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Morphological specializations in heterocongrinae (Anguilliformes : Congridae) related to burrowing and feeding
De Schepper, N.; De Kegel, B.; Adriaens, D. (2007). Morphological specializations in heterocongrinae (Anguilliformes : Congridae) related to burrowing and feeding. J. Morphol. 268(4): 343-356.
In: Journal of Morphology. The Wistar Institute Press/Wiley: Philadelphia, Pa . ISSN 0362-2525; e-ISSN 1097-4687, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    osteology; mycology; burrowing lifestyle; cranial morphology; tail

Authors  Top 
  • De Schepper, N.
  • De Kegel, B., more
  • Adriaens, D., more

    The remarkable lifestyle of heterocongrines has drawn the attention of many authors in the past, though no or little attention has been paid to the morphology of the tail and the head of these species. In order to examine the true nature of possible morphological specializations of the head and tail and their relation to their tail-first burrowing habit and/or feeding mode, a detailed myological and osteological study of Heteroconger hassi and Heteroconger longissimus was performed. The osteological similarities of the cranial skeleton between H. hassi and H. longissimus are striking. Most of the cranial muscles show no variation in presence, insertion or origin between these two species except for the adductor mandibulae complex, the adductor hyomandibulae and the intermandibularis. The adductor mandibulae complex is small, compared to that of other anguilliform species, and is probably related to their suction-dominated feeding mode and a diet, comprising mainly small, soft prey items. Heterocongrinae have undergone several morphological specializations in the tail for their tail-first burrowing lifestyle. The skeleton and musculature of the tail of H. hassi and H. longissimus are similar. In both species the caudal skeleton is highly reduced and fortified, forming a firm, pointed burrowing tool. Intrinsic caudal musculature is reduced and some muscles (interradials, supracarinalis) are even absent.

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