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Somitic muscles of the head


There are two groups of somitic muscles in the head, those muscles that arise from somites anterior to the developing ear, the pre-otic somites, and those muscles that develop from somites at the junction of the head and neck, the occipital somites. The three pre-otic somites migrate to a position around the developing eyeball with their distinct ventral cranial nerve. They develop to form the skeletal muscles that move the eye and upper eyelid. The myotomes from the occipital somites migrate to a position in the floor of the developing oral cavity to form the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the tongue. Ventral rootlets of nerves emerging from the medulla of the brainstem migrate to the muscle cells of the developing tongue to form the single cranial nerve to the tongue muscles. All the somitic muscles of the head receive their nerve supply from purely motor ventral cranial nerves.


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