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Re: Fw: Sauropod Necks As Weapons

From: "Dann Pigdon" <dannj@alphalink.com.au>
> Not necessarily. I have it on good authority from croc-wise people in
> Queensland, Australia, that some crocs have adapted to taking livestock
> much larger than they can pull into the water with their jaws alone by
> sweeping their legs out from under them using their tails.

Well that's an interesting story, but do they really have any hard evidence
for it? Excuse my skepticism, but where was this seen? Are you saying the
tail was used to unbalance prey, then the jaws brought into play, or that
the croc already had the animal by the jaws and then somehow used its tail
to sweep the prey of its feet?

The use of the tail as an means of knocking prey off its feet is one of
those established "croc myths" that seems to have no reliable, documented
evidence to support it. Nobody is quite sure it never happens, but nobody
can prove that it does either. I've discussed this many times with my
colleagues. It would take a very large croc to knock over large livestock
and horses - smaller crocs certainly don't have that amount of power in
their tail. I've been hit by them several times, and it's like being slapped
with an oar - a little painful, sure, but not enough to sweep you off your
feet. And I weigh a lot less than a horse.

Perhaps larger crocs (16 foot plus) could successfully "tail sweep", but
then such large animals have no problem dealing with adult cattle and horses
they grab by the jaws, so it's hard to conceive a realistic scenario where
they'd risk using this dubious "tail sweep". A croc only really needs to
twist off the head or a limb to fill its stomach.

Frankly, none of my colleagues (and not just here in Oz) have ever seen any
evidence of this. We have seen the tail arc inwards in the same direction as
the head (to create a "C" shape with the body) to help capture prey
(typically fish), but never sole use of the tail as a weapon (only for
defence, and then in conjunction with the jaws). Corralling of fish has also
been widely documented. There are stories that salties smack tree trunks
with their tail to dislodge fruit bats, but again nobody ever seems to have
seen this, plus it sounds extremely unlikely. They will hang around under
colonies and rise up to take bats in overhanging branches, however.

Of course, I'm not so naive to believe that I've seen everything, so I'd be
interested if there were documented evidence for this - hell, I'd love to
see it. Only last year I saw adult female crocs feeding their young - a
behaviour I'd have never thought possible until I saw it.

Best wishes,

Adam Britton