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Re: WHISKER PITS AND EARLY WHALES



On Thu, 6 Jun 1996, Darren Naish wrote:

> WHISKER PITS
> 
> Several popular accounts discussing therapsids mention the presence of
> 'whisker pits' - little foramina on the snout bones that prove the
> presence of vibrissae.  They have been reported in _Cynognathus_ and
> _Prebolosodon_ for sure, and some workers have gone as far as citing
> them as evidence for a furry pelt in these animals. This in itself
> seems reasonable _if_ it can be shown that 'whisker pits' are really
> proof of whiskers: and I recall reading that such a correlation could
> not be made in the anatomy of certain seals. If anyone knows any more
> on this, or could help with information on the presence or absence of
> whisker pits and/or vibrissae in any tetrapod, please do tell. Many
> thanks.

I think it was an e-mail of mine that you might be remembering. After 
hearing a seminar about the function of vibrissae in modern rats, I 
broached the subject of therapsid "whisker pits" with the speaker (can't 
remember who he was). Thing is vibrissae dont leave pits on the skull! 
Have a look at any mammal skull. Not even in seals where the vibrissae are 
so well developed they are like porcupine quills. Those pits in 
Cynognathus et al could just as easily be foramina for supplying blood 
vessels and nerves to an enlaged set of snout and lip mucles.

Adam Yates

"Does anybody feel like toast?"