Odontophoral cartilages are located in the molluscan buccal mass and support the movement of the radula during feeding. The structural diversity of odontophoral cartilages is currently known only from limited taxa, but this information is important for interpreting phylogeny and for understanding the biomechanical operation of the buccal mass. Caenogastropods exhibit a wide variety of feeding strategies, but there is little comparative information on cartilage morphology within this group. The morphology of caenogastropod odontophoral cartilages is currently known only from dissection and histology, although preliminary results suggest that they may be structurally diverse. A comparative morphological survey of 18 caenogastropods and three noncaenogastropods has been conducted, sampling most major caenogastropod superfamilies. Three-dimensional models of the odontophoral cartilages were generated using X-ray microscopy (micro-CT) and reconstruction by image segmentation. Considerable morphological diversity of the odontophoral cartilages was found within Caenogastropoda, including the presence of thin cartilaginous appendages, asymmetrically overlapping cartilages, and reflexed cartilage margins. Many basal caenogastropod taxa possess previously unidentified cartilaginous support structures below the radula (subradular cartilages), which may be homologous to the dorsal cartilages of other gastropods. As subradular cartilages were absent in carnivorous caenogastropods, adaptation to trophic specialization is likely. However, incongruence with specific feeding strategies or body size suggests that the morphology of odontophoral cartilages is constrained by phylogeny, representing a new source of morphological characters to improve the phylogenetic resolution of this group. J. Morphol.
Keywords: comparative morphology; evolution; micro-computed tomography; Vetigastropoda; Neritimorpha