Hornyhead turbot, Pleuronichthys verticalis (Pleuronectiformes: Pleuronectidae), are morphologically asymmetrical teleosts with substantial bilateral asymmetry in the neurocranium, suspensorium and anterior jaws. In order to quantify the kinematics of prey capture and to test for functional bilateral asymmetries, four individuals of this species were video-taped feeding using a high-speed video system at 200 fields s-1. Frame-by-frame analysis revealed several features not commonly found in prey capture behavior of previously studied ray-finned fishes. These features include (1) extreme lateral compression of the suspensorium and opercular series prior to mouth opening, indicating the consistent presence of a preparatory phase during feeding, (2) apparent dissociation of hyoid retraction and lower jaw depression, (3) prolonged hyoid retraction throughout much of the feeding cycle, and (4) concomitant dorsal rotation of the neurocranium and closing of the jaws. P. verticalis also demonstrate a significant degree of functional bilateral asymmetry during prey capture. When approaching prey, fish flex their heads towards the ocular (anatomically the right) side of the body. During prey capture, their jaws bend out of the midline towards the blind (left) side. Comparisons of the displacement and timing for movements of homologous anatomical features on the ocular and blind sides of the head reveal that maximum gape is always larger on the blind side of the head than on the ocular side. In contrast, other kinematic variables measured are similar on both sides of the head. These results suggest that P. verticalis possess unique functional features of prey capture behavior and that morphological bilateral asymmetry of the head and jaws is associated with, and perhaps causally related to, the functional bilateral asymmetry present during feeding.

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