To elucidate role of the dermomyotome in the formation of the axial skeleton, we performed extirpation and transplantation experiments on the dermomyotomes in chick and quail embryos. When the thoracic dermomyotomes of chick embryos were removed, the intercostal muscles and the distal ribs were deficient, while the proximal ribs were more or less normal. Quail tissues including the dermomyotome, the ectoderm and the medial edge of lateral plate, were transplanted to replace chick dermomyotomes. In these chimeras, the ribs, which would be deficient without the back-transplantation, were recovered. The cells of the recovered part of the ribs as well as the intercostal muscles were derived from the quail transplants. These findings suggest that the distal rib originated from the dermomyotomes and not the sclerotome as previously believed. To localize the origin of the distal rib further, we removed restricted regions of the dermomyotomes along the mediolateral and the rostrocaudal axis. The more lateral the part of the dermomyotomes that we removed, the more distal the part of the ribs affected. On the contrary, when the rostral and caudal edges of the dermomyotomes were removed, only the vertebral ribs showed extensive deficiencies while removal of the middle part between the edges caused less deficiency. The sternal ribs were not deficient in either case, but were extensively affected when the entire lateral edge of dermomyotomes was included in the region removed. We conclude that the lateral edges of the dermomyotomes are the primordia of the sternal ribs, and the rostral and/or caudal edges of the medial part of dermomyotomes are the primordia of the distal part and not of the proximal part of the vertebral ribs.

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