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J Anat. 2006 Mar;208(3):263-85.

Homology of the reptilian coracoid and a reappraisal of the evolution and development of the amniote pectoral apparatus.

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Dalhousie University, Department of Biology, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


As in monotreme mammals, the pectoral apparatus of basal (fossil) amniotes includes two coracoid elements, the procoracoid and metacoracoid. Among extant reptiles the metacoracoid has long been assumed lost; this notion is herein challenged. A comprehensive review of data from numerous sources, including the fossil record, experimental embryology, genetic manipulations and an analysis of morphology at the level cell condensations, supports the conclusion that the metacoracoid gives rise to the majority of the reptilian coracoid. By contrast, the reptilian procoracoid remains as a rudiment that is incorporated as a process of the (meta)coracoid and/or the glenoid region of the scapula early during development, prior to skeletogenesis. Application of this integrated approach corroborates and enhances previous work describing the evolution of the pectoral apparatus in mammals. A revised scenario of amniote coracoid evolution is presented emphasizing the importance of considering cell condensations when evaluating the homology of a skeletal complex.

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