Kinematics of prey capture in the tailed frog Ascaphus truei (Anura: Ascaphidae)


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The kinematics of prey capture by Ascaphus truei was investigated. High‐speed films (100 fps) of 13 successful and one unsuccessful prey capture sequences from six adult frogs were analysed. Ascaphus, the sister group of all living frogs, shares several aspects of feeding kinematics, including rotation of the tongue pad about the mandibular symphysis and mandibular bending during mouth opening and closing, with more derived frogs such as Bufo marinus. The times required for tongue retraction, mouth opening and closing are similar in Ascaphus and Bufo. However, because Bufo is much larger and protracts its tongue much farther than Ascaphus, the velocities of tongue retraction, mouth opening and mouth closing are relatively lower in Ascaphus than in Bufo. Differences in prey capture between Ascaphus and Bufo marinus are (1) the distance of tongue protraction is less in Ascaphus (±0.5 cm) than in Bufo (c. 2 cm); and (2) lunging of the whole body is more pronounced in Ascaphus. Prey capture is highly variable in Ascaphus. An intraoral transport sequence is sometimes (7 of 14 observations) inserted into the prey capture cycle before the completion of mouth closing. The gape cycles range from 80–150 ms for sequences with no oral transport and from 130–280 ms for sequences with oral transport. Also, the time required for tongue retraction is significantly longer in the unsuccessful capture attempt. This variability is generally greater than that observed during prey capture in salamanders, and suggests that frogs and salamanders may differ in the importance of sensory feedback in coordinating prey capture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-307
Number of pages19
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1991


  • Anura
  • Ascaphus
  • feeding behaviour
  • kinematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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