Mechanisms of tongue protraction and narial closure in the marine toad Bufo marinus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electromyography, kinematic analysis, muscle stimulation and denervation techniques were used to investigate the muscular mechanisms of narial closure during breathing and of tongue protraction during prey capture in the marine toad Bufo marinus. Toads were video-taped during breathing and feeding under a variety of conditions: before surgery, after unilateral or bilateral denervation of the M. submentalis, and after unilateral or bilateral denervation of the Mm. genioglossus basalis and medialis. Deeply anesthetized toads were video-taped during stimulation of several cranial muscles, and electromyograms were recorded from the M. submentalis during feeding before and after its denervation. Bufo marinus differs from many other anurans in having a relatively long tongue that experiences large accelerations (>31 g) during protraction. Tongue protraction occurs in two phases: an early phase during which the lingual tip moves upward and forward relative to the mandibular tip as the tongue shortens, and a later phase during which the lingual tip moves downward and forward relative to the mandibular tip as the tongue elongates under its own momentum. Relative to an external reference, the lingual tip follows a straight trajectory from mouth to prey, which depends critically upon precise coordination of tongue and jaw movements. The M. submentalis is necessary for narial closure during breathing, but is unnecessary for normal tongue protraction during feeding. In contrast, the Mm. genioglossus basalis and medialis are necessary for forward movement of the tongue pad over the symphysis. In B. marinus, a simple anatomical change (elongation of the tongue) has functional consequences (inertial elongation) that profoundly affect the mechanisms of neuromuscular control. Though seldom studied, it seems likely that morphological evolution has had a profound influence on mechanisms of motor control in animals generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2511-2529
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume199
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1996

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • breathing
  • Bufo marinus
  • denervation
  • feeding behavior
  • frogs
  • kinematics
  • tongue protraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this