Friday, 5 September 2014

Dissection of the hindlimb of monitor lizards: V. varius and V. komodoensis, Part 1 of 4, Superficial Dorsal aspect.

One of the major questions I am trying to determine in my research is how muscle and bone strains change with body size and habitat among Australia’s giant lizards the Varanids (aka monitor lizards aka goannas aka large uncooperative lizards).

When I first attempted to dissect the hindlimb muscle of monitor lizards I was amazed about how little information there was on the topic. In the end the two most helpful bits of literature was the Snyder paper from 1954, and the book chapter, The Appendicular locomotor apparatus of Lepidosaurs, by Russell and Bauer, (2008), in Biology of the Reptilia, Vol 21. 
Luckily I had a visit from muscle expert Taylor Dick, from Simon Fraser University Canada, and we were able to dissect some big lizards. 
As a guide to help anyone else who might also be silly enough to want to follow along this line of inquiry we have made a guide below to help you identify some of the major muscles in the lizard hindlimb. 

There will be 4 posts in total, this post will focus on the dorsal superficial aspect of the upper and lower hindlimb. 

Varanus varius: This specimen was freshly sacrificed, and the muscles are very clear and easily defined. Click on the video below for a walk through.  


Varanus komodoensis:  Dissection of the Komodo dragon. This specimen had been frozen for 7 years, so the separation of the muscles is a little bit more difficult. Click on the video below for a walk through.

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