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Tongues (was Re: lizard & dino lips)



At 09:05 PM 5/12/97 EDT, Judy Molnar wrote:
>But that brings up another point: what about evidence for dinosaur
>tongues?  If they had jacobson's organs like monitor lizards, they should
>have forked tongues.

Jacobson's organs are very common in amniotes, and not limited to forked
tongue lepidosaurs such as varanids and snakes.

>But if most dinosaurs were more along the avian
>line, they should have very simple, pointed or blunt-end tongues.  Any
>evidence either way?
>
Direct fossil evidence, no?
Phylogenetic evidence, heck yes!!

Forked tongues are restricted to the Lepidosauria among living vertebrates.
Neither of the dinosaurs closest living relatives, their descendants the
birds or their closest living sister group, the crocodilians, have forked
tongues.  Indeed, they have more primitive, pointed/blunt tongues.

Unless dinosaurs evolved a forked tongue convergently with lepidosaurs AND
subsequently lost it somewhere on the ways to birds, they almost certainly
did not have forked tongues.  Given that their is no evidence to the
contrary, the assumption is that nonavian dinosaurian tongues looked like
bird and croc tongues.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661