Innervation of propatagial musculature in a flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans (Rodentia, Sciuridae)

Brain Behav Evol. 1996;47(1):1-7. doi: 10.1159/000113224.


The propatagium of gliding and flying mammals is of both functional and phylogenetic interest. The innervation of the propatagial muscle, platysma II, was studied with the axonal tracer wheat germ agglutinin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) in a flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans. Injections of WGA-HRP into the proximal third of platysma II labeled motoneurons in the lateral part of the medial subdivision of the ipsilateral facial nucleus and in the ipsilateral ventral horn of the brachial enlargement. Injections into distal regions of platysma II labeled motoneurons in the ipsilateral ventral horn of spinal segments C5-C8 but not in the facial nucleus. Injections along the whole length of the muscle labeled afferent axons in the ipsilateral dorsal horn of spinal segments C4-T1. These results demonstrate a mixed facial and spinal motor innervation of propatagial musculature in the flying squirrel and indicate that this pattern of mixed innervation is more widespread among flying and gliding mammals than previously reported. Mixed facial and cervical propatagial innervation, independently derived in different flying and gliding mammals, may represent a common solution in the design of the propatagium. These findings complicate the use of propatagial muscle innervation patterns for the establishment of phylogenetic relationships among flying and gliding mammals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Facial Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Forelimb / innervation*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sciuridae / anatomy & histology*