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A novel intramandibular joint facilitates feeding versatility in the sixbar distichodus

Citation

Martinez, Christopher; Tovar, Angelly; Wainwright, Peter (2022), A novel intramandibular joint facilitates feeding versatility in the sixbar distichodus, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B8N058

Abstract

The intramandibular joint (IMJ) is a secondary point of movement between the two major bones of the lower jaw. It has independently evolved in several groups of teleost fishes, each time representing a departure from related species in which the mandible functions as a single structure rotating only at the quadratomandibular joint (QMJ). In this study, we examine kinematic consequences of the IMJ novelty in a freshwater characiform fish, the herbivorous Distichodus sexfasciatus. We combine traditional kinematic approaches with trajectory-based analysis of motion shapes to compare patterns of prey capture movements during substrate biting, the fish&[prime]s native feeding mode, and suction of prey from the water column. We find that the IMJ enables complex jaw motions and contributes to feeding versatility by allowing the fish to modulate its kinematics in response to different prey and to various scenarios of jaw-substrate interaction. Implications of the IMJ include context-dependent movements of lower versus upper jaws, enhanced lower jaw protrusion, and the ability to maintain contact between the teeth and substrate throughout the jaw closing or biting phase of the motion. The IMJ in D. sexfasciatus appears to be an adaptation for removing attached benthic prey, consistent with its function in other groups that have evolved the joint. This study builds on our understanding of the role of the IMJ during prey capture and provides insights into broader implications of the innovative trait.