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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.
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