Feeding mechanics of teleost fishes (Labridae; Perciformes): A test of four-bar linkage models


  • Mark W. Westneat

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27706
    • Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706
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The feeding mechanisms of two labrid fishes (Cheilinus chlorurus and C. diagrammus: Labridae: Perciformes) are modeled using four-bar linkage theory from mechanical engineering. The actions of the feeding mechanisms are simulated by a computer program that uses morphometric data to calculate the geometry of mechanism structure. The predictions of three different four-bar linkages regarding the kinematics of feeding are compared to the movements observed through hign speed (200 fps) cinematography. A previously unidentified four-bar chain was found to be an accurate model of the mechanism by which upper jaw protrusion, maxillary rotation, and gape increase occur in Cheilinus. This mechanism involves the anterior jaws including the mandible, maxilla, premaxilla, palatine, and suspensorium. The accuracy of two previously described four-bar linkages was also tested by comparison of model predictions and film results. The opercular linkage proposed by Anker ('74) as a mechanism of jaw depression via opercular levation was found to be a poor predictor of feeding movements. This four-bar chain involves the opercle, suspensorium, interopercle, and mandible. Muller ('87) proposed a mechanism of hyoid depression involving cranial elevation due to epaxial muscle contraction as input motion The links in this mechanism include the neurocranium and hyomandibula, hyoid, sternohyoideus muscle, and pectoral girdle. This model was an accurate predictor of hyoid depression in Cheilinus when simultaneous cranial elevation and sternohyoideus contraction were simulated. Quantitative kinematic models involve simplifying assumptions when applied to complex musculoskeletal systems, but such models have a wide range of applications to vertebrate functional morphology.