The adaptational strategies of the hindlimb muscles in the Tenrecidae species including the aquatic web-footed tenrec (Limnogale mergulus)

Ann Anat. 2006 Jul;188(4):383-90. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2005.12.005.


The hindlimb muscles in four species of Tenrecidae (Oryzoryctinae: Talazac long-tailed tenrec and web-footed tenrec, Tenrecinae: lesser hedgehog tenrec, and streaked tenrec), were examined macroscopically. The weight ratios of the muscles to the body in the oryzoryctinid species are larger than those in Tenrecinae, since the Oryzoryctinae species have an obviously smaller body from the evolutionary point of view. It can be primarily pointed out that the adaptation of the body size is different between the two subfamilies, and secondarily, that functional adaptation to locomotion is complete within each subfamily. The weight data and the morphological findings demonstrate that the web-footed tenrec possesses an extraordinary large M. semimembranosus in comparison to the Talazac long-tailed tenrec in their weight ratios. This muscle may act as a strong flexor motor in the knee joint during the aquatic locomotion of the web-footed tenrec. Since the other muscles of the web-footed tenrec are similar to those of the Talazac long-tailed tenrec regards weight ratio data, we think that the web-footed tenrec may have derived from a terrestrial ancestor such as the long-tailed tenrecs. In Tenrecinae the streaked tenrec is equipped with larger Mm. adductores, M. semimembranosus and M. triceps surae than the lesser hedgehog tenrec. This species is adapted to fossorial life derived from non-specialized ancestors within the evolutionary lines of the spiny tenrecs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Environment
  • Eulipotyphla / anatomy & histology
  • Eulipotyphla / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / anatomy & histology
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Organ Size
  • Water


  • Water