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Re: Tall Croc Tales (was Sauropod Necks As Weapons)



Adam Britton wrote:
> 
> 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?

I've also heard that the tail swipe is the favoured method of preying on
humans. When crocs ambush a large quadruped by the waters edge, they
typically aim for the head. In an upright human this can be difficult.
Rumours in Queensland have it that some crocs have taken to using the
tail swipe specifically to hunt humans. 

That's what the locals say, anyway. Either they are tales told by people
who have lived all their lives in croc country and are probably more
familiar with day-to-day croc behaviour than some researchers... or they
are tounge-in-cheek tales told to tourists. Who can say for sure which
it is?

> 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.

The thing about such "folk tales" is that there is sometimes some fact
wound in with the fiction. There were once tales of a North American
lizard that squirted blood from its eyes, which were of course dismissed
as folk lore. Until, that is, researchers bothered to spend as much time
around the creatures in question as the local inhabitants did, and found
it to be true. Of course, that doesn't mean that all folk tales are
true.

> 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".

If you walk around croc country in northern Australia, you'll sometimes
come across "the one that got away" - that is, a cow or horse carcass
with characteristic puncture marks to the head. They are animals that
survived an initial head-on croc attack, only to die later from their
wounds. When you grab a large quadruped by the head, it may still have
all four feet on the ground, and thus be capable of winning the
tug-of-war. If a croc was desperate enough, and needed to increase the
chance of a kill on an animal that was larger than it would usually
take, perhaps a different tactic is called for.

Go out and spend a few months (or years) in croc country. When you get
back, we'd all be interested in what you've discovered. Go on - do it
for science! :)

-- 
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Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS / Archaeologist         http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/
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