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scaly? skin



Among the exhibits at a large local craft fair is a display of several
exotic types of leather.  Besides the elephant, skate, python, ostrich,
etc., there is a skin of frog leather, from what is clearly a large
frog, roughly 20 cm. square.  It's quite striking, with largish (up to
almost 1 cm. diam.) blobs, and lots of little pebbly blobs too.  The
bigger blobs are concentrated medially, with fewer, smaller ones over
the lateral portions, and no biggies on what would have been the frog's
underparts.  It appears that the outer surfaces of the limbs were
covered with moderately-large blobs, if I read the geography of the
skin properly.  The little pebbly blobs fill the spaces between the
larger blobs medially, and where there are few large blobs the little
ones fall into vaguely-rectangular irregular patterns, right down to
the edges of the belly leather.  Couldn't see any pattern to the big
blobs, apart from the aforementioned clustering toward the midline. 
The overall effect looked like a scaly skin designed by someone
hostile to precise repetition.

So, finally to the obvious question:  how certain are we that the
blobby surface of ornithischian skin impressions represents scales,
rather than glandular skin?  The ornithischian bits I've seen (mostly
in tiny pictures) looked quite different, but the frog leather is
still the closest I've seen yet.  And it's possible that there might
have been more resemblance if the skin hadn't been stretched for
tanning.  (However, I don't think I'll try suggesting that
Protoceratops et al had to keep their skins damp...) 

Pat

patg@vax2.concordia.ca