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RE: spinning stegos

I'm sorry, but I just can't buy that.
I think you're overestimating predator speed, and underestimating the
Stegosaurs. Any creature so slow that a predator could just nip around the
front wouldn't last long enough as a species to leave significant fossil
remains, without being massively armoured.
I'm not talking about distance running here, rather a headlong terrified
dash of probably only tens of meters. Any more than that and the greater
endurance of the predator would give it a huge advantage. 
Think about the way predators attack - they tend not to charge prey at full
speed, but instead sprint at top speed to just outside striking distance,
match pace with the prey for a couple of strides (to size up the best attack
point) and then lunge. If your quarry was waving four - eight hard spikes in
your face, it might make you think again about attacking. A predator needs
to be able to kill again and again with out getting hurt, just to survive.
Put significant danger in the way and the risk becomes too great.
I have no argument that Stego probably could do a quick turn, I think it's
quite likely, especially if combined with a sweep of the tail to get some
momentum up. I just don't think it's a viable defence. An aggressive defence
like that needs to be controlled, which means the creature must be able to
see what's going on. A Stegosaur looking backwards has a huge blindspot. Bad
defence strategy. The vast majority of aggressive defence strategies are
front oriented.


-----Original Message-----
From: joe [mailto:jdaniel@aristotle.net]
Sent: 24 July 1998 15:31
To: John Clavin
Subject: Re: spinning stegos

John Clavin wrote:

> The stegosaur doesn't have to do any crazy gymnastics to bring its
> weapon to bear - it just does what is natural - runs away.

Except that the stego couldn't run away.  The way those animals are built
couldn't have run anywhere near the speed of any predator worthy of the
Any animal wanting to munch on a stego could easily run around to the front
attack the front flanks and neck below the plates, quite easily done for any
predator with either claws on its feet or overall size not in excess of the
stego (I think I've included every predator here).  Thus the stego had to
some way of geting the tail into play near the front quickly.  I don't think
slow rotation on all fours would cut it.  Therefore I proposed the brief hop
the back legs and swinging around.  Again, I'm not talking about a
spin or anything, just a simple half turn using the weight distribution the
stegos have to facilitate a quick turn.

Joe Daniel