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Ornithischian cheeks (was Re: Dinosaur Planet, parts 3 & 4)

"Ken Carpenter" <Kcarpenter@dmns.org> wrote:

> One must also be careful in the assumptions made about birds (i.e.,
picking the stand-in). Witmer argued by phyletic bracketing that birds and
crocs lack muscular cheeks, therefore ornithischians lack them as
ll.   --SNIP--

In addition to the excellent points Ken raised, I ask the following:

Are soft tissue features of ornithischian dinosaurs actually constrained by
phylogenetic bracketing that examines extant crocodilians and birds when
ornithischians are not themselves ancestral to birds and the hypothetical
ornithischian features (cheeks of some kind in this case) are derived
characters that may not have been present in the most recent common ancestor
of ornithischians and birds (presumably the most basal dinosaur)?

"Dino Guy" Ralph W. Miller III
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
proud member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology