Researchers recently discovered that alligators and related crocodilian species have a previously unknown second jaw joint that helps to distribute the extreme force of their bite, which is the most powerful of any living animal. The finding raises new questions about the evolution of our own meager-by-comparison jaws and could potentially lead to a better understanding of common jaw disorders.
When we discovered that crocs had built this new jaw joint, it made us re-evaluate how mammals actually evolved our jaw joint and reinterpret what we thought we knew about where parts of our jaw joint came from,” said Casey Holliday, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy at the University of Missouri, who led the research. “It’s one of those awesome ‘tapestry of life’ stories that’s given us a new way of looking at 250 million years of evolution for crocs and also 250 million years of independent evolution toward mammals. More.
Translation from the Darwinese: This isn’t especially good news for claims about a seamless transition from reptiles to mammals.
Of course, we do understand why no one got close enough to notice. We await the paper.
Follow UD News at Twitter!
Note: Bite force isn’t everything. The alligator whack! cat succeeds because the ‘gator never seems to learn that weapons (e.g., long rows of teeth) need not be displayed during a confrontation in order to impact it. The cat has few defenses other than climbing trees and hiding in crevices. Almost everything else it does is for show—except for the sharp front claws, which are not revealed until they connect with the sensory system of the alligator.