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Re: tails for defense

>If the  defensive weapons of stegosaurids were that useless the group would 
>never have gotten off the ground evolutionarily speaking.  They were around 
>for a long time, extinct today or no.
>Ronald I. Orenstein

The remark about it causing extinction was mostly tongue-in-cheek, although I
do think that the ceratopsians and ankylosaurs that replaced them were better
adapted to defend themselves from carnosaurs.

>  For that matter a number of living 
>animals are quite successful at using their tails as weapons: crocodilians, 
>porcupines, large monitor lizards, even bees and scorpions.

The difference is that crocodiles are well able to defend themselves at both
ends. Monitor lizards, likewise, are probably more dangerous for their bite than
for their tail. Porcupines are well protected all over and do not rely solely
on a tail weapon for defense, like a stegosaur would have to. Scorpions attack
with their tails, but because the tail is bent over the head, they attack what
they can clearly see in front of them. Bees, because of their size, don't have
to worry about being attacked from the front. A stegosaur, on the other hand,
looks like it could not turn its head around far enough to see what is directly
behind it, and is totally defenseless in a head-on attack. Thus if I were an
allosaur, my strategy would be to approach stealthily from directly behind, then
charge by and seize the stegosaurs head in my jaws before he even saw me.

Scott Horton
Geophysicst/Computer Programmer