The ectotympanic, malleus and incus of the developing mammalian middle ear (ME) are initially attached to the dentary via Meckel’s cartilage, betraying their origins from the primary jawjoint of land vertebrates. This recapitulation has prompted mostly unquantified suggestions that several suspected—but similarly unquantified—key evolutionary transformations leading to the mammalianMEare recapitulated in development, through negative allometry and posterior/medial displacement of ME bones relative to the jaw joint. Here we show, using mCT reconstructions, that neither allometric nor topological change is quantifiable in the pre-detachment ME development of six marsupials and two monotremes. Also, differential ME positioning in the two monotreme species is not recapitulated. This challenges the developmental prerequisites of widely cited evolutionary scenarios of definitive mammalian middle ear (DMME) evolution, highlighting the requirement for further fossil evidence to test these hypotheses. Possible association between rear molar eruption, full ME ossification and ME detachment in marsupials suggests functional divergence between dentary andMEas a trigger for developmental, and possibly also evolutionary, ME detachment. The stable positioning of the dentary and ME supports suggestions that a ‘partial mammalian middle ear’ as found in many mammaliaforms—probably with a cartilaginous Meckel’s cartilage—represents the only developmentally plausible evolutionary DMME precursor.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 13 Jan 2016|
- Middle ear bones