The cerato-mandibular ligament: a key functional trait for grazing in damselfishes (Pomacentridae)
MILTON ALEJANDRO SPANOPOULOS ZARCO
EDUARDO FRANCISCO BALART PAEZ
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"The success of a taxonomic group can be promoted by a key character that allows the group to interact with its environment in a different way and to potentially occupy new niches. The Pomacentridae possess a synapomorphic trait, the cerato-mandibular (c-md) ligament, which joins the hyoid bar to the inner part of the lower jaw. It has previously been shown that this ligament is a key trait in communication in damselfishes because it enables them to slam the oral jaws shut causing teeth collision and sound production. This specific behavior of mouth closing could, however, also be used for other tasks, such as feeding. Many territorial damselfishes are referred to as farmers, due to their ability to manage algal crops on which they feed. This study hypothesizes that the c-md ligament provides an advantage for grazing filamentous algae, and should thus be considered a key trait for farming behavior."
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