Finding the weakest link: Mechanical sensitivity in a fish cranial linkage system

A. Baumgart, P. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the physical mechanics behind morphological systems can offer insights into their evolution. Recent work on linkage systems in fish and crustaceans has suggested that the evolution of such systems may depend on mechanical sensitivity, where geometrical changes to different parts of a biomechanical system have variable influence on mechanical outputs. While examined at the evolutionary level, no study has directly explored this idea at the level of the mechanism. We analyse the mechanical sensitivity of a fish cranial linkage to identify the influence of linkage geometry on the kinematic transmission (KT) of the suspensorium, hyoid and lower jaw. Specifically, we answer two questions about the sensitivity of this linkage system: (i) What changes in linkage geometry affect one KT while keeping the other KTs constant? (ii) Which geometry changes result in the largest and smallest changes to KT? Our results show that there are ways to alter the morphology that change each KT individually, and that there are multiple ways to alter a single link that have variable influence on KT. These results provide insight into the morphological evolution of the fish skull and highlight which structural features in the system may have more freedom to evolve than others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number181003
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Kinematics
  • Linkages
  • Modelling
  • Suction feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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