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A Tale of Two Tails
Perhaps the best reason that we have for thinking that Hadrosaurs did not use
their tails much in defense, especially against large carnivores, is this: if it
were effective to any degree at all, there would exist a constant selective
pressure for improvements in its disabling capacity to any degree consistent
with the presumed limited functional demands existing otherwise for Hadrosaur
tails (balance + ?). A heavy tail like an AnkylosaurÕs is not necessarily the
outcome of such pressures -- bony serrations or other light weight augmentations
are quite conceivable.
Whacking large carnivores, broom-like, with the tail as a whole unit is another
possibility that has been raised. The tendon-like stiffening rod running down
the tail might have had enough lateral flexibility to give some slight whipping
motion to the tail. However, the problem is that collisions are in some sense
symmetrical: is a Hadrosaur tail really tougher than a Tyrannosaur leg? Whose
bones are going to crack first? Where does the strongest muscle-padding lie, in
the Tyrannosaur leg, or the Hadrosaur tail? Also, how many shots does a
Hadrosaur get? If a backside mobbing were conjectured, the complexity of
coordinating such a blind-side defense would make it prima facie unlikely.
Science red in tooth and claw.