Sexual selection and dynamics of jaw muscle in Tupinambis lizards

Sergio Naretto*, Gabriela Cardozo, Cecilia S. Blengini, Margarita Chiaraviglio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual dimorphism patterns provide an opportunity to increase our understanding of trait evolution. Because selective forces may vary throughout the reproductive period, measuring dimorphism seasonally may be an interesting approach. An increased male head size may be important in intersexual and intrasexual interactions. In Tupinambis lizards, a big head is attributed in part to a large adductor muscle mass. Competition for mating can differ in species with different sex ratio and different degrees of sexual size dimorphism. We examined sexual differences in mass of the pterygoideus muscle, its temporal variation throughout the reproductive period and the relationship between muscle and reproductive condition in Tupinambis merianae and T. rufescens. We characterized sexual size dimorphism and sex ratio in both species. Mature males had larger jaw muscles than mature females in both species, mainly during the reproductive season. The dimorphism in jaw muscle was due to an increase in muscle mass in sexually active males. Seasonal increases in muscle mass and variation between immature and mature individuals suggest that the jaw muscle might be a secondary sexual character. We propose that the pterygoideus muscle may act as a signal of reproductive condition of males because it is associated with testis size and sperm presence. The patterns of sexual dimorphism in jaw muscle in both species were similar; however, the comparison shows how sexual characters remain dimorphic in different competition contexts and in species with different degrees of body size dimorphism. Our results suggest that jaw muscle as sexual character could be influenced by inter- and intrasexual selective pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-200
Number of pages9
JournalEvolutionary Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Pterygoideus muscle
  • Seasonal variation
  • Secondary sexual character
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Tupinambis merianae
  • Tupinambis rufescens


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