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Title: Ontogeny of cranial musculoskeletal anatomy and its relationship to allometric increase in bite force in an insectivorous bat ( Eptesicus fuscus )

Bite force is a performance metric commonly used to link cranial morphology with dietary ecology, as the strength of forces produced by the feeding apparatus largely constrains the foods an individual can consume. At a macroevolutionary scale, there is evidence that evolutionary changes in the anatomical elements involved in producing bite force have contributed to dietary diversification in mammals. Much less is known about how these elements change over postnatal ontogeny. Mammalian diets drastically shift over ontogeny—from drinking mother's milk to feeding on adult foods—presumably with equally drastic changes in the morphology of the feeding apparatus and bite performance. Here, we investigate ontogenetic morphological changes in the insectivorous big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), which has an extreme, positive allometric increase in bite force during development. Using contrast‐enhanced micro‐computed tomography scans of a developmental series from birth to adult morphology, we quantified skull shape and measured skeletal and muscular parameters directly related to bite force production. We found pronounced changes in the skull over ontogeny, including a large increase in the volume of the temporalis and masseter muscles, and an expansion of the skull dome and sagittal crest that would serve to increase the temporalis attachment area. These changes indicate that development of the jaw adductors play an important role in the development of biting performance of these bats. Notably, static bite force increases with positive allometry with respect to all anatomical measures examined, suggesting that modifications in biting dynamics and/or improved motor coordination also contribute to increases in biting performance.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Anatomical Record
Medium: X Size: p. 2842-2852
["p. 2842-2852"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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