Distribution of hypoglossal motor neurons innervating the prehensile tongue of the African pig-nosed frog, Hemisus marmoratum

Curtis W. Anderson, Kiisa C Nishikawa, Joyce Keifer

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Using retrograde neuronal tracers, a study of the distribution of hypoglossal motor neurons innervating the tongue musculature was performed in the African pig-nosed frog, Hemisus marmoratum. This species is a radically divergent anuran amphibian with a prehensile tongue that can be aimed in three dimensions relative to the head. The results illustrate a unique rostrocaudal distribution of the ventrolateral hypoglossal nucleus and an unusually large number of motor neurons within this cell group. During the evolution of the long, prehensile tongue of Hemisus, the motor neurons innervating the tongue have greatly increased in number and have become more caudally distributed in the brainstem and spinal cord compared to other anurans. These observations have implications for understanding neuronal reconfiguring of motoneurons for novel morphologies requiring new muscle activation patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-8
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 6 1998
Externally publishedYes



  • Anuran amphibian
  • Hypoglossal nerve
  • Motor nuclei
  • Tongue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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