author={Alexander J. Werth},
Abstract Comprehensive morphometric analysis of osteological and necropsy specimens indicates that blunt heads and wide jaws, both of which create a more circular mouth opening and thus improve water flow for suction feeding, are common in Odontoceti and found in all families except freshwater river dolphins (Platanistoidea), which are exclusively long-snouted. Mandibular bluntness, here termed amblygnathy, correlates with dental reduction in odontocetes; there is a further association of… 

Shape analysis of odontocete mandibles: Functional and evolutionary implications

Model goodness‐of‐fit tests indicate that mandibular foramina shapes, which appear conserved, evolved under a selective regime, possibly driven by sound reception requirements across Odontoceti.

Odontocete suction feeding: Experimental analysis of water flow and head shape

  • A. Werth
  • Biology
    Journal of morphology
  • 2006
Small‐gape suction could be used by odontocetes of all head and oral shapes to draw prey sufficiently close to the mouth for suction ingestion or grasping via dentition, and should profit by evolution of a rounder mouth opening through progressive shortening and widening of the rostrum and jaws.

The Cranial Osteology and Feeding Ecology of the Metriorhynchid Crocodylomorph Genera Dakosaurus and Plesiosuchus from the Late Jurassic of Europe

It is hypothesized that trophic specialisation enabled these two large-bodied species to coexist in the same ecosystem and is supported by Plesiosuchus manselii having a very large optimum gape, while Dakosaurus maximus possesses craniomandibular characteristics observed in extant suction-feeding odontocetes.

Enamel Microstructure in Cetacea: a Case Study in Evolutionary Loss of Complexity

Overall, more complex dental structure in extant and extinct cetaceans is associated with smaller, more numerous teeth in taxa that bite or grasp smaller, harder prey with longer, narrower jaws and have more oral processing.

Comparative anatomy and evolutionary history of suction feeding in cetaceans

Qualitative and qualitative hyoid and cranial data from 35 extant and 14 extinct cetacean species are incorporated into a multivariate principal component analysis and comparative phylogenetic analyses that indicate that suction feeding likely evolved once, early in cetACEan evolutionary history.

A toothless dwarf dolphin (Odontoceti: Xenorophidae) points to explosive feeding diversification of modern whales (Neoceti)

It is reported that a new fossil odontocete from the Oligocene of South Carolina that possesses adaptations for suction feeding: toothlessness and a shortened rostrum (brevirostry) and is the earliest obligate suction feeder within the Odontoceti.

A new odontocete (toothed cetacean) from the Early Miocene of Peru expands the morphological disparity of extinct heterodont dolphins

With its large size, robust rostrum and unusual dental morphology, and the absence of conspicuous tooth wear, Inticetus increases the morphological and ecological disparity of Late Oligocene–Early Miocene heterodont odontocetes.

Skull ontogeny and modularity in two species of Lagenorhynchus: Morphological and ecological implications

3D‐anatomical landmarks used to study the skull ontogeny of two closely related species suggest a functional importance of directional asymmetry from the beginning of postnatal life.

A New Beaked Whale (Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) from the Middle Miocene of Peru

Several morphological traits observed in Nazcacetus, including the reduction of teeth, the small temporal fossa, and the large hamular process, suggest that this taxon possessed the suction feeding capacities of Recent ziphiids, a specialization possibly related to the exploitation by the early ziphiid of a new ecological niche.



Can Odontocetes Debilitate Prey with Sound?

The hypothesis is presented that some odontocetes may debilitate prey by use of brief intense sounds, and the forehead sound-beaming anatomy is postulated to allow prey debilitation.

Functional Morphology of the Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) Tongue, with Reference to Suction Feeding

Abstract Gross and microscopic examination of the tongue and hyolingual apparatus of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) revealed numerous dis-tinct differences from those of other toothed

Quantitative anatomical observations on the skeletal and muscular systems of four species of Antarctic seals.

There are several reports in the literature describing the form of bones and muscles in seals (Murie, 1872, 1874; Miller, 1888; Turner, 1888; Howell, 1929). In recent years research activity in and

Form, Function, and Anatomy of Dorudon Atrox (Mammalia, Cetacea): An Archaeocete from the Middle to Late Eocene of Egypt

Reconstructions of the soft anatomy of Dorudon atrox, along with analyses of functional morphology show that D. atrox was a caudally propelled swimmer, much like modem cetaceans.

Functional morphology involved in intraspecific fighting of the beaked whale, Mesoplodon carlhubbsi

The species Mesoplodon carlhubbsi was examined from a structural viewpoint to describe functionally how such scarring may result and indicates that the teeth are used with the mouth closed by bringing the dorsal aspect of the rostrum in contact with the soon to be inflicted whale.

Models of tongue movement in the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)

Three hypothetical models of tongue movement of the walrus during suction feeding are examined and the resistance that the tongue would provide during retraction is calculated using projected tongue areas to provide an estimate of the percent of the total available force that is needed to retract the tongue for each model.

Morphology and kinematics of prey capture in the syngnathid fishes Hippocampus erectus and Syngnathus floridae

These species exhibit the generalized kinematic pattern of prey capture in bony fishes, with head elevation, hyoid depression and mouth opening occurring almost simultaneously, in which prey are captured during a sudden up-swing of the head, which brings the mouth to the prey.

Feeding kinematics of Kogia and Tursiops (Odontoceti: Cetacea): characterization of suction and ram feeding

Negative Kogia RSI values were correlated with increasing maximum gular depression and retraction, wide gape angle, and rapid opening gAPE angle velocity, which support functional hypotheses that odontocetes generate suction by rapid depression of the hyoid and tongue.


Analysis of videotaped feeding sequences provides novel documentation of suction feeding in captive juvenile long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) and shows depression and retraction of the large, piston-like tongue generate negative intraoral pressures for prey capture and ingestion.

Morphological Evidence for the Phylogeny of Cetacea

Many of the clades within Odontoceti in the most parsimonious trees of this study are at odds with recent phylogenetic analyses, indicating that additional analyses, which include molecular and anatomical data as well as extant and extinct taxa, are needed.