ways). Thus it has come to pass that the muscles of the hind limbs are, like their framework, more easily compared with those of reptiles and mammals than are the wings, whilst within the class of birds they show an enormous amount of variation in direct correlation with their manifold requirements. The only really aberrant modifications of the wing-muscles are found in the Ratitae, where they are, however, all easily explained by reduction, and in the penguins, where the wings are greatly specialized into blades for rowing with screw-like motions.
The wing of the bird is folded in a unique way, namely, the radius parallel with the humerus, and the whole wrist and hand with their ulnar side against the ulna; upper and forearm in a state of supination, the hand in that of strong abduction. Dorsal and ventral bending, even in the extended wing, is almost impossible. Consequently only a few of the original extensor muscles have been preserved, but these are much modified into very independent organs, notably the extensor metacarpi radialis longus, the ext. metac. ulnaris and the two radio- and ulnari-metacarpi muscles, all of which are inserted upon the metacarpus by means of long tendons. The chief muscular mass, arising from the sternum in the shape of a U, is the pectoralis muscle; its fibres converge into a strong tendon, which is inserted upon the greater tubercle and upper crest of the humerus, which it depresses and slightly rotates forwards during the downstroke. This great muscle covers completely the supracoracoideus, generally described as the second pectoral, or subclavius muscle, in reality homologous with the mammalian supraspinatus muscle. This arises mostly from the angle formed by the keel with the body of the sternum, passes by a strong tendon through the foramen triosseum, and is inserted upon the upper tubercle of the humeral crest, which it rotates and abducts. The extent of the origin of this muscle from the sternum, on which it leaves converging, parallel or diverging impressions, is of some taxonomic value.
|From Newton’s Dictionary of Birds, by permission of A. & C. Black.|
Fig. 14.—Wing muscles of a Goose. Bi, Biceps; Elast. sec., elastic vinculum and Exp.sec., expansor secundariorum; Pt.br and Pt.lg, short and long propatagial muscles; Tri, triceps.
Much labour has been bestowed by A. H. Garrod and Max Fürbringer upon the investigation of the variations of the inserting tendons of the patagial muscles (fig. 14), mainly from a taxonomic point of view. The propatagialis longus muscle is composed of slips from the deltoid, pectoral, biceps and cucullaris muscles. Its strong belly originates near the shoulder joint from clavicle, coracoid and scapula. Its elastic tendon runs directly to the carpus, forming thereby the outer margin of the anterior patagium, or fold of skin between the upper and forearm, which it serves to extend, together with the propatagialis brevis muscle. This runs down the anterior and outer side of the upper arm, and is attached to the proximal tendon of the extensor metacarpi radialis longus, a little below the outer condyle of the humerus. In most birds the tendon is split into several portions, one of which is often attached to the outer side of the ulna, below the elbow joint, while others are in variable but characteristic ways connected with similar slips of the propatagialis longus. The posterior patagium, the fold between trunk and inner surface of the upper arm, is stretched by the metapatagialis muscle, which is composed of slips from the serratus, superficialis, latissimus dorsi and the expansor secundariorum muscles. This, the stretcher of the cubital quills, is a very interesting muscle. Arising as a long tendon from the sterno-scapular ligament, it passes the axilla by means of a fibrous pulley, accompanies the axillary vessels and nerves along the humerus, and is inserted by a few fleshy fibres on the base of the last two or three cubital quills. Here, alone, at the distal portion of the tendon, occur muscular fibres, but these are unstriped, belonging to the category of cutaneous muscles. We have here the interesting fact that a muscle (portion of the triceps humeri of the reptiles) has been reduced to a tendon, which in a secondary way has become connected with cutaneous muscles, which, when strongly developed, represent its belly.
