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J Anat. 2009 Jan;214(1):100-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2008.01006.x.

Pelvic and thigh musculature in frogs (Anura) and origin of anuran jumping locomotion.

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Department of Paleobiology, Geological Institute, Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.


Comparative analysis of the anuran pelvic and thigh musculoskeletal system revealed that the thigh extensors, responsible for the initial phase of jump, the propulsive stroke in swimming and, if used asynchronously, also for walking, are least affected by the transformations observed between anurans and their temnospondyl ancestors (as reflected in contemporary caudates). The iliac shaft and urostyle, two of the most important anuran apomorphies, represent skeletal support for muscles that are mostly protractors of the femur or are important in attaining a crouching position, a necessary prerequisite for rapid escape. All of these muscles originate or insert on the iliac shaft. As the orientation of the pubis, ischium and ilium is the same in anurans, caudates and by inference also in their temnospondyl ancestors, it is probable that the pelvis was shifted from the sacral vertebra posteriorly along the reduced and stiffened tail (urostyle) by the elongation of the illiac shaft. Thus, the original vertical orientation of the ilium was maintained (which is also demonstrated by stable origins of the glutaeus maximus, iliofemoralis and iliofibularis on the tuber superius) and the shaft itself is a new structure. A review of functional analysis of anuran locomotion suggests some clear differences from that in caudates, suggesting that terrestrial jumping may have been a primary locomotor activity, from which other types of anuran locomotion are derived.

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