EMG of the digastric muscle in gibbon and orangutan: functional consequences of the loss of the anterior digastric in orangutans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Unlike all other primates, the digastric muscle of the orangutan lacks an anterior belly; the posterior belly, while present, inserts directly onto the mandible. To understand the functional consequences of this morphologic novelty, the EMG activity patterns of the digastric muscle and other potential mandibular depressors were studied in a gibbon and an orangutan. The results suggest a significant degree of functional differentiation between the two digastric bellies. In the gibbon, the recruitment pattern of the posterior digastric during mastication is typically biphasic. It is an important mandibular depressor, active in this role during mastication and wide opening. It also acts with the anterior suprahyoid muscles to move the hyoid prior to jaw opening during mastication. The recruitment patterns of the anterior digastric suggest that it is functionally allied to the geniohyoid and mylohyoid. For example, although it transmits the force of the posterior digastric during mandibular depression, it functions independent of the posterior digastric during swallowing. Of the muscles studied, the posterior digastric was the only muscle to exhibit major differences in recruitment pattern between the two species. The posterior digastric retains its function as a mandibular depressor in orangutans, but is never recruited biphasically, and is not active prior to opening. The unique anatomy of the digastric muscle in orangutans results in decoupling of the mechanisms for hyoid movement and mandibular depression, and during unilateral activity it potentially contributes to substantial transverse movements of the mandible. Hypotheses to explain the loss of the anterior digastric should incorporate these functional conclusions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wall, CE; Larson, SG; Stern, JT

Published Date

  • August 1994

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 94 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 549 - 567

PubMed ID

  • 7977679

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-8644

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-9483

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ajpa.1330940408


  • eng