The flexor digitorum sublimis muscle arises fleshy from the long elastic band which extends from the inner humeral condyle along the ventral surface of the ulna to the ulnar carpal bone, over which the tendon runs to insert itself on the radial anterior side of the first phalanx of the second digit. Owing to the elasticity of the humerocarpal band the wing remains closed without any special muscular exertion, while, when the wing is extended, this band assists in keeping it taut. The arm-muscles have been studied in an absolutely exhaustive manner by Fürbringer, who in his monumental work has tabulated and then scrutinized the chief characters of fourteen selected muscles. The results are as interesting from a morphological point of view (showing the subtle and gradual modifications of these organs in their various adaptations), as they are sparse in taxonomic value, far less satisfactory than are those of the hind-limb. He was, however, the first to show clearly that the Ratitae are the retrograde descendants of flying ancestors, that the various groups of surviving Ratitae are, as such, a polyphyletic group, and he has gone fully into the interesting question of the development and subsequent loss of the power of flight, a loss which has taken place not only in different orders of birds but also at various geological periods, and is still taking place. Very important are also the investigations which show how, for instance in such fundamentally different groups as petrels and gulls, similar bionomic conditions have produced step by step a marvellously close convergence, not only in general appearance, but even in many details of structure.
Of the muscles of the hind-limbs likewise only a few can be mentioned. The ambiens muscle, long and spindle-shaped, lying immediately beneath the skin, extending from the pectineal process or ilio-pubic spine to the knee, is the most median of the muscles of the thigh. When typically developed its long tendon passes the knee-joint, turning towards its outer side, and lastly, without being anywhere attached to the knee, it forms one of the heads of the flexor perforatus digit, ii. or iii. One of the functions of this peculiar muscle (which is similarly developed in crocodiles, but absent, or not differentiated from the ilio-tibial and ilio-femoral mass, in other vertebrates) is that its contraction helps to close the second and third toes. Too much has been made of this feature since Sir R. Owen (Cyclop. Anat. Phys. i. p. 296, 1835), following G. A. Borelli (De motu animalium, Rome, 1680), explained that birds are enabled to grasp the twig on which they rest whilst sleeping, without having to make any muscular exertion, because the weight of the body bends the knee and ankle-joints, over both of which pass the tendons of this compound muscle. There are many perching birds, e.g. all the Passeres, which do not possess this muscle at all, whilst many of those which have it fully developed, e.g. Anseres, can hardly be said to “perch.”
Garrod went so far as to divide all the birds into Homalogonatae and Anomalogonatae, according to the presence or absence of the ambiens muscle. This resulted in a failure. To appreciate this, it is sufficient to enumerate the birds without the critical muscle: Passeriformes and Coraciiformes, without exception; Ardeae and Podiceps; lastly various genera of storks, pigeons, parrots, petrels and auks. The loss has taken place, and still takes place, independently in widely different groups. It follows, first, that the absence of this muscle does not always indicate relationship; secondly that we can derive birds that are without it from a group which still possess it, but not vice versa. The absence of the ambiens muscle in all owls, which apparently use their feet in the same way as the Accipitres (all of which possess it), indicates that owls are not developed from the latter, but from a group which, like the other Coraciiformes, had already lost their muscle.
Garrod further attributed much taxonomic value to the caudilio-femoralis muscle (fig. 15). This, when fully developed, consists of two parts, but inserted by a single ribbon-like tendon upon the hinder surface of the femur, near the end of its first third; the caudal part, femoro-caudalis, expressed by Garrod by the symbol A, arises from transverse processes of the tail; the iliac part (accessoro-femoro-caudal of Garrod, with the symbol B), arises mostly from the outer surface of the postacetabular ilium. Of course this double-headed condition is the more primitive, and as such exists in most nidifugous birds, but in many of these, as well as in many nidicolous birds, either the caudal or the iliac head is absent, and in a very few (Cancroma, Dicholophus, Steatornis and some Cathartes) the whole muscle is absent. The caud-ilio flexorius (semitendinosus of most authors) arises from the transverse processes of the tail, and from the distal half of the postacetabular ilium, thence passing as a broad ribbon to the popliteal region, where it splits into two portions. One of these, broad and fleshy, is inserted upon the posterior surface of the distal third of the femur. This portion, morphologically the original, was named the “accessory semitendinosus” with the symbol Y; the other portion descends on the hinder aspect of the leg and joins the fascia of the inner femoral head of the gastrocnemius muscle. In many birds the insertion is shifted from the femur to the neck of the tibia, in which case the “accessory head” is said to be absent, a condition expressed by Garrod by the symbol X. By combining the four symbols A, B, X, Y, according to their presence or absence, Garrod got a considerable number of formulae, each of which was overruled, so to speak, by the two categories of the presence or absence of the ambiens muscle. It needs hardly to be pointed out why such a purely mechanical scheme was doomed to