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In answering this question Could Wolverine's claws be prevented from unsheathing if his wrists are bent? I couldn't find anything that actually described what caused Wolverines claws to pop out. I've seen pictures of x-rays and there doesn't seem to be extra bones to help. I would assume that there are extra muscles involved but this is never mentioned. His claws are a part of his mutation not surgically inserted like it was previously believed. So what makes them work?

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    Shh! You are asking a question that no one at Marvel has EVER tried to answer. We don't know what happens to people who ask HOW Wolverine's claws are connected to his biology, but they are never seen again. The writers who created his "bone" claws during the time he had lost his adamantium have still never been found...:) – Thaddeus Howze May 25 '12 at 20:03
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    @Thaddeus Oh come on it's not like Marvel is some shady organization! Hey who is that at my window Oh my god Stan Lee is here!! (He's just such a nice guy I feel I can trust him instantly) I'm going to open the door an see if I can get an autograph! – Kevin Howell May 25 '12 at 20:19
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    @KevinHowell? Kevin? Hello? I'm kind of worried about you, haven't heard from you since you said you saw Stan Lee? – Mark Beadles May 25 '12 at 20:40
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    @MarkBeadles Haha don't worry about me true believers I'm fine! It turns out it wasn't Stan Lee at all but a handsome stranger. No need to worry about me. Excelsior! – Kevin Howell May 25 '12 at 20:45
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    The muscles used for Wolverine's claws are the same type as the ones Angel uses to control those huge wings of his. They're unfathomably powerful, infinitesimally small, and need no connection points. This is also similar to how Wolverine's claw "gromits" allow for much larger blades than they are wide. – Gorchestopher H May 26 '12 at 0:36
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Although probably out of date, this trading card is from 1991

enter image description here

Seems to imply that the muscles around the claws were surgically altered to extend the claws. This was prior to the precedent of bone claws. However, I would assume that the idea of "claw extension muscles" is a safe bet.

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    Ha! This is a fantastic find! – Kyle. Jan 15 '13 at 20:10
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    I still have the old cards, that is how I IDed it. – Ashterothi Jan 15 '13 at 20:13
  • I figured! I don't know why, but the schematic made me laugh out loud...it's like a Wolverine infographic! – Kyle. Jan 15 '13 at 20:15
  • I can't believe it. I have that card. I used to memorize them all that's where I received most of my comicbook knowledge from and I have never noticed the line that stated the surgically rearranged muscles. It's not much but it may be the best description so far. – Kevin Howell Jan 15 '13 at 20:36
  • Overall this doesn't really describe how the muscles work but it is the closest to a canon answer from Marvel that I think we'll see. – Kevin Howell Jan 18 '13 at 15:25
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I'm not sure if this is canon, but I have found this drawing here. Is show a nice cut out technical drawing in the center that show some muscle attached to the claws to move them.

Wolverine

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    No, its not canon but it is very extensive and the fans who did it showed a lot of love. More than Marvel ever tried to. You get the +1 for finding it and sharing it. – Thaddeus Howze May 25 '12 at 20:31
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    @Thaddeus - I have seen some mentions (when researching wrist bending question) that Marvel writers HATED it when someone pinned down the claw mechanics because that removed flexibility from them to write what they wanted – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 25 '12 at 23:25
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    Realize it's already established as non-cannon, but my biggest problem with the diagram is that it shows his claw sheath as part of his skeleton, and goes as far as adding small muscles to control locking mechanisms for the claws. The claw sheaths should be a part of his gloves. I do agree that it's cool though. – Gorchestopher H May 26 '12 at 1:13
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    @KevinHowell Fair enough. With luck, I might get the Populist badge out of this. – DavRob60 Jan 18 '13 at 15:37
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    That photo wasn't fan made. It is from a book published by Marvel as "The Ultimate Guide", so it is as canon as possible, random writer choices to ignore it notwithstanding. – user16628 Aug 12 '13 at 7:06
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This might be better as a comment on someone else's answer, but not sure which one. This exact topic was illustrated in an infographic by Daniel Mora, who is a Costa Rican artist rather well-known for his Marvel & DC art.

You can view the entire infographic here, but the relevant part is snipped out & shown below. The original is in Spanish, but I've done a rough translation of the text on this part:

enter image description here

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Was going to put this as a comment in reply to Kevin Howell, but it will be longer than a comment will probably allow.

Speaking from a physiology standpoint, it is going to probably act much the same as the muscles do for the leg. Your quadriceps on the front bring your leg from a bent angle to a straight angle, and the hamstrings in the back do the opposite.

So I would surmise that (surgically rearranged or not), there are opposing sets of muscle/tendon complexes (tendons connect muscle to bone, you have anchoring tendons at each end of a muscle). One set relaxes as the other contracts, and the claws slide out. To retract, the opposing muscle contracts as the first one relaxes.

This would also give a good explanation of how Wolverine is able to control the speed and individuality of the claws, much like you can make a slow or fast fist, or extend different fingers apart from each other. (With some exception in various positions for the middle and ring fingers as they share a tendon).

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