Number and arrangement of extraocular muscles in primitive gnathostomes: evidence from extinct placoderm fishes

Gavin C Young
Biology Letters 2008 February 23, 4 (1): 110-4
Exceptional braincase preservation in some Devonian placoderm fishes permits interpretation of muscles and cranial nerves controlling eye movement. Placoderms are the only jawed vertebrates with anterior/posterior obliques as in the jawless lamprey, but with the same function as the superior/inferior obliques of other gnathostomes. Evidence of up to seven extraocular muscles suggests that this may be the primitive number for jawed vertebrates. Two muscles innervated by cranial nerve 6 suggest homologies with lampreys and tetrapods. If the extra muscle acquired by gnathostomes was the internal rectus, Devonian fossils show that it had a similar insertion above and behind the eyestalk in both placoderms and basal osteichthyans.

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