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trans: Tanystropheus



Silvio asked to forward his answer to my question, so here it is
<snip>
Then there was this scene where the 
reporter pulls on the animal's tail and this last one breaks off like in 
modern lizards.I don't think prolacertiforms and lacertiforms are so 
closely related as to show such a behavior. 
So here are my questions: 

1-is there any evidence that T. could swimm underwater as shown in the 
fiction? 

No, the problem is that such a neck seems unconfortable in any environment thus 
it has been preferred to put it in water, because possibly among vegetation and 
rocks it was even more  difficult to manage such a prop (given that seemingly 
it had to be held horizontally straightened). Others have different ideas, 
however.

Indeed tanystropheus is a fairly frequent find in the Besano locality and thus 
maybe it was at least semi-aquatic. The limbs are much less specialized than 
those of its nothosaurid contemporaries. Give a look at my former website to 
find informations and figures.

2-has the evolution of a long neck been suggested for this kind of 
fishing? 

Concerning tanystropheus,  perhaps it has been suggested  firstly by Karl 
Tschanz in his PhD thesis, others followed. 

3-is there any evidence that long-tailed prolacertiforms could lose part 
of their tail and still live? 

Rupert Wild 1973 claimed that fracture planes are present in the caudal 
vertebrae. I wasn't able to see them in any of the the specimen I examined. 
Moreover, as I repeatedly stated in many occasions (and Olivier Rieppel also 
wrote in a JVP paper on Macrocnemus) caudal autotomy is not feasible in such a 
big animal. The physiological cost is too heavy I presume. As far as I know the 
big monitor lizards do not lose their tail and they ARE lizards. In addition if 
the animal was aquatic how did it move if the body became totally unbalanced? 
the same on land.

The sad story is that divulgation, follows what it is called Kali Yuga by 
Hindus, the "obscure age" in which things go worst and worst. I won't comment 
on the need to show reporter animal interaction, but I am a bit upset for the 
inaccuracy. It looks like someone picked up an old paper to mount the 
storyboard without looking around for confirmations or more recent studies. Or 
since the tail off scene was appealing, possibly it was performed for this 
reason.  What a pity, the Tv is a powerful mode to pass information, thus what 
a lot of good could be done, if they were more accurate. I remember that the 
cover of the italian edition of Scientific Amercan advertise the paper of 
Darren Tanke calling Tyrannosaurus Wthe Giant of the Jurassic" only because in 
this way they recalled the movie. Kali Yuga. 

Merry Xmas and happy new year to all 
Cheers, 
To you also! 

                                        Silvio