The ability of Perciform fishes to protrude their jaw has likely been critical to the trophic diversification of this group, which includes approximately 20% of all vertebrates. The length of the ascending process of the premaxilla is thought to influence the maximum extent that cichlids and other Perciforms protrude their oral jaw. Using a combination of morphometrics, kinematics, and new phylogenetic hypotheses for 20 Heroine cichlid species, we tested the evolutionary relationship between the length of the premaxillary ascending process and maximum jaw protrusion. In this clade, the length of the ascending process of the premaxilla ranged from 11.6-32.7% with respect to standard length whereas maximum jaw protrusion ranged from 3.5-23.4% with respect to standard length. The evolutionary relationships among the Heroine cichlids obtained from the genetic partitions cytochrome b, S7, and RAG1 showed limited concordance. However, correlations between the length of the ascending process and maximum jaw protrusion were highly significant when examined as independent contrasts using all three topologies. Evolutionary change in the length of the ascending process of the premaxilla is likely critical for determining the amount of jaw protrusion in Perciform groups such as cichlid fishes.
- Adaptive radiation
- Prey capture