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Re: A Tale of Two Tails



I said in part: 

"...  Whacking large carnivores, broom-like, with the tail as a whole unit is 
another possibility that has been raised.  ...  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? ... "

Rich Travsky's reply: 

"Defense should not be thought of strictly in terms of breaking a limb (TRex
leg in this case). A simple knock down may be all that's needed, the 
hadrosaur then utilizing this opportunity to run while the rex tries to
pick itself up. Anything that slows down the predator can be translated
into escape and survival."

In order for this to work, the Hadrosaur would have to turn its back on the 
Tyrannosaur (etc.) and await the attack, since a bipedal animal running full 
tilt can't use its balancing organ this way without itself loosing its footing. 
And there is the matter of leverage: to execute a good swat, the Hadrosaur would
have to remain relatively stationary.  Now just standing there waiting for T. 
rex to approach at the right angle, would probably lead to more fatalities 
rather than less.  However, if the flow were bone-cracking, disabling the large 
carnivore, then an intimidation factor would come into play which might deter 
them from attacking all but the smallest and most disabled individuals.  
However, it is precisely this that seems so unlikely.  In any case, I wouldn't 
want to be in the shoes of a 10 year old kid 30 seconds after he knocked Arnold 
Schwartzeneger off his feet and took off running.  

Rich Travsky adds: "I recall, from a nature show, an instance where a zebra, 
chased by a lion, broke the lion's lower jaw while kicking with its hind legs. 
This lucky shot slowed this lion down for sure! (I can't recall what happened
to the zebra, tho, probably killed by other lions.)"  

This happens fairly often.  Hooves are an intimidation factor: if the zebra herd
remains steadfast, lions will generally not attack; they like a nice stampede.  
Zebras do not have the intellectual resources to appreciate that panic is their 
downfall.  However, see my post "Re: Hadrosaur defense".  

Richard Dieterle