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A Peacock Bass (Cichla) functional novelty relaxes a constraint imposed by the classic cichlid pharyngeal jaw innovation

Citation

Burress, Edward; Wainwright, Peter (2020), A Peacock Bass (Cichla) functional novelty relaxes a constraint imposed by the classic cichlid pharyngeal jaw innovation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.stqjq2c0t

Abstract

Innovations may provide access to new resources but often result in significant trade-offs. Pharyngognathy is a classic pharyngeal jaw innovation in which the left and right lower pharyngeal jaw (LPJ) bones are united into a single structure, producing a strong bite but reduced gape. Throughout cichlids, pharyngeal suturing occurs along the entire medial border between LPJ bones, except in Peacock bass (Cichla), where these bones are connected by ligaments only in their anterior region. We show that this limited attachment permits the jaw bones to spread apart and we link this feature to an increase in pharyngeal gape that is comparable to non-pharyngognathous species. The capacity of the LPJ bones to spread apart is strongest in juveniles and is mostly lost during development. Juvenile Cichla exhibit size-specific pharyngeal gape similar to non-pharyngognathous percomorphs, but adults exhibit pharyngeal gape on par with other predatory cichlids. Relaxation of pharyngeal suturing offsets a major deleterious consequence of pharyngognathy by reducing gape limitation and we propose this may accelerate the ontogenetic transition to piscivory. Partial reversal of the classic cichlid pharyngeal jaw innovation highlights the functional trade-offs that often accompany innovations and may be a major cause of variation in their macroevolutionary consequences.