Long-Axis Rotation of Jaws of Bamboo Sharks During Suction Feeding

Published on
25 July 2022

Long-Axis Rotation of Jaws of Bamboo Sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) During Suction Feeding

Bradley R Scott, Elizabeth L Brainerd, Cheryl A D Wilga


Long-axis rotation (LAR) of the jaws may be an important component of vertebrate feeding mechanisms, as it has been hypothesized to occur during prey capture or food processing across diverse vertebrate groups including mammals, ray-finned fishes, and sharks and rays. LAR can affect tooth orientation as well as muscle fiber direction and therefore muscle power during feeding. However, to date only a handful of studies have demonstrated this LAR in vivo. Here, we use XROMM to document LAR of the upper and lower jaws in white-spotted bamboo sharks, Chiloscyllium plagiosum, during suction feeding. As the lower jaw begins to depress for suction expansion, both the upper jaw (palatoquadrate) and lower jaw (Meckel’s cartilage) evert, such that their toothed surfaces move laterally, and then they invert with jaw closing. Eversion has been shown to tense the dental ligament and erect the teeth in some sharks, but it is not clear how this tooth erection would contribute to suction feeding in bamboo sharks. Two recent XROMM studies have shown LAR of the lower jaws during mastication in mammals and stingrays and our study extends LAR to suction feeding and confirms its presence in shark species. Examples of LAR of the jaws are becoming increasingly widespread across vertebrates with unfused mandibular symphyses. Unfused lower jaws are the plesiomorphic condition for most vertebrate lineages and therefore LAR may be a common component of jaw mechanics unless the mandibular symphysis is fused.

Integrative Organismal Biology, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2022, obac024, DOI: 10.1093/iob/obac024


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