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Snake Jaws

garter snake with treefrog by Tom Nevins IMG_0030In this photograph taken by Tom Nevins, a Common Gartersnake is swallowing prey — a Gray Treefrog — that is much larger than the snake’s mouth. It can do this because of the structure of its jaws. The quadrate bone, which attaches the upper and lower mandibles, is not rigidly attached. Rather, it pivots, allowing vertical and horizontal rotation of the jaw. In addition, the two pieces of the lower jaw (left and right) are connected in the front of the jaw by an elastic ligament, allowing each side of the lower jaw to move independently. Due to these adaptations, a snake can consume large prey by basically walking over it with its jaws.

6 responses

  1. Cordelia Merritt

    Oh my goodness!! Thanks Cordie

    July 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm

  2. Al Stoops, Nelson NH

    The treefrog looks all puffed up, as if it’s swallowing air in an attempt to be too big for the snake to swallow.

    July 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm

  3. Wow! That little garter snake can take down that rather large frog, how amazing! The explanation is awesome! It’s just smaller nature in our back yards, but it’s exactly like the bigger guys Pythons and what have you! 🙂

    July 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  4. Linda Willson

    Sent from my iPhone

    July 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

  5. Linda Willson

    Sent from my iPad

    July 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm


    Simply amazing!


    July 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

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