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>On Sat, 17 Feb 1996, Nicholas Longrich wrote
>> A question; would the degree of horizontal vs vertical movement suggest that
>> an ankylosaur would have been aiming mainly at an attacker's legs (with, I
>> suppose, the aim of throwing it off balance) rather than generally flailing
>> away at it (in which case rotation in three dimensions would be more useful)?
>       By "attacker" do you mean a predator? The thing would have been 
>the most useful piece of offensive weaponry an ankylosaur had against a 
>predator, but it seems a good question as to whether it couldn't be used 
>against other ankylosaurs. 

Of course I have no idea (nor has anyone else, I suspect) what might have
attacked an ankylosaur.  However, I would note (without concluding anything
therefrom) that although there are a number of living animals that use their
tails as weapons against other species, be they predators or prey (eg
crocodiles, monitor lizards, porcupines) I knw of none that does so against
conspecifics.  I can even suggest a reason for this: attacks against
conspecifics usually involve either chases (which are tricky to do if your
weapon is at the back end instead of up front) or combats in which both
animals are using the same techniques - which, again, normally mewans facing
each other.  I find it a bit hard to imagine two anklosaurs facing away from
each other and flailing away at each other's tails, though I suppose it
might have happened that way.  On the other hand, using the tail against a
predator allows you to keep your head end protected, and a club, aimed at
the lower leg, could be a powerful weapon against a gracile bipedal
predator, either knocking it off its feet or actually breaking a leg bone.
As a crippled predator is a starving predator, I would imagine most such
would be pretty wary about taking an ankylosaur on.  Sharp points aren't
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
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