The colugos, or flying lemurs (Dermoptera), are arboreal gliding mammals that are commonly grouped with tree-shrews (Scandentia) and Primates in the superorder Euarchonta. However, little is known about the head and neck muscles of these gliding mammals. This raises difficulties for the discussion of not only the functional morphology and evolution of colugos, but also the origin, evolution, functional morphology, and phylogenetic relationships of the Euarchonta as a whole, and thus also of our own clade, the Primates. In this work, I describe the head and neck muscles of the colugo Cynocephalus volans, and compare these muscles with those of other mammals, either dissected by me or described in the literature. My observations and comparisons indicate that, with respect to the number of muscles, the plesiomorphic condition for euarchontans as well as for primates is more similar to that found in extant tree-shrews than in extant colugos. This is because various muscles that were probably plesiomorphically present in the euarchontan and primate clades, as, e.g., the stylohyoideus, mandibulo-auricularis, cleido-occipitalis, omohyoideus, and sternohyoideus, are not present as independent elements in extant colugos. These observations and comparisons also indicate that various laryngeal and facial muscles that are present in modern humans were absent in the last common ancestor of extant primates.
2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.