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Re: Diplodocid whip-tails

Dann Pigdon wrote:
> I read an article in a newpaper recently about a computer
> scientist (Dr Nathan Myhrvoid) who suggested that diplodicid
> tails were actually used as giant bull whips to make loud
> cracking sounds. Does anyone else find this unlikely? The end
> of a whip usually has to be replaced occationally because of
> the damage caused by it breaking the sound barrier. Unless
> sauropods had a very high pain threshold and could regrow the
> ends of their tails, I imagine attempting to crack their tails
> like a whip would be a painful and damaging exercise.
> Getting back to that whole prehensile tail thing again, I could
> see how such a device would be useful for a sauropod. The Australian
> bettong, a small relative of the kangaroo, uses its prehensile tail
> to gather nesting material for its underground burrow. Given how
> dangerous it may have been for a sauropod to lower its relatively
> defenseless head to within theropod grabbing distance, I would
> imagine being able to use the tail to gather nesting material, or
> whatever, would have been useful. This is just idle speculation of
> course, but it may explain the thin whip-like ends of some
> sauropod tails better than them being used to break the sound barrier.
> Bakker once suggested that sauopods may have had trunks, although
> not seriously if I remember correctly. Could the "trunk" have actually
> been at the other end?
> --
> ____________________________________________________
>         Dann Pigdon
>         Melbourne, Australia
>         Dinosaur Reconstructions:
>         http://www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/4459/
>         Australian Dinosaurs:
>         http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj
> ____________________________________________________
Very interesting idea!  The article was(I believe) also in Discover
magazine recently, and, according to the author, the natural position of
diplodicid necks was pretty low. As you said, with heads low, wouldnt
they be an easy target for Theropods?