On the origin of skilled forelimb movements

Trends Neurosci. 2000 Aug;23(8):372-6. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(00)01618-0.


Homologizing behaviour was once considered unreliable, but the application of modern comparative methods has been shown to provide strong evidence of behavioural homologies. Skilled forelimb movements were thought to originate in the primate lineage but in fact are common among tetrapod taxa and probably share a common origin in early tetrapods. Furthermore, skilled movements are likely to have been derived from, and elaborated through, food-handling behaviour. In addition, it is now thought that the role played by the lateral and medial descending pathways of the spinal cord in the execution of skilled forelimb movements could be synergistic, rather than the exclusive responsibility of an individual pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*