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RE: Diplodocid duck-and-cover techniques



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dann Pigdon [mailto:dannj@alphalink.com.au]
> Sent: Saturday, July 29, 2000 1:11 AM
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: Diplodocid duck-and-cover techniques
> 
> > A tail that massive wouldn't necessarily need direction.
> 
> I doubt it could have completed an arc very quickly. If it swung too
> early, the aggressor might be able to nip in and do some damage before
> the tail was ready to be swung again.
> 
> > How much would they have to turn their head to look behind 
> > themselves? How were the eyes situated? Good enough for
> > stereoscopic vision? Could they turn their head enough and
> > just look with one eye?
> 
> I'd have thought they would need to be able to judge distance to some
> degree, to avoid swinging too early or too late. It would seem to me
> that the very end of the tail would do the most damage, since it would
> be moving fastest. Why develop such a specialised and 
> effective defense and not hone it to a fine art?

Then again, one of the already proposed uses of the diplodocid whip-tail
(based on those calculations by can't-remember-who-exactly that reportedly
showed that tip of such a tail could easily have passed the sound barrier)
is exactly that: a whip, used basically for the terrible cracking sound that
this would make. It would probably be better to look at the target, aim and
actually strike it or at least come close, but if the bull-whip thing was
the main use of the tail, aiming and therefor looking at the target would
basically not be needed.

Perhaps the truth is more complex than either simple answers (it often is).
Diplodocid sauropods could have just sounded their tails without even a
single good look whenever something it didn't like came a bit to close for
comfort and then switch to actually looking, aiming and trying to hit the
attacker if that wasn't enough to scare them off.

Either way, it must have been one heck of a sight. To be able to see (and
hear?) the past... <sigh>

Met vriendelijke groeten,
Jarno Peschier, dinosaur@jarno.demon.nl/jarnop@ccs.nl