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rapid voluntary stomach eversion in a free-living shark

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 October 2005

juerg m. brunnschweiler
Affiliation:
institute of zoology, department of ecology, university of zurich, winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 zurich, switzerland
paul l.r. andrews
Affiliation:
department of basic medical sciences (physiology), st george's hospital medical school, cranmer terrace, london, sw17 0re, uk
emily j. southall
Affiliation:
marine biological association of the united kingdom, the laboratory, citadel hill, plymouth, pl1 2pb, uk
mark pickering
Affiliation:
department of basic medical sciences (physiology), st george's hospital medical school, cranmer terrace, london, sw17 0re, uk
david w. sims
Affiliation:
marine biological association of the united kingdom, the laboratory, citadel hill, plymouth, pl1 2pb, uk

Abstract

video observation of oral gastric eversion in a free-living caribbean reef shark (carcharhinus perezi) shows voluntary gastric eversion followed by retraction not only occurs, but is extremely rapid (lasting ∼0.3 s). eversion may occur by stomach relaxation–oesophageal contraction coupled with increased abdominal pressures to enable prolapse, and retraction by a mechanism analogous to suction feeding. this behaviour provides a ‘cleansing’ function for removing indigestible food particles, parasites or mucus from the stomach lining. sharks, and possibly other animals with similar gut morphologies, may use this technique to help maintain a healthy alimentary tract.

Type
research article
Copyright
© 2005 marine biological association of the united kingdom

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