder ROMs and MMAs for muscles crossing the shoulder indicate that morphology of the echidna pectoral girdle and forelimb is optimized for humeral adduction and internal rotation, consistent with limited <i>in vivo</i> data. Further, more muscles act to produce humeral long-axis rotation in the echidna compared to therians, as a consequence of differences in muscle geometry. Our musculoskeletal model allows correlation of anatomy and function, and can guide hypotheses regarding function in extinct taxa and the morphological and locomotor transformation leading to therian mammals.

Cite this collection

Regnault, Sophie; E. Pierce, Stephanie (2018): Supplementary material from "Pectoral girdle and forelimb musculoskeletal function in the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus): insights into mammalian locomotor evolution". The Royal Society. Collection.