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Dentitional specialisations for durophagy in the Common Wolf snake, Lycodon aulicus capucinus

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The Common Wolf snake, Lycodon aulicus capucinus, is a species known to feed on durophagous prey such as skinks. Here we examine in detail the dentitional morphology of L. aulicus capucinus to see whether it possesses morphological specialisations for durophagy comparable to those found in other squamates. We find that L. aulicus capucinus has greatly enlarged anterior maxillary teeth, followed by a large diastema. At the diastema, the maxilla is significantly arched. The diastema is followed by a row of small, closely-packed teeth. Finally, after a short second diastema are enlarged, but ungrooved posterior maxillary fangs, with the posterior surfaces modified into blades. We propose that this dentition helps L. aulicus capucinus to ingest hard-bodied skinks in several ways: The enlarged anterior teeth and arched maxilla encircle the prey during biting, preventing it from being squeezed out of the mouth anteriorly, the short, spatulate teeth may catch under the scales of the prey, preventing escape during swallowing, and the bladelike posterior fang may slice through the hard, cycloid scales of the prey.


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