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Feeding Mechanisms in Pygopodid Lizards: How Can Lialis Swallow Such Large Prey?

Frederick C. Patchell and Richard Shine
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 59-64
DOI: 10.2307/1564125
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1564125
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Feeding Mechanisms in Pygopodid Lizards: How Can Lialis Swallow Such Large Prey?
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Abstract

Most species of the Australian legless lizards (Pygopodidae) feed primarily on arthropods, but one genus (Lialis) feeds on other lizards, chiefly skinks. Feeding behavior and structure of the skull and jaw muscles were studied in Lialis burtonis, Pygopus lepidopodus and Delma inornata. Pygopus and Delma resemble other gekkotan lizards in these respects, but Lialis is convergent on saurophagous snakes. In particular, Lialis possesses (i) pointed, recurved, hinged teeth, (ii) highly mobile mesokinetic and hypokinetic joints, and (iii) an extraordinarily elongate skull. All of these modifications can be interpreted as adaptations to increase the ability of Lialis to seize, handle and ingest large scincid prey. Further work is required to distinguish among alternative hypotheses on the roles of these cranial modifications.

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