Media ReleaseFrom: The Royal Society
Pectoral girdle and forelimb musculoskeletal function in the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus): insights into mammalian locomotor evolution
Modern mammals can use their forelimbs to run, climb, dig, and swim. This remarkable diversity is underpinned by a dramatic transformation of the underlying skeleton over hundreds of millions of years. The egg-laying monotreme mammals can give us important insights into forelimb evolution as they retain many features reminiscent of our ancient ancestors. Here, we use a computer model of the echidna forelimb to quantify musculoskeletal function and show that the echidna’s anatomy limits some types of forelimb movement whilst also optimizing muscle leverage for its unique sprawling gait.