, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 103–118 | Cite as

Transmission of force and velocity in the feeding mechanisms of labrid fishes (Teleostei, Perciformes)

  • M. W. Westneat
Original Article


The feeding mechanisms of four species of the teleostean family Labridae (Cheilinus fasciatus, C. trilobatus, Oxycheilinus bimaculatus, and O. unifasciatus) were modeled using four-bar linkage theory from mechanical engineering. The predictions of four-bar linkage models regarding the kinematics of feeding were compared to the movements observed with high speed cinematography (200 frames/s). A four-bar linkage was an accurate model of the mechanism by which upper jaw protrusion, maxillary rotation, and gape increase occur in each species. A four-bar mechanism of hyoid depression was an accurate predictor of hyoid depression when simultaneous cranial elevation and sternohyoideus contraction were simulated. Morphometrics of the linkage systems of the jaws and hyoid were collected for 12 labrid species. These data were used to calculate the transmission of force and motion through the musculoskeletal linkages. Several measures of mechanical advantage and displacement advantage were compared, including both traditional lever ratios and transmission coefficients of four-bar linkages. Alternative designs of the feeding mechanisms maximize force or velocity for the capture of different prey types. High velocity transmission of both the jaw and hyoid systems is characteristic of those species that feed on evasive prey, whereas species that feed on benthic invertebrates favor increased force transmission in both systems. Quantitative models of biomechanical systems supply criteria for functionally relevant morphometrics, and aid in calculating the capacity for transmission of force and velocity in musculoskeletal systems.


Lever Ratio Feeding Mechanism Velocity Transmission High Speed Cinematography Speed Cinematography 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. W. Westneat
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Evolutionary and Environmental-BiologyField Muscum of Natural HistoryChicagoUSA

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