Morphology of the feeding system in agamid lizards : ecological correlates
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
The anatomical record. - Philadelphia, Pa, 1906 - 2002
, p. 496-507
University of Antwerp
The interaction of organismal design with ecology, and its evolutionary development are the subject of many functional and ecomorphological studies. Many studies have shown that the morphology and mechanics of the masticatory apparatus in mammals are adapted to diet. To investigate the relations between diet and the morphological and physiological properties of the lizard jaw system, a detailed analysis of the structure of the jaw apparatus was undertaken in the insectivorous lizard Plocederma stellio and in closely related herbivorous lizards of the genus Uromastix. The morphological and physiological properties of the jaw system in P. stellio and U. aegyptius were studied by means of dissections, light microscopy, histochemical characterisations, and in vivo stimulation experiments. The skull of Uromastix seems to be built; for forceful biting (high, short snout). Additionally, the pterygoid muscle is modified in P. stellio, resulting in an additional force component: during static biting. Stimulation experiments indicate that jaw muscles in both species are fast, which is supported by histochemical stainings. However, the oxidative capacity of the jaw muscles is larger in Uromastix. Contraction characteristics and performance of the feeding system (force output) are clearly thermally dependent. We conclude that several characteristics of the jaw system (presence of extra portion of the pterygoid muscle, large oxidative capacity of jaw muscles) in Uromastix may be attributed to its herbivorous diet. Jaw muscles, however, are still faster than expected. This is presumably the result of trade-offs between the thermal characteristics of the jaw adductors and the herbivorous lifestyle of these animals. Anat Rec 254:496-507, 1999. (C) 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.