Form and function of the feeding apparatus of Alligator mississippiensis



The architecture of the jaw muscles and their tendons of Alligator mississippiensis is described and their function examined by electromyography. Alligator grabs its prey with forward lunges or rapid lateral movements of the head. It does not engage in regular masticatory cycles. Prey is manipulated by inertial movements and the tongue does not appear to play any role in transport. The Mm. adductor mandibulae externus, adductor mandibulae posterior, and pterygoideus activate bilaterally and simultaneously during rapid closing or crushing. The M. pterygoideus does not act during prey holding whereas the Mm. adductor mandibulae externus, adductor mandibulae posterior continue to be active. The Mm. depressor mandibulae and intramandibularis are variably active during both jaw opening and closing.