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Number of Maxillary Teeth in Scincid Lizards: Lineage Characteristics and Ecological Implications

Allen E. Greer and John Chong
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Mar., 2007), pp. 94-101
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4498556
Page Count: 8
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Number of Maxillary Teeth in Scincid Lizards: Lineage Characteristics and Ecological Implications
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Abstract

The relationship between the mean number of maxillary teeth and the mean head length was investigated among 67 species of skinks, each represented by five large adults, and chosen to represent skink diversity. Only 52.4% of the potentially available morphological space defined by the four coordinates representing the ends of the range of these two variables is actually occupied by the datapoints for the species. There is no relationship between the two variables within skinks as a whole or within major lineages. The most primitive species falls close to the center of the cloud of datapoints. The ratio of the mean number of maxillary teeth to the mean head length is significantly greater in the Eugongylus group of eugongyline skinks than it is in the sphenomorphine skinks. Considering the number of teeth on other bones, these differences may be even greater than indicated by the number of teeth on only the maxilla. Because these two groups occur in broad sympatry in the Australian region, the difference between them in the number of teeth may represent major "guild" differences in the kind of food they are eating or the way in which they are processing it. Within most species, however, the number of maxillary teeth increases significantly with head length, and the slope of this regression is significantly correlated with the ratio of the number of maxillary teeth to head length.

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