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  1. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Fish perform many complex manipulation behaviors without hands or flexible muscular tongues, instead relying on more than 20 movable skeletal elements in their highly kinetic skulls. How fish use their skulls to accomplish these behaviors, however, remains unclear. Most previous mechanical models have represented the fish skull using one or more planar four-bar linkages, which have just a single degree of freedom (DoF). In contrast, truncated-cone hydrodynamic models have assumed up to five DoFs. In this study, we introduce and validate a 3D mechanical linkage model of a fish skull that incorporates the pectoral girdle and mandibular and hyoid arches. We validate this model using an in vivo motion dataset of suction feeding in channel catfish and then use this model to quantify the DoFs in the fish skull, to categorize the motion patterns of the cranial linkage during feeding, and to evaluate the association between these patterns and food motion. We find that the channel catfish skull functions as a 17-link, five-loop parallel mechanism. Despite having 19 potential DoFs, we find that seven DoFs are sufficient to describe most of the motion of the cranial linkage, consistent with the fish skull functioning as a multi-DoF, manipulation system. Channel catfish use this linkage to generate three different motion patterns (rostrocaudal wave, caudorostral wave, and compressive wave), each with its own associated food velocity profile. These results suggest that biomechanical manipulation systems must have a minimum number of DoFs to effectively control objects, whether in water or air. 
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  2. Abstract While functional morphologists have long studied the evolution of anatomical structures, the origin of morphological novelties has received less attention. When such novelties first originate they must become incorporated into an integrated system to be rendered fully functional. Thus, developmental integration is key at the origin of morphological novelties. However, given enough evolutionary time such integration may be broken, allowing for a division of labor that is facilitated by subsequent decoupling of structures. Cypriniformes represent a diverse group of freshwater fishes characterized by several trophic novelties that include: kinethmoid-mediated premaxillary protrusion, a muscular palatal and post-lingual organ, hypertrophied lower pharyngeal jaws that masticate against the base of the neurocranium, novel pharyngeal musculature controlling movement of the hypertrophied lower pharyngeal jaws, and in a few species an incredibly complex epibranchial organ used to aggregate filtered phytoplankton. Here, we use the wealth of such trophic novelties in different cypriniform fishes to present case studies in which developmental integration allowed for the origin of morphological innovations. As proposed in case studies 1 and 2 trophic innovations may be associated with both morphological and lineage diversification. Alternatively, case studies 3 and 4 represent a situation where ecological niche was expanded but with no concomitant increase in species diversity. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Most predatory ray-finned fishes swallow their food whole, which can pose a significant challenge, given that prey items can be half as large as the predators themselves. How do fish transport captured food from the mouth to the stomach? Prior work indicates that, in general, fish use the pharyngeal jaws to manipulate food into the esophagus, where peristalsis is thought to take over. We used X-Ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology to track prey transport in channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). By reconstructing the 3D motions of both the food and the catfish, we were able to track how the catfish move food through the head and into the stomach. Food enters the oral cavity at high velocities as a continuation of suction and stops in the approximate location of the branchial basket before moving in a much slower, more complex path toward the esophagus. This slow phase coincides with little motion in the head and no substantial mouth opening or hyoid depression. Once the prey is in the esophagus, however, its transport is surprisingly tightly correlated with gulping motions (hyoid depression, girdle retraction, hypaxial shortening, and mouth opening) of the head. Although the transport mechanism itself remains unknown, to our knowledge, this is the first description of synchrony between cranial expansion and esophageal transport in a fish. Our results provide direct evidence of prey transport within the esophagus and suggest that peristalsis may not be the sole mechanism of esophageal transport in catfish. 
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  4. Abstract

    Integration is an essential feature of complex biomechanical systems, with coordination and covariation occurring among and within structural components at time scales that vary from microseconds to deep evolutionary time. Integration has been suggested to both promote and constrain morphological evolution, and the effects of integration on the evolution of structure likely vary by system, clade, historical contingency, and time scale. In this introduction to the 2019 symposium “Multifunctional Structures and Multistructural Functions,” we discuss the role of integration among structures in the context of functional integration and multifunctionality. We highlight articles from this issue of Integrative and Comparative Biology that explore integration within and among kinematics, sensory and motor systems, physiological systems, developmental processes, morphometric dimensions, and biomechanical functions. From these myriad examples it is clear that integration can exist at multiple levels of organization that can interact with adjacent levels to result in complex patterns of structural and functional phenotypes. We conclude with a synthesis of major themes and potential future directions, particularly with respect to using multifunctionality, itself, as a trait in evolutionary analyses.

     
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