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Re: lizard jaws
Thanks to those who responded. Graeme Barden's observations on Komodo
dragons suggests that while the construction of their skulls/jaws
theoretically (read that: "in my ignorance of what they're actually
would allow them to work like snake jaws (to a degree, anyway), the
animals don't actually use their jaws that way. So much for inferring
behavior from anatomy!
Aaron Feuk seems to have some references. I'd love to have them, and I
can pursue it in the literature myself. A direct line would be
Nick Pharris' response made me go back to my initial posting to see where
I went wrong. I don't want to trouble anybody to tell me what I already
know--that's just a waste of time. I'll try to word my questions more
precisely. I know their anatomy, but was hoping to find out what they
Here is some more background, in case anybody else is interested.
Squamates MAY have as many as eight kinetic joints in their skulls (my
sources differ on the count). It's my understanding that the jaw
condyles aren't actually disjointed. Instead, the joint itself spreads
apart by virtue of other kinetic joints in the skull (corrections,
Perhaps it is no surprise that large lizards that depend on strong bites
to subdue prey, like the Komodo dragon (corrections?) don't use their
kinetic ability, or have lost it (????). On the other hand, snakes, with
little dependence (there is _some_) on biting to kill prey, have
well-developed kinesis. Incidentally, the skulls of birds are kinetic in
much the same way as those of lizards.
Komodo dragons may be unique because of their large size. Gila monsters
may be the best comparison with sphenodonts. Does anybody have any
suggestions as to why sphendonts seem to have been so completely
outcompeted by lizards? Is there anything besides skull kinesis that
seems likely? Is my premise right--i.e., have they indeed been
outcompeted by LIZARDS? How would we know?
Norman R. King tel: (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences fax: (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org