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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus I: Muscular System: Alphabetical Listing of Muscles: O: Occipitalis Minor (Transversus Nuchae) (of Santorini)

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus I: Muscular System: Alphabetical Listing of Muscles: O

Occipitalis Minor (Transversus Nuchae) (of Santorini)

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

This small muscle is usually absent. It is located between the occipital protuberances and the posterior auricular region, and is usually fused with auricularis posterior It may be found deep or superficial to trapezius. It is also known as the occipitalis transverse muscle.

Reported frequencies are remarkable. Occipitalis minor is always "present" in Malays, in 56% of "blacks", 50% of Japanese, 36% of Europeans, and is "nonexistent" in Hottentots and Melanesians.

Variations are those of origin and insertion, e.g., from the external occipital protuberance and insertion into the parotid fascia and the angle of the mouth interdigitaying with platysma. Insertion into the angle of the mouth allows it to act as a "risorius" muscle.


Anson, B.J., Ed. (1966) Morris' Human Anatomy, 12th ed. The Blakiston Division, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.

Gruber, W. (1880) Ein in der Haut oder Fasciae ges Gesichtes und mit seiner Endzacke am Mundwinkel als Musculus risorius endender Musculus occipitalis minor- Santorini. Arch. Path. Anat. Physiol. Klin. Med. 80:83-86.

Macalister, A. (1875) Observations on muscular anomalies in the human anatomy. Third series with a catalogue of the principal muscular variations hitherto published. Trans. Roy. Irish Acad. Sci. 25:1-130.

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