Master's Defensio


Tabea Kinigadner

Cranial kinesis of the leopard gecko Eublepharis macularius


"Show me how you eat, and I tell you how your skull moves "

Advisor: Patrick Lemell

Master's Defensio

Monday, January 30th 2023, 11:30 am CET
SR 1.2, UBB
Djerassiplatz 1, 1030 Vienna


Looking at the intracranial movements during food consumption, one speaks about cranial kinesis. These movements within the skull of vertebrates occur independently of the mandible, the middle ear and the hypobranchial skeleton. Regarding these movements, there are some main terms related to the cranial kinesis of Squamata including mesokinesis, metakinesis, amphikinesis and streptostyly. The present study investigated intracranial movements in the gecko Eublepharis macularius. Looking on morphological and experimental data based on high speed cinematography and 3D visualization of microCT scans and image segmentation, we compared two adult males, two adult females and two subadults (male and female) while fed with two different prey items (Acheta domesticus and the wax moth larvae of Galleriinae). Mesokinesis was detected through high speed cinematography in all three groups with both prey items during prey capture, oral manipulation and transportation. The data moreover indicate a high potential for amphikinesis and streptostyly. The comparison between the prey items showed differences in the duration and speed of the feeding cycle. In addition, the two prey items affect differently the intracranial movement patterns. Comparing the three groups, the subadults showed the highest flexibility at the fronto-parietal suture (mesokinetic angle). Variations between the three groups regarding the speed and duration of each cycle could be detected too. The muscle volume analysis showed that the external and posterior adductor muscles, form together the biggest muscle in the skull. Allover, the presented data show a that E. macularius is a highly kinetic species within the basal group of Gekkota.