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J Exp Biol. 1999 May;202 (Pt 9):1127-37.

Kinematics of intraoral transport and swallowing in the herbivorous lizard uromastix acanthinurus

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Antwerp (UIA), Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium.


The kinematics of intraoral transport and swallowing in lizards of the species Uromastix acanthinurus (Chamaeleonidae, Leiolepidinae) were investigated using cineradiography (50 frames s-1). Additional recordings were also made using high-speed (500 frames s-1) and conventional video systems (25 frames s-1). Small metal markers were inserted into different parts of the upper and lower jaw and the tongue. Cineradiographic images were digitised, and displacements of the body, head, upper and lower jaw and the tongue were quantified. Twenty additional variables depicting displacements and the timing of events were calculated. Multivariate analyses of variance indicated significant differences between feeding stages. Remarkably, only very few food-type-dependent differences were observed during intraoral transport, and no such differences could be demonstrated during swallowing. Using previously published data for the closely related insectivorous lizard Plocederma stellio, the effect of dietary specialisation in U. acanthinurus on the kinematic variables while eating locusts was examined. Species differed in a number of gape- and tongue-related variables. These differences may be related to differences in tongue structure between the species. Clearly, U. acanthinurus possesses a specialised gut and dental structure that allows them efficiently to cut pieces from whole leaves. However, a decrease in modulatory capacity seems to be a consequence of dietary specialisation in Uromastix acanthinurus.

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