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RE: Sauropod Necks As Weapons



On Mon, 9 Dec 2002, Williams, Tim wrote:
> Richard W Travsky wrote:
> 
> > Both neck and tail no doubt could have been used. The problem with the
> > tail usage is being able to see the target to hit effectively.
> 
> You mean, a _Diplodocus_ would not be able to see (or smell?) a 2-ton
> _Allosaurus_ approaching its flank?  How short-sighted were these sauropods?
> :-)

Seeing is one thing, aiming to hit is another.
 
> > The vulnerability of the neck might be overstated.
> 
> Sure, why not use the neck to "thagomize" an attacking predator, out of
> sheer desperation?  But, otherwise: was it worth the risk?  An attempted
> bludgeoning of a predator with the neck put both the esophagus and trachea
> in harm's way.  
> 
> Of course, since this qualifies as dinosaur behavior, we're skating on thin
> ice.  But ask yourself: Does the sauropod neck show any adaptations for
> offense?  Does the sauropod tail show any adaptations for offense?  I would
> contend that the narrow and elongated distal caudals (terminal "whiplash")
> of many sauropods, and the club-like distal caudals of at least one sauropod
> indicate some form of *specialization* for an offensive capability for the
> tail.

The amount of mass tied up in the neck and tail should prove sufficient
to deliver a lot of energy into the impact.