Homologies of the stapedial artery in humans, with a reconstruction of the primitive stapedial artery configuration of Euprimates

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1991 Apr;84(4):433-62. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330840408.


Data drawn from the perspectives of paleontology, comparative anatomy, embryology, teratology, and normal adult variation were analyzed with nine homology criteria in order to determine the homologues of the stapedial artery in adult humans. It was determined that 1) the stem of the stapedial artery does not persist within the cranial cavity; 2) the stem of the ramus inferior is retained in its entirety and forms the upper portion of the stem of the middle meningeal artery; 3) the proximal part of the ramus infraorbitalis is normally absent and is replaced by a collateral shunt arising from the ramus mandibularis; 4) the ramus mandibularis is retained and forms the lower portion of the middle meningeal stem and the inferior alveolar artery; 5) the most proximal portion of the maxillary artery is formed by an anastomotic shunt connecting the external carotid artery to the ramus mandibularis; 6) the anterior division of the ramus superior is normally present and well developed; 7) the posterior division of the ramus superior is present in many individuals; and 8) the junction of the two divisions of the ramus superior with the ramus inferior usually migrates to the floor of the middle cranial fossa. The range of human arterial patterns, and those of all other euprimates, can be derived from a hypothetical primitive pattern that is very similar to that of primitive rodents. In this pattern, the stapedial artery stem enters the middle cranial fossa and trifurcates into the anterior and posterior divisions of the ramus superior and the ramus inferior. In their evolution, strepsirhines initially lose the ramus inferior and haplorhines initially reduce the stapedial artery stem.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries
  • Ear, Middle / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Orbit / blood supply*
  • Primates / anatomy & histology*
  • Stapes / blood supply*
  • Temporal Bone / blood supply*