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J Morphol. 2005 May;264(2):211-22.

Functional morphology of the cephalopod buccal mass: a novel joint type.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Biology, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3280, USA.


The arrangement of the musculature and connective tissues of the buccal mass of the coleoid cephalopods Octopus bimaculoides, Sepia officinalis, and Loliguncula brevis was examined using dissection and histology. Serial sections in three mutually perpendicular planes were used to identify the muscles and connective tissues responsible for beak movements and stability and to describe their morphology and fiber trajectories. Four major beak muscles were identified: the anterior, posterior, superior, and lateral mandibular muscles. The anterior, posterior, and superior mandibular muscles connect the upper beak and the lower beak. Although the lateral mandibular muscles originate on the upper beak, they do not connect to the lower beak and instead insert on a connective tissue sheath surrounding the buccal mass. Examination of the fibers of the lateral mandibular muscles reveals that they have the organization of a muscular hydrostat, with muscle fibers oriented in three mutually perpendicular orientations. Although the beaks are capable of complex opening, closing, and shearing movements, they do not contact one another and are instead connected only by the musculature of the buccal mass. Based on the morphological analysis and observations of freshly dissected beaks undergoing the stereotyped bite cycle, the functional role of the beak muscles is hypothesized. The anterior and superior mandibular muscles are likely responsible for beak closing and shearing movements. The posterior mandibular muscle is likely also involved in beak closing, but may act synergistically with the lateral mandibular muscles to open the beaks. The lateral mandibular muscles may use a muscular-hydrostatic mechanism to control the location of the pivot between the beaks and to generate the force required for beak opening. The lack of contact between the beaks and the morphology of the lateral mandibular muscles suggests that the buccal mass of coleoid cephalopods may represent a previously unexamined flexible joint mechanism. The term "muscle articulation" is proposed here to denote the importance of the musculature in the function of such a joint.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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