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Re: Spinning Stegos
John Clavin wrote:
<<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.>>
A stegosaur looking backwards can bring its head into parallel with
its spine, the neck is that long. It can, conceivably, peer past its
thighs at what's behind it, if only to see if Baby's coming (wild
speculation there :) ).
However, all except *Stegosaurus* and probably *Tuojiangosaurus* and
*Wuerhosaurus* had shoulder spikes pointing backward and along the
flank, two defenses in one.
Joe Daniel wrote:
<Not necessarily, depends on the effectiveness of the rearward defense
and how easily it can be brought into play. Let's take for an example
the common skunk. Very effective rearward defense and a very slow
moving animal. Any predator can outrun it without difficulty. Why?
It doesn't run away, it just keeps it rear pointed in the direction of
the predator. Yes, it has a blind spot, but it seems to work
wonderfully well. The only animals that I know that effectively hunt
skunks on a consistant basis are owls because they can come in from
above without the skunk hearing them. I think the stego may have
functioned in a similar fashion using its tail spikes rather than a
horrible-smelling spray of course.>
An interesting point Tracy Ford brought up to me:
"Actually the tail of Stegosaurus wasn't very mobile, it COULDN'T
swing the tail like in the episode in Paleoworld. Why you may ask?
It's the plates. In S. stenops the plates are very VERY large. They
severial caudal vertebrae. The plate would immoblize those vertebrae
via it's long plate base. For example, if you have one of those wooden
snake toys that are jointed in sections and just glue a popsicle stick
several sections then try to move them you'll find out you can't. This
is what is happening in Stegosaurus with alternating popsicle sticks
on the tail so to speak. The spikes were horizontal not verticle. The
road kill at the Smithsonian is smaller than a referred tail from the
same quarry, but the plates are larger than the referred specimen.
Sexually seletion or individual varation?
"In other stegosaurs, the tail was more mobile."
Interesting, no? The odd thing is is that, despite these huge armor
defenses, stegosaurs died, and like porcupines, arguably the
best-defended mammals alive, are still killed by lions. Their spines
stick every which way, but lions manage to kill 'em, sometimes.
Possible stegosaur hunting strategy: hit e'm from the side, knock
'em over. Of course, if there was a family or hear structure, isolate
them first, like with deer or antelopes.
Jaime A. Headden
Qilong, the website, at:
All comments and criticisms are welcome!
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