Dec 17, 2004

Prey capture kinematics of ant-eating lizards

The Journal of Experimental Biology
Jay J Meyers, Anthony Herrel


While morphological and behavioral feeding specializations are obvious in many vertebrate groups, among lizards there appear to be few dietary specialists. By comparing the prey capture kinematics and overall feeding behavior in two highly specialized ant-eating lizards (Moloch horridus and Phrynosoma platyrhinos) with those of two closely related dietary generalists (Pogona vitticeps and Uma notata), we investigate whether dietary specialization has been accompanied by changes in the function and use of the feeding system. We quantified kinematic variables from high-speed video recordings (200-250 frames s(-1)) of each species feeding on ants. Prey capture was strikingly different in M. horridus to that of other species, being characterized by a suite of unusual behaviors including the lack of a body lunge, faster tongue protrusion, reduced prey processing and, most notably, the ability to modulate the slow open phase of the gape cycle. In concert, these traits make a single feeding event in M. horridus faster than that in any other iguanian lizard studied to date. Prey capture behavior in P. platyrhinos is kinematically more similar to U. notata and P. vitticeps than to M. horridus, but the ant specialists are similar in that...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Phrynosoma platyrhinos
Video Recording
Gephyromantis horridus
Benign Neoplasm of Tongue
Uma notata

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