Bradley Scott, Cheryl A. D. Wilga, and Elizabeth L. Brainerd
White-spotted bamboo sharks, Chiloscyllium plagiosum, generate strong suction-feeding pressures that rival the highest levels measured in ray-finned fishes. However, the hyostylic jaw suspension of these sharks is fundamentally different from the actinopterygian mechanism, including more mobile hyomandibulae, with the jaws and ceratohyal suspended from the hyomandibulae. Prior studies have proposed skeletal kinematics during feeding in orectolobid sharks from indirect measurements. Here, we tested these hypotheses using XROMM to measure cartilage motions directly. In agreement with prior hypotheses, we found extremely large retraction and depression of the ceratohyal, facilitated by large protraction and depression of the hyomandibula. Somewhat unexpectedly, XROMM also showed tremendous long-axis rotation (LAR) of both the ceratohyal and hyomandibula. This LAR likely increases the range of motion for the hyoid arch by keeping the elements properly articulated through their large arcs of motion. XROMM also confirmed that upper jaw protraction occurs before peak gape, similarly to actinopterygian suction feeders, but different from most other sharks in which jaw protrusion serves primarily to close the mouth. Early jaw protraction results from decoupling the rotations of the hyomandibula, with much of protraction occurring before peak gape with the other rotations lagging behind. In addition, the magnitudes of retraction and protraction of the hyoid elements are independent of the magnitude of depression, varying the shape of the mouth among feeding strikes. Hence, the large variation in suction-feeding behavior and performance may contribute to the wide dietary breadth of bamboo sharks.