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Stegosaur Butts and Sauropod Tails
Peter Von Sholly (real name, I'll have to ammend that FBI report I put
out on him :) ) wrote:
<And nobody ever noticed this before (in the old days) when they were
putting stegosaurs together? Besides, as long as they articulate with
the angle of the spine, they could slope gently downward, NOT dragging
on the ground, no. I maintain there is some leeway in how bones can be
put together. Some. Sometimes.>
While the base of the tail was rigid, I believe, the rest of the
caudals, while being relatively inflexible, may have curved like San
Fransisco street. The caudals are nice and long, with better than flat
ends for the centra. Mobility, or at least a downward curvature, was
probable. I haven't studied stegosaur tails, though.
Now, surely, sticking one's *ahem* rear in the air would lead to
some decidedly picky situations. Aside from a good pose for dropping a
dropping. It would have brought what may be a generally vulnerable
portion of the body into reach of various local predators
(*Ceratosaurus*, *Torvosaurus*, and *Allosaurus*).
Held lower, the aforementioned would get a mouthful of sharp plate
and spike (the end of the tail was probably more mobile that any other
part, so it may have been able to do the porcupine flip -- in as much
as the tail movement correlates). So, defense would be served by
plates that, as mentioned previously on this list, had broad, rigid
bases: "The better to hit with, my dear!" No need to worry about the
plate being deflected sideways.
And because the base of the tail was still high up, it would not
hamper the boys in town from making a few chicks (that's babies, not
girls -- bad, bad, lewd man!).
<I was told once by a preparator who shall remain nameless that he was
very excited about the new stegosaur tail orientation and wanted to be
the first (or one of the first) to have his museum's specimen mounted
that way- but the funny thing was, it wouldn't GO together that way.
I asked how it DID want to go together and he said it had a natural,
but gentle, downward slope to it. Now, he may have been wrong, but
that's what he told me.>
It's also possible, as I think George suggested elsewhere on the net
(Skullduggery has some of his articles there) that tail orientation
differed either specimen to specimen, sex to sex, or species to
species; following both George and Bob Bakker, even genus to genus,
for *Stegosaurus* and "Diracodon".
Now save another e-mail, so Mickey doesn't exorcise me from the list
for a week, I've included more butt-jokes below. :)
Tails in sauropods are fun to look at because they're so
interesting. The possibilities are endless. You can sit on them, hit
with this, display with them (democratic sauropods protested with
them), herd cattle with them (read: bull-whip), play in the band where
"Rawhide" is a popular favorite, and otherwise make a general nuisance
out of yourself.
*Shunosaurus* and maybe *Omeisaurus fuxuiensis* may have clobbered
poor *Yangchuanosaurus* and *Gasosaurus* with theire fancy schmancy
clubs. The ends of the tail are enlarged vertebrae with spike-like
prominences, possibly secondary ossifications. Now, where did it get
something like that? It's probably that integument in sauropods were
always dermal ossicles that were arrayed down the spine, arrayed
across the back in titanosaurs, and iguana-like in one particular
"diplodocid-morph" sauropod. Sauropods have never been well-preserved
to begin with, so waiting for a good set of skin impressions may be a
Now, imagine it.
Sauropod sights (or smells) some starving, poor wretch of an
allosaur. Allosaur sniffs air, catches whiff of sauropod, and begins
salivating. *Lunch* is probably the most coherent thought in its
drained little mind, and it just lets nature take her course.
The sauropod's not stupid (not overly, anyway) and immediately turns
to where its most effective long-distance weaponry lies: the tail.
Beginning to rock back and forth, slowly, the sauropod's tail gains
momentum; the allosaur, seeing this, is suddenly remined of Maude, his
latest mate, wagging her rear at him. Funny, this big version of
"Maude" seems to be wagging her butt at him.
The allosaur comes closer, and the sauropod, which has her head
turned sideways to see behind it, begins the final countdown for
launch. The allosaur misconstures this as "lunch" and does the
appropriate predator thing.
Arrayed down the saurpod's tail are short dermal spikes, thin, and
sharply pointed. These spines taper down to the whip-like portion. If
the whip doesn't get the allosaur, the spikes will. The whip itself is
sheathed in scale-like rings of overlapping keratin, protecting the
delicate, light-weight bones, which would break off without the
As the allosaur dumbly comes in closer, the saurpod gives her rear
one final wag, and WHOOSH!, the allosaur looses an inch or so (deep)
of flesh from it's neck. It didn't feel good. Accompanied by a
ear-cracking BOOM!, thw whip comes back for a second pass, and before
the allosaur recovers, stinging in pain, he's lost more flesh, across
his face. The facial skin being as thin as it is, the tail cuts to the
The allosaur's had enough. This is the last time he goes after a
rear-wagging female! He turns tail and does the predator thing.
Meanwhile, the sauropod sniffs in contemptment: the last allosaur
lasted four whips, this one could at least last THREE. But satisfied
that she's protected her virtue once again, the diplodocid saurpod
ambles alongside a stream, once again assured that the world's hers.
The Jurassic belongs to the saurpods.
The tip of her tail being muscle-less, the tip hangs down and gouges
a shallow trough between her foot prints.
PS: this is in no way attempting to put down male go-get-em-ness,
female come-hither-ness, or allosaur-predator-ness, or
democrat-protest-ness (republicans and Perot-ians protest, too)
Jaime A. Headden
Qilong, the website, at:
All comments and criticisms are welcome!
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