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Sauropod Tails (The End)
After hearing many points of views on the issues of Sauropod tails being used
for defense, I felt it is time to set the record straight on the issues, using
brand-new evidence. I will also settle some issues that were brought up about
the use of horns, frills, and clubs in ceratopsians and ankylosaurs. I shall
not name any individuals, I will simply state my case.
1. By studying sauropod bones with computers, we know that sauropods could
whip their tails with 2,000 times more force than a bullwhip. However, the
tail bones appear to be too delicate to be used for physical combat without
major damage to the tail itself.
2. However, a flick of the sauropod tail with a small amount of force could
have produced a sound 'crack' of over an ear-splitting 200 decibels. How many
of you have actually had a bullwhip cracked near you? I'm not talking about
watching an Indiana Jones movie, or seeing one cracked during a circus show.
I'm talking about having one cracked only a foot away from your face, by
someone who truely knows how to use one. I have, and let me tell you
something; even if the whip doesn't hit you, the 'crack' alone is enough to
scare the wits out of you. And THAT was only about 100 decibels. Now, imagine
that whip being a WHOLE lot bigger, 2,000 times more powerful, and creating a
'crack' of over 200 decibels. Believe me, even without physical contact, that
would be enough to scare, maybe even hurt, any hungry predator.
3. Concerning the topic of the dinosaur horns and frills that was brought up
by one of our subscribers, I would like to say this: Forget everything you
know. Forget all images of Triceratops gouging a Tyrannosaur while it tries in
vain to chomp on the neck that is protected by a heavily armored frill. New
evidence suggest that this portrayel is far from the truth. Recent research
has shown that the neck frill of a Triceratops was, in fact, loaded with blood
vessels. These vessels, being so close to the skin, would have made an
excellent air conditioner to protect from overheating. As for the horns, most
people would assume that they were used as weapons. However, new studies
question the dinosaur's ability to utilize them in this funcion. You may be
asking, if the horns weren't weapons, what other purpose could they have
possibly have served. Think CAT WHISKERS. Careful observation shows that the
horns of many ceratopsians extend just as far as the frill does; that is, they
mark the frill boundries. Now, if you had a big frill around your head filled
with sensitive blood vessels that were quite close to the skin, you would want
to protect them. So the horns could have been used to protect not the
dinosaur, but the delicate frill which was both an asset and a vulnerability.
4. The same goes with the anklosaurs. Reseach has shown that the tail club
which a number of anklosaurs possessed was filled with thick blood vessels.
Now, imagine yourself wearing a big, thick, heavy armor coat in the middle of
the summer. It would get QUITE hot. So the tail 'club' would have served as an
excellent air conditioner, especially if being lightly swung in the air. Now,
it you had a tail club filled big blood vessels, would you want to risk
swinging it at enemies. I don't think so.
Now, I should say right now that I am only 16 years old, and am merely an
amatuer paleontologist. However, don't confuse age with knowledge. I read a
great deal (it helps that I have no life).
Hopefully this will be the last posting on this topic. However, knowing human
nature (and how much the James Gurney issue was dragged out), I doubt it will
be. So I'm expecting a good deal of response. Please, take the time to
actually READ this article. I not saying that this is the absolute fact, I am
simply stating new research on the topic.
(P.S. Thanks to Nathan Myhrvold for his work in cyberpaleontology, not to
mention that excellent article in Discover Magazine (November, 1997)
Gratiae, Atque Vale
(Thanks, and Farewell)
"Wizard's First Rule: people are stupid.
People are stupid; given proper motivation,
almost anyone will believe almost anything.
Because people are stupid, they will believe
a lie because they want to believe it's true,
or because they are afraid it might be true.
People's heads are full of knowledge, facts,
and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they
think it all true. People are stupid; they can
only rarely tell the difference between a lie
and the truth, and yet they are confident
they can, and so are all the easier to fool."
Wizard's First Rule