Mudskipping gobies (Periophthalminae) are among the most terrestrial of amphibious fishes. Specializations associated with terrestrial prey capture and deglutition have been studied in Periophthalmus koelreuteri by light and X-ray cinematography which permits direct visualization of pharyngeal jaw movement during deglutition. Anatomical specializations of the pharyngeal jaws are described and include depressible teeth, a large ventral process on ceratobranchial five, and muscular modifications.
Multiple terrestrial feedings occur by Periophthalmus without a return to the water, and cineradiography reveals that the buccal cavity is often filled with air during terrestrial excursions in contrast to some previous hypotheses. Transport of the prey into the oesophagus occurs primarily by anteroposterior movement of the upper pharyngeal jaw. The lower pharyngeal jaw plays a limited role in food transport and may serve primarily to hold and position prey. The bite between upper and lower pharyngeal jaws occurs between the anterior teeth, and both jaws are protracted together during raking of food into the oesophagus. Functional specializations correlated with terrestrial feeding include obligatory use of pharyngeal jaws for swallowing even small prey items and positioning of the prey in the pharynx by pharyngeal jaw and hyoid movements alone.
This analysis of terrestrial feeding allows hypotheses of design constraints imposed by the aquatic medium on fishes to be raised and tested.