Cranial kinesis was studied in two species of gekkonid lizard, Gekko gecko and Phelsuma madagascariensis, using cineradiography and electromyography. The skull of these geckoes showed the three types of kinesis described by Versluys at the beginning of this century: streptostyly, mesokinesis and metakinesis. In accordance with the later model of Frazzetta, the skull of these animals can be modelled by a quadratic crank system: when the mouth opens during feeding, the quadrate rotates forward, the palato-maxillary unit is lifted and the occipital unit swings forward. During jaw closing, the inverse movements are observed; during crushing, the system is retracted beyond its resting position. The data gathered here indicate that the coupled kinesis (streptostyly + mesokinesis) is most prominently present during the capture and crushing cycles of feeding and is largely absent during late intraoral transport, swallowing, drinking and breathing. The electromyographic data indicate a consistent pattern of muscular activation, with the jaw opener and pterygoid protractor always active during the fast opening phase, and the jaw closers active during closing and crushing. Our data generally support the model of Frazzetta. Although the data gathered here do not allow speculation on the functional significance of the kinesis, they clearly provide some key elements required for a further investigation of the functional and adaptive basis of the system.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists