The rostral micro-tooth morphology of blue marlin, Makaira nigricans

Korbinian Pacher, Michael Breuker, Matthew J. Hansen, Ralf H. J. M. Kurvers, Jan Häge, Felicie Dhellemmes, Paolo Domenici, John F. Steffensen, Stefan Krause, Thomas Hildebrandt, Guido Fritsch, Pascal Bach, Philippe S. Sabarros, Paul Zaslansky, Kristin Mahlow, Johannes Müller, Rogelio González Armas, Hector Villalobos Ortiz, Felipe Galván-Magaña, Jens Krause

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review


Billfish rostra potentially have several functions; however, their role in feeding is unequivocal in some species. Recent work linked morphological variation in rostral micro-teeth to differences in feeding behavior in two billfish species, the striped marlin (Kajikia audax) and the sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus). Here, we present the rostral micro-tooth morphology for a third billfish species, the blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), for which the use of the rostrum in feeding behavior is still undocumented from systematic observations in the wild. We measured the micro-teeth on rostrum tips of blue marlin, striped marlin, and sailfish using a micro–computed tomography approach and compared the tooth morphology among the three species. This was done after an analysis of video-recorded hunting behavior of striped marlin and sailfish revealed that both species strike prey predominantly with the first third of the rostrum, which provided the justification to focus our analysis on the rostrum tips. In blue marlin, intact micro-teeth were longer compared to striped marlin but not to sailfish. Blue marlin had a higher fraction of broken teeth than both striped marlin and sailfish, and broken teeth were distributed more evenly on the rostrum. Micro-tooth regrowth was equally low in both marlin species but higher in sailfish. Based on the differences and similarities in the micro-tooth morphology between the billfish species, we discuss potential feeding-related rostrum use in blue marlin. We put forward the hypothesis that blue marlin might use their rostra in high-speed dashes as observed in striped marlin, rather than in the high-precision rostral strikes described for sailfish, possibly focusing on larger prey organisms.

TidskriftJournal of Fish Biology
Sidor (från-till)713-722
Antal sidor10
StatusPublicerad - mars 2024
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 1181 Ekologi, evolutionsbiologi
  • 1184 Genetik, utvecklingsbiologi, fysiologi
  • 3111 Biomedicinska vetenskaper

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