Fossil musculature of the most primitive jawed vertebrates

Katherine Trinajstic, Sophie Sanchez, Vincent Dupret, Paul Tafforeau, John Long, Gavin Young, Tim Senden, Catherine Boisvert, Nicola Power, Per Ahlberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    The transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) resulted in the reconfiguration of the muscles and skeleton of the head, including the creation of a separate shoulder girdle with distinct neck muscles. We describe here the only known examples of preserved musculature from placoderms (extinct armored fishes), the phylogenetically most basal jawed vertebrates. Placoderms possess a regionalized muscular anatomy that differs radically from the musculature of extant sharks, which is often viewed as primitive for gnathostomes. The placoderm data suggest that neck musculature evolved together with a dermal joint between skull and shoulder girdle, not as part of a broadly flexible neck as in sharks, and that transverse abdominal muscles are an innovation of gnathostomes rather than of tetrapods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)160-164
    Number of pages5
    Issue number6142
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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