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Scopate Tomia: An Adaptation for Handling Hard-Shelled Prey?

Kenneth L. Gosner
The Wilson Bulletin
Vol. 105, No. 2 (Jun., 1993), pp. 316-324
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4163289
Page Count: 9
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Scopate Tomia: An Adaptation for Handling Hard-Shelled Prey?
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Abstract

This paper reports the presence of scopate tomia, here defined as brushlike ridges on the cutting edges of the mandibles, in some 30 families of birds, including the Ciconiidae (Anastomus) in which tomial brushes were first described by Kahl (1971). The functional significance and biological role of scopate tomia are understood poorly. Tomial brushes probably enhance the holding ability of the bill by increasing its coefficient of friction. Most birds possessing brushes are at least partly insectivorous and have in common a preference for hard-shelled dietary items such as large insects or, as in the case of Anastomus, large snails.

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