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Comparative Anatomy

Shown below are images of the skeletal structure of the front limbs of 6 animals: human, crocodile, whale, cat, bird, and bat. Each animal has a similar set of bones. Color code each of the bones according to this key:

Humerus [ ]
Ulna [ ]
Radius [ ]

Carpals [ ]
Metacarpals [ ]
Phalanges [ ]

For each animal, indicate what type of movement each limb is responsible for.


Primary Functions


Using tools, picking up and holding objects






Compare the skeletal structure of each limb to the human arm. Relate the differences you see in form to the differences in function.


Comparison to Human Arm in Form

Comparison to Human Arm in Function


Whale has a much shorter and thicker humerus, radius, and ulna. Much longer metacarpals. Thumb has been shortened to a stub.

The whale fin needs to be longer to help in movement through water. Thumbs are not necessary as the fins are not used for grasping.





Homologous vs. Analagous Structures
You have now studied two different types of anatomical structures:

  • Homologous structures: closely related in _________________________, but have different _________________________________. Seen in animals that are closely ______________________.

  • Analogous structures have very different ___________________________, but similar ________________________. Seen in animals that do not have a common _________________________, but need similar ________________________________

Determine whether the following sets of structures are homologous or analogous based on your findings in today’s activities:

  1. Human arm and crocodile arm ____________________________________

  2. Bird wing and bat wing ___________________________________________

  3. Human arm and whale fin _________________________________________

  4. Cat limb and whale fin _____________________________________________

Compare the anatomy of the butterfly and bird wing below.

1. What is the function of each of these structures?

2. How are they different in form? Give specific differences.

3. Are butterfly wings and bird wings homologous or analogous structures? Why?

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