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Re: Stegosaur Tails

Sean Carroll (sean@kua.net) wrote:
<LOL ... nice to know that in an age of bitter controversy, dinosaur
science can still take a breather and prove some pretty obvious facts.
What's next, actual evidence that sauropod necks attached to the front of
their torsos and not the middle of their backs? ;)>

  Actually, its not so obvious: most of depictions of stegosaurs swinging
their tails have been in nearly 180 degree arcs, held over their heads
(e.g., Disney's _Fantasia_), and so forth. That the caudal centra are very
broad, flattened, and short impedes this, leading one to conjecture they
could not. The study suggests a limitation to 30 degrees, but transmission
of force has been quantified. All that need be done now and add in Nathan
Myhrvold's program to compute other data, and testing, of course.
Different animals may get different figures. So tail swinging isn't
obvious, just inferred. Meaning, the tail-whomping Sarah Harding got in
Jurassic Park: The Lost World was not possible, just theory. Its actually
something I've wanted to see worked on for a few years ... in the archives
you can go back and see how people conjectured tail movement, I theorized
there was none because of the shapes of the first half of the tail. Why
have such a rigidly-built tail with such obvious whomping armament? Now we
have a partial answer. I look forward to the paper....


Jaime A. Headden

  Little steps are often the hardest to take.  We are too used to making leaps 
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do.  We should all 
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.

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