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Re: New dinosaur paper: Ankylosaur tail club smacking
Andrew Farke <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I've briefly blogged about the new
> ankylosaur function article at the
> Open Source Paleontologist:
As stated in the abstract, "Large knobs could generate sufficient force to
break bone during impacts, but average and small knobs could not". But I
wouldn't have thought that average and small knobs were therefore
non-functional as defensive devices against predators. It would not be
necessary for the ankylosaurid to debilitate the predator by breaking bone, but
simply to warn the predator off.
The predator wouldn't *know* that the swinging tail club of a smaller or
mid-sized ankylosaur would not break its ankle. The fact that the blow would
hurt (and probably quite a lot!) is reason enough to avoid it. If the predator
was struck by an undersized tail club, the pain inflicted by the blow would
tell the predator that there is the *potential* for a debilitating injury (even
if, biomechanically, there isn't enough impact to smash through bone). The
predator may have even have witnessed (or experienced itself) a blow from a
large tail club to be aware of the consequences.
In other words, for ankylosaurids as in politics, perception is more important
than truth. If a predator perceives a tail club to be dangerous (because in
larger ankylosaurids it really is), then it will avoid it, for fear of
incurring a crippling injury.