The ontogeny of feeding kinematics in a giant salamander Cryptobranchus alleganiensis: Does current function or phylogenetic relatedness predict the scaling patterns of movement?

Zoology (Jena). 2005;108(2):155-67. doi: 10.1016/j.zool.2005.03.006.


Studies of the scaling of feeding movements in vertebrates have included three species that display both near-geometric growth and isometry of kinematic variables. These scaling characteristics allow one to examine the "pure" relationship of growth and movement. Despite similar growth patterns, the feeding movements of toads (Bufo) slow down more with increasing body size than those of bass (Micropterus), and sharks (Ginglymostoma). This variation might be due to major differences in the mechanism of prey capture; the bass and sharks use suction to capture prey in water, while the toad uses tongue prehension to capture prey on land. To investigate whether or not these different scaling patterns are correlated with differences in feeding mechanics, we examined the ontogenetic scaling of prey capture movements in the hellbender salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), which also has near-geometric growth. The hellbender suction feeds in the same general manner as the teleosts and shark, but is much more closely related to the toad. The feeding movements of the hellbender scale more similarly to the feeding movements of toads than to those of fishes or sharks, indicating that phylogenetic relatedness rather than biomechanical similarity predicts ontogenetic scaling patterns of movement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Mouth / physiology*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Urodela / genetics
  • Urodela / growth & development*
  • Urodela / physiology*
  • Video Recording