Anatomical Science International

, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 295–306 | Cite as

Two mammalian species in which the intercostal nerves innervate the serratus anterior or scalenus muscles together with the cervical nerves: an important clue to clarify the homology of cervico-thoracic trunk muscles in mammals

  • Masahiro KoizumiEmail author
Original Article


The levator scapulae, rhomboideus, and serratus anterior muscles (as a group referred to the dorsal shoulder girdle muscles) and the scalenus muscles in mammals are usually innervated by cervical nerves. However, in koalas, the serratus anterior is additionally innervated by the lateral cutaneous branch of the first intercostal nerve. In cats, as in some other mammalian species, a part of the scalenus muscle (scalenus longus muscle) is innervated by the lateral cutaneous branches of the intercostal nerves. A precise comparison of the innervating nerves at the same segment in these two cases could clarify the homological relationship between the cervical and thoracic trunk muscles. In this context, the aim of this study was to follow the nerve fibers included in the nerves supplying the dorsal shoulder girdle and scalenus muscles up to the level of the spinal nerve roots in two koalas and two cats. The resultant observations revealed that both of the nerves to the serratus anterior in koalas and to the scalenus muscles in cats from the lateral cutaneous branch of the intercostal nerve occupy the same position in the spinal roots as the cervical nerve branches to the dorsal shoulder girdle muscles and the thoracic nerve branches to the external intercostal muscle. Based on these results, the axial trunk muscles in the cervico-thoracic region could be classified as follows: the scalenus and dorsal shoulder girdle muscles belong to the same lateral axial trunk muscle group as the external intercostal muscle, and are clearly distinguished from the medial group, such as the internal and innermost intercostal muscle.


Cat Comparative anatomy Koala Shoulder girdle muscles Trunk muscles 



The author specially thanks Dr. M. Yamasaki, formerly of the Department of Anatomy, Akita University, for providing a koala specimen, which was originally from Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Anatomists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health SciencesTokyoJapan

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