Scaling of the ballistic tongue apparatus in chameleons

Authors

  • Christopher V. Anderson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue SCA 110, Tampa, Florida 33620
    • Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue – SCA 110, Tampa, FL, 33620
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  • Thomas Sheridan,

    1. Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue SCA 110, Tampa, Florida 33620
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  • Stephen M. Deban

    1. Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue SCA 110, Tampa, Florida 33620
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Abstract

Body dimensions of organisms can have a profound impact on their functional and structural properties. We examined the morphological proportions of the feeding apparatus of 105 chameleon specimens representing 23 species in seven genera, spanning a 1,000-fold range in body mass to test whether the feeding apparatus conforms to the null hypotheses of geometric similarity that is based on the prevalence of geometric similarity in other ectothermic vertebrates. We used a phylogenetically corrected regression analysis based on a composite phylogenetic hypothesis to determine the interspecific scaling patterns of the feeding apparatus. We also determined the intraspecific (ontogenetic) scaling patterns for the feeding apparatus in three species. We found that both intraspecifically and interspecifically, the musculoskeletal components of the feeding apparatus scale isometrically among themselves, independent of body length. The feeding apparatus is thus of conserved proportions regardless of overall body length. In contrast, we found that the tongue apparatus as a whole and its musculoskeletal components scale with negative allometry with respect to snout-vent length—smaller individuals have a proportionately larger feeding apparatus than larger individuals, both within and among species. Finally, the tongue apparatus as a whole scales with negative allometry with respect to body mass through ontogeny, but with isometry interspecifically. We suggest that the observed allometry may be maintained by natural selection because an enlarged feeding apparatus at small body size may maximize projection distance and the size of prey that smaller animals with higher mass-specific metabolic rates can capture. J. Morphol. 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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