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The ontogenetic growth pattern of selected components of the skeleton, muscle mass, and muscle lever arms within the head of the red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis, were investigated. The results of this analysis appear to indicate an ontogenetic shift from an early emphasis upon prey manipulation to a later emphasis upon striking. The ecological, morphological and phylogenetic evidence for this shift is described and specific testable hypotheses are proposed.