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August 9, 2020

Chewing muscles of an aye-aye and lemur

This image depicts the chewing muscles of an aye-aye (bottom) and a more typical lemur, a mongoose lemur (top). The image was created by Adam Hartstone-Rose and Edwin Dickinson of North Carolina State University and won the 2020 AAA BioArt category of the FASEB BioArt Scientific Image & Video Competition.

How this image was created
This image was created by "digitally dissecting" fascicles (bundles of muscle fibers) that were captured through a micro-CT scan after the specimens were stained with iodine to make their muscles radio-opaque in an X-ray based analysis. This new technique allows, for the first time, muscle fiber bundles to be visualized in 3D space, yielding new information about their lengths and orientations that allow researchers to better understand how they are adapted to specific functions. In this case, the muscles normally used for chewing in primates are also used by aye-ayes, along with their ever-growing incisors (unique among primates), for gouging into wood, an adaptive ability now more fully understood thanks to this methodological advance.

[Research supported by National Science Foundation grant IOS 1557125.]

Learn more about the research at the Hartstone-Rose Research Lab. (Date image taken: August 2019; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Aug. 9, 2020)

Credit: Adam Hartstone-Rose and Edwin Dickinson, North Carolina State University

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