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The anatomy and feeding mechanism of the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus)

Matsumoto, Ryoko; Fujiwara, Shin-Ichi; Evans, Susan E; (2024) The anatomy and feeding mechanism of the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus). Journal of Anatomy 10.1111/joa.14004. (In press).

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Abstract

The fully aquatic Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is a member of the Cryptobranchidae, and is currently distributed in western Japan, with other members of this group restricted to China and North America. Their feeding behaviour is characterized by a form of suction feeding that includes asymmetric movements of the jaw and hyobranchial apparatus. Previous studies on the North American species, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, have suggested that this specialized jaw movement is produced by a flexible quadrate-articular joint combined with a loosely connected lower jaw symphysis including two small fibrocartilaginous pads. However, little is known about this feeding behaviour in the Asian species, nor have the three-dimensional asymmetric jaw movements been fully investigated in any member of Cryptobranchidae. In this study, we explore the asymmetric jaw movements in A. japonicus using three methods: (1) dissection of musculoskeletal structures; (2) filming of feeding behaviour to understand in which situations asymmetric feeding is used; (3) analysis of 3D movement of jaws and skull. In the third component, fresh (from frozen) specimens of A. japonicus were manipulated to replicate asymmetric and symmetric jaw movements, with the specimens CT scanned after each step to obtain the 3D morphology of the jaws at different positions. These positions were combined and their Euler angles from resting (closed) jaw position were calculated for asymmetric or symmetric jaw positions. Our filming revealed that asymmetric jaw movements are linked to the position of the prey in relation to the snout, with the jaw closest to the prey opening asymmetrically. Moreover, this action allows the salamander to simultaneously grasp prey in one side of the mouth while ejecting water on the other side, if the first suction attempt fails. The asymmetric jaw movements are performed mainly by rotation of the mandible about its long axis, with very limited lateral jaw movements. During asymmetric and symmetric jaw movements, the posterior ends of the maxilla and quadrate move slightly. The asymmetric jaw movements are permitted by a mobile quadrate-articular joint formed by wide, round cartilages, and by two small fibrocartilage pads within the jaw symphysis that act as cushions during jaw rotation. Some of these soft tissue structures leave traces on the jaws and skull, allowing feeding mode to be reconstructed in fossil taxa. Understanding cryptobranchid asymmetric jaw movement thus requires a comprehensive assessment of not only the symphysial morphology but also that of other cranial and hyobranchial elements.

Type: Article
Title: The anatomy and feeding mechanism of the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus)
Location: England
DOI: 10.1111/joa.14004
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joa.14004
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Aquatic; Caudata; Cryptobranchidae; hyobranchial apparatus; suction feeding
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186179
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