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Re: [Re: supersaurus tail thingy]

It's an interesting theory, but too mammalian for my tastes :)

While large mammal herbivores do use their tails as fly swatters, the fact of
the matter is that fly swatting is one of the few functions that mammal tails
are still good for. Ever since the decoupling of primary leg retracting
muscles from the tail, mammal tails got shorter and skimpier. Some mammals
lost them altogether, a few went prehensile and some even use them for
communication, but the majority of mammalian tails are pathetic little
vestiges of once great parareptilian caudal limbs (too dramatic?).

Anyway, my point was that dinosaurs were reptiles that came complete with the
"typical" reptilian tail design. A sauropod didn't have the best tail for
swiping off little gnats (though it was probably mobile enough, there is none
of that course hair to allow some good fly swatting action) and there were
some awfully powerful muscles attached to those tails. It would seem a waste
to just use them to "swat thy neighbour." Well maybe if the neighbour was an

Besides, a sauropod hide must have been one tough S.O.B. to puncture. 

Kinda gives me chills to think of the kind of parasite that had to evolve
those types of hide piercing mouthparts.

Personally, I was always fond of the whip cracking communication hypothesis,
along with the defense one.



Marilyn Wegweiser <mdwegweiser@bsuvc.bsu.edu> wrote:
> At 9:30 PM +0000 2/16/01, Scott Hartman wrote:
> >>>On the same line, is it possible that the club-like tail feature 
> >>>found in the Chinese Omeisaurus may also be a "popper"?  The 
> >>>club-like feature a product of fossilization.<<<
> >
> >     An interesting question.  I would have to say probably not, 
> >because the flexibility of the "whiplash" section of the diplodocid 
> >tail is required to achieve supersonic speed.  The shorter tail of 
> >omeiosaurus, combined with the fact that the caudal processes extend 
> >further down the tail make it less likely that Omeisaurs could have 
> >do  the same.  On the other hand, snapping a towel apparently can 
> >break the sound barrier also, so without better modeling of the 
> >tails of Chinese asaruopods, I can't rule it out.
> >
> Imagine this: You are a great big herbivore from the Mesozoic. Your 
> eyes and other parts of your body, are occasionally bothered by 
> biting, stinging, annoying Mesozoic invertebrate Insects.
> You have a very long tail.
> Now, as a paleoethologist who enjoys her work, I would encourage 
> everyoneto go out and watch a National Geographic (or any other 
> flavor) presentation that includes footage of lots of grazing, 
> moving, standing herbivores - it will also invariably include footage 
> of schitt (a geologic term) and flies. Gnats. Mosquitos. During the 
> Mesozoic then we had: Great Big Mesozoic Sized Biting Annoying 
> creatures, and no fly spray anywhere in sight! BUT! We are 
> herbivores. We have a TAIL! A marvelous derived thing. Now. Observe 
> the behavior of tails. Go then, and observe the behavior of tails on 
> wild or feral and domestic herbivores (such as horses and cows). Head 
> to tail - swatting flies. Standing alone or in groups - swatting 
> flies.
> You have a tail. What do you do with it. Make noise? Battle? Defense? 
> To attract a mate? Sometimes, probably. What do you do with it *most* 
> of the time? Do you maybe swat great big dinosaur sized Mesozoic 
> flies/gnats/mosquitos off of your face and body, and out of your 
> eyes. Or off the face, body, and eyes of your neighbor? It's just a 
> speculation of mine. So therefore, I'm going with 
> Akim's/Occam's/Okim's (spelling please?) Razor. ;^)
> Toksa,
> Marilyn
> -- 
>                       =00=  =00=  =00=  =00=
>                       Marilyn D. Wegweiser, Ph.D.
>               Adjunct Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
>                    Cincinnati Natural History Museum
> Assistant Professor of Geology
> Department of Geology                 mdwegweiser@bsu.edu
> Ball State University                         Office: 
> 765-285-8268;765-285-8270
> Muncie, Indiana                               FAX:    765-285-8265

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