Kinematic analysis of a novel feeding mechanism in the brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis (Teleostei: Salmonidae): behavioral modulation of a functional novelty

J Exp Biol. 2001 Nov;204(Pt 22):3905-16.


The tongue-bite apparatus (TBA) of salmonids represents an impressive novel feeding mechanism. The TBA consists of a set of well-developed teeth on the dorsal surface of the anterior hyoid (basihyal) and an opposing set of teeth on the roof of the mouth (vomer). A kinematic analysis of behaviors associated with the TBA in the brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis was performed using high-speed video (250 frames s(-1)). Two distinct behaviors were identified, raking and open-mouth chewing. Univariate analysis demonstrated that these behaviors were significantly different from one another. The power stroke of raking is characterized by significantly greater neurocranial elevation (raking, 36 degrees; open-mouth chewing, 16 degrees ) and retraction of the pectoral girdle (raking, 0.85 cm or 21 % of head length; open-mouth chewing, 0.41 cm or 10 % of head length). Open-mouth chewing is characterized predominantly by dorso-ventral excursions of the anterior hyoid (open-mouth chewing, 0.26 cm; raking, 0.14 cm). Raking is significantly shorter in duration (mean 49 ms) than open-mouth chewing (mean 77 ms). When presented with three different types of prey (crickets, fish or worms), Salvelinus fontinalis showed no variation in raking behavior, indicating that raking is highly stereotyped. In contrast, when feeding on worms, Salvelinus fontinalis modulated open-mouth chewing behavior with shorter durations to maximum displacement (at least 20 ms shorter than for either fish or cricket), although the magnitude of displacements did not vary. The reasons for the shorter duration of displacement variables while feeding on worms remains unclear. During post-capture processing behaviors in Salvelinus fontinalis, the magnitude of displacement variables is highly variable between individuals, but temporal patterns are not. This study characterizes two novel post-capture feeding behaviors and modulation of those behaviors in salmonids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Tooth
  • Trout / physiology*
  • Video Recording