The semifossorial function of the forelimb in the common rice tenrec (Oryzorictes hova) and the streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes hemispinosus)

Anat Histol Embryol. 2007 Dec;36(6):413-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0264.2007.00792.x.


The forelimb muscles of the two semifossorial species of Tenrecidae (Oryzoryctinae: common rice tenrec; and Tenrecinae: streaked tenrec) were compared macroscopically with those of the unspecialized terrestrial-arboreal species, the Talazac long-tailed tenrec. The structure of the hand was also observed using three-dimensional reconstructed images from computed tomography data. The two semifossorial species had similar muscle weight ratios in the lateral and long heads of M. triceps brachii and M. teres major. A similar hand skeleton structure (in which the second, third and fourth metacarpals and phalanges act as a digging apparatus) was observed in both species. Our observations confirm that both these species have muscular-skeletal adaptations supporting fossorial locomotion. As each species belongs to a monophyletic subfamily within the Tenrecidae isolated in Madagascar, such semifossorial adaptations are assumed to have evolved convergently.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Eulipotyphla / anatomy & histology*
  • Eulipotyphla / physiology*
  • Forelimb / anatomy & histology
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Species Specificity