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Comparative cranio‐mandibular myology of three species of Batoidea from the Southern Gulf of California, Mexico

Dec 8, 2022

The mandibular apparatus of batoids (skates, electric rays, guitarfishes, stingrays, and sawfishes) is composed of a few skeletal elements to which the muscular bundles, responsible for all movements involved in the feeding mechanism, are inserted. The description of the different mandibular morphologies can help to understand the different feeding guilds in this group. In this study, we examined the cranio‐mandibular myology of adult Rostroraja velezi, Narcine entemedor, and Zapteryx exasperata, three species of rays that coexist in the Southern Gulf of California, Mexico. This study described the muscles on the ventral and the dorsal surfaces for each species, identified the origins and insertions of these muscles, as well as the general characteristics of muscle morphology. There were 17 and 18 muscle bundles attached to the feeding apparatus, including five on the dorsal surface. Only the levator rostri, which elevates the rostrum during feeding, showed considerable differences in shape and size among species. The muscles of the adductor complex showed the greatest differences in size among the three species. N. entemedor presented the exclusive muscle X in the lower mandibular area and the extreme reduction of the coracohyoideus in the pharyngeal area derived from the absence of the basihyal cartilage. The information generated in our study supports the morphological specialization of electric rays (N. entemedor) for an almost exclusive suction feeding strategy. These species are nondurophagous rays and show a low variability in the number of mandibular muscles. The electric ray, N. entemedor, shows the greatest mandibular morphological variability, where the adductor complex is reduced and the muscles of the pharyngeal area are the largest, except for the coracohyoideus muscle, which is extremely reduced due to the absence of the basal cartilage. In addition, the presence of the depressor mandibularis muscle was described in all species.

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