Comparative Functional Morphology of the Masticatory Apparatus in the Long-snouted Crocodiles


Department of Zoology, National Science Museum, Tokyo, 3-23-1 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0073, Tokyo, Japan


The masticatory muscles and their related structures of the skull were observed in the Indian gavial (Gavialis gangeticus), the false gavial (Tomistoma schlegelii), and the African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) to detail some morphological differences in comparison with the other crocodile species, and to compare and elucidate the functional strategy of themasticatory apparatus in these long-snouted species. The Musculus pterygoideus posterior was relatively smaller in the three species compared with many short-snouted crocodiles. It suggests that the masticatory power in fish-eating long-snouted species is not so high as in the short-snouted crocodiles, while the masticatory muscles were morphologically different among the three long-snouted species as follows. The M. pterygoideus posterior of the false gavial was extended in the lateral side of the lower jaw unlike the Indian gavial. The M. pseudotemporalis and the Fenestra supratemporalis were largely developed in the Indian gavial, however we suggest that the other two species possess the weak bundles in this muscle. The false gavial and the African slender-snouted crocodile have the pterygoid bone well-developed extending dorso-ventrally and it is suggested that the M. adductor mandibulae posterior attached to the pterygoid bone may be much larger than the Indian gavial. These data morphologically clarify the masticatory mechanism in the long-snouted crocodiles different from the short-snouted species, and demonstrate that the evolutional strategy to share the functional role in the masticatory muscles have been differently established between the Indian gavial and the other two species. We also obtained the morphological data in the fossil skull of the Machikane crocodile (Toyotamaphymeia machikanense) and concluded from the fossil characters that the considerable developments of the M.pterygoideus posterior and the M.pseudotemporalis in this species had not morphologically been consistent with both the Indian and false gavials.