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Cheekless and lipless dinosaurs -- a haven for germs?
I recently pondered the problem of lipless theropods being susceptible to
air-to-mouth microbe invasion. I believe that my consideration of this
issue arose from a comment by Stephen Czerkas at his presentation on
"Reconstructing Dinosaurs" given at the Kimball Art Center in Park City,
Utah on January 29, 1994. But I just received an off-line post from a
physician who questioned this being a problem. It would also seem that
Czerkas himself has modified his view that lips are necessary, as he
presented a talk at the last SVP which brings into question the correctness
of applying cheeks and lips to ornithischians.
So here goes: do cheekless and lipless _terrestrial_ animals have a
hygienic selection pressure for lips or cheeks, or is this no problem? Is
there a doctor in the house?
I have been a mouth breather myself for much of my life, and the main
warning I've received from my dentist is that this increases the build-up
of plaque and the incidence of gum disease and tooth decay. Then again,
the carrion-eating theropods (notice that I did not say "exclusively
carrion-eating") probably didn't brush, floss, or use an antibacterial
mouthwash... Of course, vultures do just fine, in spite of their (how to
put it?) less-than-fastidious habits.
-- Ralph Miller III firstname.lastname@example.org
I suppose that Mr. Czerkas will now have to grind off the cheeks from his
sculptures and extend the beaks.