• manatee;
  • Tricbecbus manatus;
  • facial muscles;
  • muscular hydrostat;
  • anatomy;
  • perioral bristles;
  • vibrissae;
  • feeding behavior


Facial musculature was examined in the Florida manatee, Tricbecbus manatus latirostris, in order to develop a functional model of perioral bristle use. Muscles identified include the M. levator nasolabialis, M. buccinatorius, M. maxillonasolabialis, M. centralis nasi, M. lateralis nasi, M. spbincter colli profundus pars oris, M. orbicularis oris, M. mandibularis, and M. mentalis. A new muscle, M. centralis nasi, has been named and is an integral part of perioral bristle movement. The snout of the Florida manatee is capable of performing complex movements. The prehensile ability of Florida manatees can be explained in the context of a muscular hydrostat as defined by Kier and Smith (1985). Eversion of certain bristles in the upper lip occurs by shortening longitudinal, transverse, and semicircular muscles in combination with volume displacement due to compensatory changes in the shape of the snout. Midline sweeping of these bristles is accomplished by the contraction of M. centralis nasi. Eversion of bristles on the lower jaw is a result of shortening of M. mentalis. Contraction of M. orbicularis oris pushes vegetation into the oral cavity. All observed movement patterns and uses of perioral bristles can be explained by variation of these sequences within the context of muscular hydrostat function.