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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".