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Ancient amphibians evolved a bite before migrating to dry land

ts would thus have had to develop the means for chomping prey."

Markey and Marshall first measured the skull roof sutures, those areas where the bones of the skull roof meet, in the living fish Polypterus as it fed. They then analyzed the same cranial junctions in several fossils -- the early amphibian Acanthostega, its fishy ancestor Eusthenopteron, and the extinct terrestrial amphibian Phonerpeton -- to determine how these bones may have moved relative to each other during feeding. By analyzing the tiny forces that the sutures experienced during feeding, such as tension or compression, the researchers could determine how the skull roof likely deformed as the animals ate.

Living fish exhibit an incredible array of tooth and jaw shapes, suggesting that, ironically, direct analysis of fossil jaws would be a less precise means of determining the feeding methods of extinct species, Markey says.

"Analysis of the sutures of the early amphibian species Acanthostega revealed that, while it had many adaptations to an aquatic lifestyle, it was more likely a biter than a sucker," Markey says. "The analysis suggests that amphibians evolved a bite before emerging onto land as fully terrestrial animals."


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Source:Harvard University


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