Guineafowl hind limb function. II: Electromyographic analysis and motor pattern evolution

J Morphol. 1999 May;240(2):127-142. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4687(199905)240:2<127::AID-JMOR4>3.0.CO;2-Q.


The neuromuscular control of the hind limb of helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) locomoting on a treadmill at 1.0 m/sec was analyzed using simultaneous electromyography (EMG) and cineradiography. Activity from 16 heads representing 14 hip and knee muscles was recorded and correlated with limb movement and myological data to help discern muscle function. The first half of the stance phase is characterized by activity in many hip extensors, which counteract a flexor moment of the ground reaction force to yield hip stability. Simultaneously, medial rotators of the femur mediate pelvic roll and coactive antagonists about the knee control knee flexion of ca. 60°. Later in stance, hip extensors pull the hip through an arc of ca. 25°; knee extension occurs in some strides. N. meleagris hind limb motor patterns were compared to those of their homologs in representative lizards and crocodilians. Using a cladogram of living saurians, motor patterns were reconstructed in hypothetical ancestors. Although data are limited, lizards appear to have very conservative muscle activity similar to that of the ancestral saurian. The extant crocodilian Alligator mississippiensis resembles the reconstructed ancestor of Archosauria in at least 9 of 11 hind limb motor patterns. In contrast, N. meleagris differs from this same ancestor in at least four muscles. Most novelties in extant saurian motor patterns arose on the line to living birds. J. Morphol. 240:127-142, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Keywords: Archosauria; Aves; Locomotion; bipedalism; electromyography; motor pattern.