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COMPARATIVE MUSCULAR ANATOMY LABORATORY

CHICKENS AND HUMANS

Purpose: Become familiar with major muscle anatomy using a chicken carcass as a hands-on-
example (and a human muscle mannequin if available) and diagrams of the musculature of
humans and chickens for comparative purposes. Encourage the students to locate these muscles
on their own chests, arms and legs and relate their function to their activities.

Fresh unfrozen broiler chicken carcasses: Obtain from a local grocery store. These will weigh
from 2.5 to 3.5 lb and should cost $2.00 to $4.00 each. Carcasses on the smaller end of this
range are cheaper and may be easier to dissect. One bird for every two students will work well.
Carcasses should be purchased only a day or two prior to the lab and kept refrigerated. Fresh
carcasses may be contaminated with Salmonella and/or Campylobacter which can cause diarrhea
if ingested without cooking. Therefore, hands should be kept away from the mouth during the
dissection and washed well with antibacterial soap immediately after. All surfaces or materials
contacted by parts or wet with juices from the chicken should either be disposed of appropriately
or washed thoroughly with antibacterial soap. Rubber gloves may also be provided.

Other materials need: Medium sized dissection scissors, rubber gloves (optional), antibacterial
soap, dissection trays, blunt probes, butcher paper or paper towels.

Set up: Unwrap the chicken carcass. Place it on it’s back on butcher paper or paper towels in a
dissection tray. Orient the tray so the bird’s drumsticks are pointing toward you in the posture of
the bird shown in diagram 1. Unlike the bird depicted in diagrams 1 and 3, your bird will have a
large opening in the abdominal area where the viscera and vent were removed. It will also have
no head, neck, shanks or feet and will have skin covering it, which will hide most of the muscles.
Use the diagrams specified in each section to locate the indicated muscles.

1. The chicken’s breast, your chest: Begin your dissection by removing the skin from the bird’s
breast. This easily done by slitting it along the midline with the scissors from the caudal tip of the
keel (protruding process of the sternum), beginning just cranial to the abdominal opening and
proceeding to the cranial end of the breast, where the neck was removed. Then peel off the skin
laterally with your fingers to the base of each wing and leg.
A. Pectoralis major: See diagrams 1 and 2. These are the large superficial breast
muscles of the bird which run from either side of the keel through the shoulder to the
humerus. They pull the wing ventrally, powering flight. In humans this is the muscle
used in the bench press.
B. Pectoralis minor: See diagrams 1 and 2. Make an incision through the P. major
(about 0.5 inches deep) along one side of the length of the keel. Reflect the cut end
of P. major laterally. The P minor is directly under it and runs in parallel to it. The P.
minor has a long tendon on it’s distal end that runs through the shoulder joint and
attaches to the dorsal side of the humerus. It lifts the wing dorsally, which is the
recovery stroke of the wing in flight. In humans this muscle pulls the shoulder down
and forward.

2. The chicken’s and your upper back: Place the bird on it’s breast with the base of it’s neck
pointing towards you. Remove the skin from the upper back by slitting along the backbone
caudally from the base of the neck to the middle of the back. Then peel off the skin laterally to the
base of each wing and around to the breast on each side. Cut the skin from the caudal end of the

