Abstract

Study of the functional morphology of the temporal region of the Rhynchocephalia by means of the analysis of jaw musculature and bone structures in living lepidosaurians suggests that the streptostyly of the quadrate is a derived state in the Lepidosauria and that its origin may have been coupled with the loss of the M. pterygoideus atypicus. Further, this analysis supports the view that the retention of a fixed quadrate in early rhynchocephalians with an incomplete lower temporal bar may have been required for precise tooth occlusion and suggests that a solid lower temporal bar in later rhynchocephalians may have served as a brace to support the lateral side of the quadrate condyle and thus prevent it from twisting anteriorly rather than posteriorly during the jaw cycle. It is hypothesized that a common ancestor shared by the Rhynchocephalia and Squamata had a skull with an incomplete lower temporal bar but a rigid quadrate. It is also hypothesized that the presence of the anterior portion of the M. pterygoideus (MPT) is a primitive state, and that the size of the pterygoid flange may have been a good indicator of the presence of the anterior portion of the MPT in fossil reptiles. As in Sphenodon, if the mandible is able to move anteroposteriorly, it must retract first during the jaw cycle in those reptiles in which a pterygoid flange is retained.

You do not currently have access to this article.