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Zoology (Jena). 2002;105(1):71-81.

Testing amniote models of prey transport kinematics: a quantitative analysis of mouth opening patterns in lizards.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Ohio University, Athens 45701, USA.


Two models have been proposed to describe the prey transport kinematics of terrestrial vertebrates (Bramble and Wake, 1985; Reilly and Lauder, 1990). The critical difference between the models is the presence or absence of a slow open-II phase (SO-II) in the gape profile during mouth opening. Each of these models has been applied to lizards, however to date, lizard feeding kinematics have not been adequately quantified to assess the utility of these models for this clade. Neither model has been sufficiently tested due to the lack of a methodology to assess the specific differences between the models. We describe a method that uses explicit mathematical criteria to define the kinematic phases in tetrapod feeding. This "slope analysis& is used to precisely quantify and compare the transport kinematics of seven lizard species. Lizard transport kinematics were highly variable both within and across taxa. However, several common gape cycle patterns were identified. The predominant patterns were slow-fast opening (37.3%), fast opening only (22.9%) and slow opening only (21.2%). The most common pattern explicitly fits the prediction of the Reilly and Lauder model while the other two are similar to patterns observed in salamanders. Thus, lizards possess both the slow opening-fast opening pattern predicted for amniotes and the more primitive, simple opening pattern characteristic of more basal tetrapods. Plateau phases were found in only 12.8% of the profiles and only a fourth of these (3.4% of the total) explicitly fit the Bramble and Wake model (slow opening, plateau, fast opening) and two species never exhibited plateaus in their gape cycles. Thus, it is clear that the Bramble and Wake model is not supported as a generalized model for lizards or generalized tetrapods.


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