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Re: spinning stegos

joe wrote:
> I think the stego may have
> functioned in a similar fashion using its tail spikes rather than a
> horrible-smelling spray of course.

The problem with most animal behaviour is that it does not always
fossilize well. I can envisage stegosaurs with well developed spikes
and plates not so much for defense in and of themselves, but as
brightly coloured warning signs letting other creatures know about
the skunk-like scent glands at the base of the tail. Now that's
something I wouldn't like to tangle with - a multi-tonne skunk!

> But I definitely agree with you that most aggressive defenses are forward 
> facing
> for good reason. 

Perhaps, but have you ever seen a porcupine when it's really wound
up? That's what I call an agressive defence - dozens of sharp (and
barbed) spikes driven into some poor unsuspecting predator's nose.
Rearward defenses have one major advantage - once the aggressor has
been sufficiently deterred you can simply run for it. In order for
a horned creature to bring their defenses into play they have to
stop retreating and turn around. The result can be a stand off with
no easy escape for the defender. With a rearward defense at least
you are pointing in the right direction to flee when the opporunity
presents itself.

I general there tends to be a greater emphasis towards rearward defenses
amongst many dinos. Ankylosaurs and stegosaurs with their clubs/spikes,
whether as active defence (spike in the face, club in the shin) or
as a passive one (false heads on ankylosaurs perhaps). Diplodocid
whip-tails (whether of the bull-whip or cat-o-nine tail variety) and
shunosaur tail clubs/spikes. These all seem to be of the slower
moving varieties of dinosaur. Could there be a correlate between
the speed at which a dinosaur could escape predation and the tendancy
for rearward defence?

        Dann Pigdon
        Self proclaimed "King of all Speculation"