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Durophagous Feeding Adaptations in an Amphisbaenid

Gregory Pregill
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 18, No. 2 (Jun., 1984), pp. 186-191
DOI: 10.2307/1563747
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1563747
Page Count: 6
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Durophagous Feeding Adaptations in an Amphisbaenid
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Abstract

Enlarged, molariform dentition associated with eating hard foods is known to occur in numerous lizards such as Varanus niloticus (Varanidae) and Dracaena guianensis (Teiidae), but heretofore has never been reported in an amphisbaenid. Blunt, crushing teeth similar to those of molluscivorous lizards are present in Amphisbaena ridleyi, a poorly known species endemic to the oceanic island of Fernando de Noronha in the western North Atlantic. The large coronoid process of the mandible is also modified to accommodate insertion of massive adductors. Both juveniles and adults feed on small snails but their diet also includes other invertebrates. The feeding specializations of A. ridleyi are superimposed on those that all amphisbaenids share as a result of a subterranean existence. Yet A. ridleyi has evolved in an environment essentially free from competitors and predators that, with its morphological specializations, have allowed its diet to expand. These observations encourage the idea that structural innovations in teeth and jaws need not always result in a narrower feeding repertoire for an organism.

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