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J Morphol. 2001 Dec;250(3):265-80.

Comparative analysis of fiber-type composition in the iliofibularis muscle of phrynosomatid lizards (Squamata).

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Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The lizard family Phrynosomatidae comprises three subclades: the closely related sand and horned lizards, and their relatives the Sceloporus group. This family exhibits great variation in ecology, behavior, and general body plan. Previous studies also show that this family exhibits great diversity in locomotor performance abilities; as measured on a high-speed treadmill, sand lizards are exceptionally fast sprinters, members of the Sceloporus group are intermediate, and horned lizards are slowest. These differences are paralleled by differences in relative hindlimb span. To determine if muscle fiber-type composition also varies among the three subclades, we examined the iliofibularis (IF), a hindlimb muscle used in lizard locomotion, in 11 species of phrynosomatid lizards. Using histochemical assays for myosin ATPase, an indicator of fast-twitch capacity, and succinic dehydrogenase, denoting oxidative capacity, we classified fiber types into three categories based on existing nomenclature: fast-twitch glycolytic (FG), fast-twitch oxidative-glycolytic (FOG), and slow-twitch oxidative (SO). Sand lizards have a high proportion of FG fibers (64-70%) and a low proportion of FOG fibers (25-33%), horned lizards are the converse (FG fibers 25-31%, FOG fibers 56-66%), and members of the Sceloporus group are intermediate for both FG (41-48%) and FOG (42-45%) content. Hence, across all 11 species %FOG and %FG are strongly negatively correlated. Analysis with phylogenetically independent contrasts indicate that this negative relationship is entirely attributable to the divergence between sand and horned lizards. The %SO also varies among the three subclades. Results from conventional nested ANCOVA (with log body mass as a covariate) indicate that the log mean cross-sectional area of individual muscle fibers differs among species and is positively correlated with body mass across species, but does not differ significantly among subclades. The log cross-sectional area of the IF varies among species, but does not vary among subclades. Conversely, the total thigh muscle cross-sectional area does not vary among species, but does vary among subclades; horned lizards have slimmer thighs. Muscle fiber-type composition appears to form part of a coadapted suite of traits, along with relative limb and muscle sizes, that affect the locomotor abilities of phrynosomatid lizards.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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