Sunday, February 12, 2012

Floating Jaws

For many of the creatures of Skatha "floating" jaws are common. The term "floating" refers to how the jaws are not attached to the skull by bones or joints, but by muscles and tendons. They swing out to the side, rather than up and down like vertebrate Terran lifeforms. The floating jaws are highly flexible and in some species cases used to delicately manipulate objects (such as nest building, preening, or pulling prey from crevices).

In most cases the floating jaws attach along a boney wedge on the underside of the skull as well as to small scapula like bones that sit on either side of the neck spine. This allows the jaws to have a wider range of motion and finesse.

The types of floating jaws seen on Skatha vary greatly in size, shape, and use. The appearance and purposes of the jaws depend greatly on the diet of the animal as well as its habitat. For many larger grazers the jaws are large and wide at the tips, allowing the animal to pull more vegetation into its mouth. The grazers' jaws are often flexible and jointed, this lets the grazer flip large jarfuls of plant matter into its pouch like mouth.

Predatory jaws are often stiffer than the herbivores' as there is much more stress put on them during a hunt. In many actively hunting predators the joints in jaws are fused and can only swing open and shut. The jaws are still flexible at the base, but if they were to have the loose jointed anatomy of the herbivores it would be much easier to snap off a jaw or render one useless. To further avoid the issue of broken or dislocated mandibles, most land predators have evolved to have much shorter, stockier jaws. This also gives them a stronger, more formidable bite.

[ I will post information on the jaws of the more specialized animals of Skatha once I have some detailed diagrams to go along with them, I find that pure information is hard to visualize at times ]

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