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Zoolog Sci. 1998 Jun 1;15(3):405-8. doi: 10.2108/zsj.15.405.

Asymmetry of Mouth-Opening of a Small Herbivorous Cichlid Fish Telmatochromis temporalis in Lake Tanganyika.


Direction of mouth-opening of a small herbivorous Tanganyikan cichlid, Telmatochromis temporalis, was studied. Each sample fish opened its mouth either rightward or leftward in some degree. The directions of mouth-opening were independent of the body curve directions, and the asymmetry will be due to asymmetric mouth morph individually specific. The degree of the mouth asymmetry was not related to body size, suggesting the asymmetry being not acquired characters. No fish opened the mouth in lateral symmetry, indicating that the asymmetry is different from "fluctuating asymmetry". This fish took algae on rock surface usually using right or left side of its mouth. However, strong relations between directions of mouth-openings and frequencies of mouth side used in foraging were not found, and the biological role of the asymmetry, if any, is not clear now.

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