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Re: Dinosaur footprint trackway found

On Wed, 22 Oct 2008, Dann Pigdon wrote:
Quoting "Richard W. Travsky" <rtravsky@uwyo.edu>:
On Wed, 22 Oct 2008, Dann Pigdon wrote:
Quoting Richard Hing <Richard.Hing@port.ac.uk>:
There's pictures here of some of the tail drags from the sauropod:


I also remember hearing about other trackways that show the same thing as
well. I thought that dinosaurs were meant to keep their tails up off the
ground? It seems a simple point but I've never heard it mentioned. Is
an explanation?

There may have been less impetus to keep the tail aloft in soft mud than over rougher, more abrasive terrain. Having the tail contact the ground in muddy conditions may even have helped - a sauropod in slippery mud may have needed as much contact with the substrate as possible to prevent them slipping over. Spreading some of the weight of their hind quarters on the tail may also have helped prevent their hind legs from sinking too far into the mud.

Wouldn't the tail impressions have been deeper then?

In scenarios 2 and 3, yes. Not necessarily in scenario 1 though. Unless these are undertracks of course.

I suppose what bothers me about using the tail for support is the "re-imagining" of tails , making them stiffer, held higher, and not tail
draggers at all.

Another (perhaps even less likely) scenario is that the tail drag marks represent the very end of the tail, and that the prints were made by an

I suppose this might be more likely if the tip is more free moving - whiplash like.

animal wading through water. If the tail was floating on the surface of the water then the animal may not have had to use as much muscular force to keep it up. In such a relaxed state, the thinner (and presumably less buoyant) end of the tail may have trailed below water and scraped the substrate.