They run from the spine into the wing or arm pit and attach to the caudal side of the humerus. mid-joint or flat. It extends (straightens) the wing or arm. 4. Deltoid: See diagrams 2. These muscles run perpendicular from the backbone to the shoulder of the bird and pull the shoulder back. This is the muscle on the center top of the shoulder of both the bird and the human. In humans this is the muscle used in doing reverse curls. B. The chickens first wing segment or drumette. This is the largest muscle on the (caudal) side of the lower wing away from the alula (the bird’s thumb). to the abdominal opening. It flexes the hand. The part running up the neck shrugs the shoulders while the part running across the back pulls the shoulder back. This is the muscle on the cranial side of the upper wing or arm in birds and humans. It runs from the elbow to the thumb side of the hand. Peel the skin completely off both sides of the wing down to the elbow. Peel the skin off around the thigh and then around and down the drumstick. The chickens second wing segment. Triceps humeralis: See diagrams 1. your upper arm: Place the bird on it’s back. A. . Slit the skin on the inside of the leg all the way from the abdominal opening to the hock (distal end of the drumstick). This is the largest muscle on the (cranial) side of the lower wing closest to the alula. B. Carefully slit skin on the ventral side of the wing from the “wing pit” to the elbow. In humans they are split in two parts. The chicken’s and your thigh: Place the bird on it’s back. In both species they pull the wing or arm caudally. It helps to raise the upper arm or wing. It runs from the back of the elbow to the side of the hand away from the thumb (the “pinky finger” side of the hand on humans). This muscle runs down the front edge of the thigh from the ilium (cranial edge of synsacrum or pelvis) to the knee in birds. Spread the legs apart. Latissimus dorsi: See diagrams 3 and 4. 3. 5. In humans this is the muscle used in doing curls. In humans this is a primary muscle used in doing wrist curls. A. The skin on the front half of the bird should now only be attached to the wings. In humans this is a primary muscle used in doing reverse wrist curls.incision to the middle of the back around each of the birds sides. Flexor carpi ulnaris: See diagrams 1. Biceps brachii: See diagrams 1 and 5. A. just in front of the legs. 3 and 4. This is the muscle on the caudal side of the upper wing or arm in birds and humans. 5 and 6. These muscles are directly caudal to the trapeziuses on the bird’s and the human’s back. Brachioradialis: See diagrams 1 and 5. Carefully slit the skin on the ventral side of the wing from the elbow to the wrist. It flexes the thigh and allows crossing of the legs. 3 and 7. A. C. Extend the wing. It runs across the front of the thigh in humans. Peel the skin off the ventral side of the lower wing down to the wrist. Trapezius: See diagrams 3 and 4. Extend the wing. It flexes (bends) the wing or arm. It pulls the hand back. Sartorius: See diagrams 1. 3 and 6. B. your forearm: Place the bird on it’s back.

This is the muscle group used in doing leg extensions in humans. comments. your calf: Directions for removing the skin in #4 above. 3 and 7. B. 7 and 8. 5. 3 and 8. D. It flexes the leg. This muscle group covers the whole lateral side of the thigh in birds. Along with the semimembranosus and semitendinosus it makes up the hamstring group which are the primary upper leg muscle powering running. It extends the foot C. It extends the thigh and flexes the leg. This muscle lies just medial to the caudal section of the iliotibialis in the bird. intermedius and medialis. B. It is smaller and runs up the lateral side of the lower leg in humans. Both of these heads are attached to the Achilles tendon that runs around the hock in birds or to the heel in humans. 3 and 8. It is the primary lower leg muscle used in standing on your toes. and Rectus femoris (humans): See diagrams 1 and 7. Biceps femoris: See diagrams 1. suggestions and corrections to Roger Lien of Auburn University’s Poultry Science Department who can be reached at rlien@acesag. It extends the thigh. This muscle lies on the inside of the thigh just caudal to the sartorius in the bird. Quadriceps femoris (birds) or Vastus lateralis. This is the primary superficial muscle on the lateral side of the drumstick in birds. Gluteus maximus and Iliotibial tract (humans): See diagrams 3. E. In humans it run along the lateral side of the shin bone (tibia) on the very front of the lower leg. In humans it is generally specified as it’s three parts and runs from the dorsal and lateral sides of the pelvis to the lateral side of the knee. Semimembranosus: See diagrams 1 and 8. 3. The chicken’s drumstick. This is the muscle that causes pain in the disorder known as “shin splints”. It flexes the foot. This muscle is just anterior and medial to the semimebranosus on the inside of the thigh. 7 and 8. It extends the foot and flexes the lower leg. A. Tibialis anterior: See diagrams 1 and 7. This muscle is larger than and directly under the Peroneus longus in birds. F. It flexes the thigh and extends the lower leg. Semitendinosus: See diagrams 1. This is the muscle used in doing leg curls in humans. It has two distinct heads in both birds and humans. generally known as the “quadriceps”. C. This is the primary muscle of the dorsal (or posterior) and medial sides of the drumstick. Peroneus longus: See diagrams 1. Iliotibialis (birds) or Tensor fasciae latae. Gastrocnemius: See diagrams 1. which make up the bulk of the front of the thigh in humans.auburn.edu or 334- 844-2609 . It extends the thigh. This muscle is just caudal and medial to the Biceps femoris and defines the caudal edge of the thigh in the bird. It is a group of four muscles. Please address questions.