New paper in Journal of Anatomy


Digital dissection of the head of the frogs Calyptocephalella gayi and Leptodactylus pentadactylus with emphasis on the feeding apparatus

Kunisch S, Blüml  V, Schwaha T, Beisser CJ, Handschuh S & Lemell P. 2021
J Anat. Published online 13 March 2021


Micro‐computed tomography (microCT) of small animals has led to a more detailed and more accurate three‐dimensional (3D) view on different anatomical structures in the last years. Here, we present the cranial anatomy of two frog species providing descriptions of bone structures and soft tissues of the feeding apparatus with comments to possible relations to habitat and feeding ecology. Calyptocephalella gayi, known for its aquatic lifestyle, is not restricted to aquatic feeding but also feeds terrestrially using lingual prehension. This called for a detailed investigation of the morphology of its feeding apparatus and a comparison to a fully terrestrial species that is known to feed by lingual prehension such as Leptodactylus pentadactylus. These two frog species are of similar size, feed on similar diet but within different main habitats. MicroCT scans of both species were conducted in order to reconstruct the complete anatomical condition of the whole feeding apparatus for the first time. Differences in this regard are evident in the tongue musculature, which in L. pentadactylus is more massively built and with a broader interdigitating area of the two main muscles, the protractor musculus genioglossus and the retractor musculus hyoglossus. In contrast, the hyoid retractor (m. sternohyoideus) is more massive in the aquatic species C. gayi. Moreover, due to the different skull morphology, the origins of two of the five musculi adductores vary between the species. This study brings new insights into the relation of the anatomy of the feeding apparatus to the preferred feeding method via 3D imaging techniques. Contrary to the terrestrially feeding L. pentadactylus, the skeletal and muscular adaptations of the aquatic species C. gayi provide a clear picture of necessities prescribed by the habitat. Nevertheless, by keeping a certain amount of flexibility of the design of its feeding apparatus, C. gayi is able to employ various methods of feeding.