A cineradiographic and electromyographic study of mastication in Tenrec ecaudatus

J Morphol. 1985 Aug;185(2):155-82. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051850203.


Regular chewing was studied in the specialized Malagasy insectivore Tenrec ecaudatus with the aid of precisely correlated electromyography of the main adductors, digastrics, and two hyoid muscles and cineradiography for which metallic markers were placed in the mandibles, tongue, and hyoid bone. During the power stroke the body of the mandible moves dorsally and medially. The medially directed component of movement at this time is greatly increased by simultaneous rotation of the mandible about its longitudinal axis. The highly mobile symphysis, spherical dentary condyle, loss of superficial masseter muscle and zygoma, and the simplified zalamnodont molars all appear to be related to the large amount of mandibular rotation that occurs during occlusion. The balancing side lateral pterygoid muscle (inferior head) apparently shifts the working side mandible laterally during the last part of opening and the first part of closing. The working side temporalis and the superficial masseter muscle are both responsible for the shift back to the midline. The temporalis is usually active to the same extent on the working and balancing sides during the power stroke. The level of activity (amplitude) of the temporalis and duration of the power stroke increase with harder foods. Whenever soft foods are chewed, the superficial masseter is only active on the working side; whenever foods of increasing hardness are chewed, its level of activity on the balancing side increases to approach that of the working side. Mandibular rotation is greatly reduced when hard foods are chewed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cineradiography
  • Electromyography
  • Eulipotyphla / anatomy & histology
  • Eulipotyphla / physiology*
  • Mastication*
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiology*