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Quite true, Allan:

    You said:

>   Hippos do show skeletal adaptations for a semi-aquatic lifestyle.  I
>don't have a ref for this, but I heard a talk (5+ years ago) from a
>paleo-hippo worker.  She was able to determine relative terrestrial vs.
>aquatic lifestyles by changes, primarily in the feet, between species.
>(Not an easy job, but certainly do-able - just as many of us can easily
>distinguish a hadrosaur vert from a crocodile vert - and I'm just an
>at it).

    Yet, the ability to discover new understanding about almost anything is
influenced, and often aided, by what one already knows about the subject.

    Since the paleo-hippo worker already knew (from life observations,
instead of fossil studies) that MODERN HIPPOS are semi-aquatic, could it be
that knowledge of modern hippo life styles (and their bone and tooth
structure) was a considerable factor in recognizing semi-aquatic trails in
the fossils of comparatively ancient hippos?

    Because we have no highly accurate life-study analogs to sauropods,
could one's ability to recognize semi-aquatic traits in sauropod skeletal
and dental fossils be considerably diminished?

    Thanks for your insight, Allan.

    Ray Stanford