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Re: Pleurocoelus question

Ray and  Steve,
>      If I were betting on the matter, I would take pretty large odds that 
>  star-shaped section is NOT unique to the Maryland sauropods (even as their
>  external form is not unique),

It isn't and that was my point! There is no visible distinction that can be 
drawn from any of these teeth from anywhere that we have just discussed.

 but feel that comparing it to the
>  cross-section of sauropod teeth from elsewhere (including Texas, if they 
>  available) would be a worthwhile undertaking that could settle the matter 
>  whether the Maryland sauropod(s) are different in that particular respect.

To what end? Externally the teeth are virtually identical thus internally, if 
the x-sections were made at the "exact" same points on all specimens in 
question, you would still have the star-shaped x-section. And even if there 
were any statistically significant differences in star morphology, I doubt 
they would be taxonomically significant. It sheds no new information as to 
the owner of the teeth. Wear facets may help elucidate feeding mechanics and 
tooth occlusion but I doubt enough to tie to a particular taxon and you would 
need allot of specimens for a meaningful study just as you would for a 
x-section study. 

Way to many to destroy (and way to few available) in the latter case. We NEED 
diagnostic bones and associated rami with teeth still in them!

>  So far as I know, no one has done that, but Tom may know more certainly
>  about it.

I am not aware of any.

  If -- and that's a big if -- the pulp shaped cross-section of the
>  Maryland sauropod tooth should prove unique when compared to those from
>  elsewhere, then it seems to me that the person who makes that examination
>  would have a find of substantial importance and a feather in his or her
>  scientific hat (to use a figure of speech).

See above. There are not that many teeth from all localities to (IMHO) 
conduct a meaningful study let alone to essentially destroy.

A CT scan might be an alternative but that's a wild guess. And the expense at 
procuring and scanning so many teeth, to me at least, is not scientifically 
justified. - At this point in time.


Thomas R. Lipka
Paleontological/Geological Studies