An interactive three dimensional approach to anatomical description-the jaw musculature of the Australian laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

PeerJ. 2014 May 1;2:e355. doi: 10.7717/peerj.355. eCollection 2014.


The investigation of form-function relationships requires a detailed understanding of anatomical systems. Here we document the 3-dimensional morphology of the cranial musculoskeletal anatomy in the Australian Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae, with a focus upon the geometry and attachments of the jaw muscles in this species. The head of a deceased specimen was CT scanned, and an accurate 3D representation of the skull and jaw muscles was generated through manual segmentation of the CT scan images, and augmented by dissection of the specimen. We identified 14 major jaw muscles: 6 in the temporal group (M. adductor mandibulae and M. pseudotemporalis), 7 in the pterygoid group (M. pterygoideus dorsalis and M. pterygoideus ventralis), and the single jaw abductor M. depressor mandibulae. Previous descriptions of avian jaw musculature are hindered by limited visual representation and inconsistency in the nomenclature. To address these issues, we: (1) present the 3D model produced from the segmentation process as a digital, fully interactive model in the form of an embedded 3D image, which can be viewed from any angle, and within which major components can be set as opaque, transparent, or hidden, allowing the anatomy to be visualised as required to provide a detailed understanding of the jaw anatomy; (2) provide a summary of the nomenclature used throughout the avian jaw muscle literature. The approach presented here provides considerable advantages for the documentation and communication of detailed anatomical structures in a wide range of taxa.

Keywords: 3D PDF; Anatomy; Avian; Cranial musculoskeleton; Jaw musculature; Kingfisher; Segmentation; Visualisation.

Grant support

This project was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project (grant number DP0986471) to CRM and through Monash University internal funding to CRM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.