Hinged teeth for hard‐bodied prey: a case of convergent evolution between snakes and legless lizards

F. C. Patchell*, R. Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Savitzky (1981) described hinged teeth in several taxa of snakes, and interpreted this type of dentition as an adaptation to feeding on hard‐bodied prey (scincid lizards). We tested this hypothesis by examining the dentition of insectivorous and saurophagous members of the Australian legless lizards, Pygopodidae. Insectivorous taxa (Delma, Pygopus) have peg‐like pleurodont dentition, but the saurophagous Lialis has slender, recurved, sharply‐pointed teeth, like those of many snakes. The teeth of Lialis are ‘hinged’ on their supporting bones: each tooth folds when pressure is applied to its anterior surface, but locks in an erect position when forced from behind, The tooth hinge is probably collagenous, and does not contain elastin. The presence of hinged teeth in Lids, which feeds predominately on scincid lizards, offers strong support for Savitzky's hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of zoology
Volume208
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1986
Externally publishedYes

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