Shaping muscle bioarchitecture for the fin to limb transition

Nicholas J. Cole, Peter Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


Our recent paper examined how pelvic fins and their musculature form developmentally and how these mechanisms have evolved within the vertebrate lineage, a process fundamental to the tetrapod transition. The transition from the water onto the land is among one of the most well studied steps in the evolutionary history of vertebrates, yet the genetic basis of this evolutionary transition is little studied and ill-defined. The advent of these terrestrial species resulted in a shift in locomotor strategies from the rhythmic undulating muscles of the fish body to a reliance upon powerful weight bearing muscles of the limbs to generate movement. We demonstrated that the pelvic fin muscles of bony fish are generated by a mechanism that has features of both of limb/fin muscle formation in tetrapods and primitive cartilaginous fish. We hypothesize that the adoption of the fully derived mode of hindlimb muscle formation, was a further modification of the mode of development deployed to generate pelvic fin muscles, a shift in overall muscle bioarchitecture we believe was critical to the success of the tetrapod transition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • muscle
  • evolution
  • fin
  • limb
  • zebrafish
  • tetrapod

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