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The retroarticular process, streptostyly and the caecilian jaw closing system

Authors
Journal
Zoology
0944-2006
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
108
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.zool.2005.09.007
Keywords
  • Caecilians
  • Jaw Mechanics
  • Bite Force
Disciplines
  • Physics

Abstract

Abstract Caecilians have two functionally separate sets of jaw closing muscles. The jaw adductor muscles are parallel fibered muscles positioned close to the jaw joint and their lever mechanics suggests they are well suited to rapidly closing the jaws. A second set of muscles, the hypaxial interhyoideus posterior (IHP), levers the jaws closed by pulling on the retroarticular process (RA) of the lower jaw. Models of the lower jaw point out that the angle and length of the RA has a profound effect on the closure force exerted by the IHP. The caecilian skull is streptostylic – the quadrate-squamosal apparatus (QSA) moves relative to the rest of the skull, a condition that seems at odds with a well-ossified cranium. Modeling the contribution of this streptostylic suspension of the lower jaw shows that rotational freedom of the QSA amplifies the force of the IHP by redirecting force applied along the low axis of the lower jaw. Measurements from several species and life stages of preserved caecilians reveal a large variation in predicted bite force (as a multiple of IHP force) with age and phylogeny.

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