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Pectoral Fin Morphology: a Simple Relation With Movement Pattern?

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Adaptation of form to function of the pectoral fin is usually straightforward and clear in teleost fishes when the fins are used for special purposes. Adaptations are not obvious when species are compared which predominantly use the pectorals either for manoeuvring or for labriform swimming. Two explanations are possible: 1. The differences in movement patterns between manoeuvring and labriform swimmers originate entirely from a cybernetic level and the fin morphology can therefore be identical. 2. The different functions are related to small morphological differences which thus far have been overlooked. To test this, the pectoral fin morphology of a manoeuvring species, Sarotherodon niloticus (Cichlidae) and of two species showing labriform swimming, Coris formosa and C. julis (Labridae), are compared in detail. The morphological differences between the two Coris species are smaller than the differences between S. niloticus and the two Coris species. It is concluded that the pectoral fin morphology of these three species differs in small details, part of which can be related to differences in fin movement patterns. The cybernetic origin of these differences predominates, supported by only minute morphological adaptations.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. Marine Biology, University of Groningen, P. O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands


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