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RE: Bakker & whiptails - jog my memory please!


One of my questions regarding the supersonic sauropod tails regards the fraying you see in a bullwhip. The tip of a bullwhip travels so fast it breaks the sound barrier, true, but because it cracks so fast, the ends of the whip eventually begin to fray. Not only that, but a bullwhip is a continuous piece of material.

In contrast, a sauropod tail is made up of many separate, finger-sized verts. If these separate verts were "cracked" at supersonic speeds, were they capable of holding up? In other words, whips fray and break over time, especially the tips. What would happen to sauropod tails? What of the blood vessels, especially the delicate capillaries that must have run to the tail verts? Seems to me the tail could be an effective weapon without having to travel supersonically. Many reptiles smack predators and prey with their tails, leaving nice welts or worse, and none of these guys is doing it supersonically. Of course, without the supersonic speed you don't get the cracking noise Nathan and Currie suggested.

Any thoughts?

Matt Bonnan
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