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Re: Long-necked stegosaur coming out in Proceedings B

Dann Pigdon wrote:

> I would also expect few predators to approach their prey
> head-on, since that's generally a good way to 
> be spotted quickly by your prey. 

In a dense forest situation, this only works if the prospective prey can view 
the approaching predator through (or over) the vegetation.  Hence the advantage 
of having a longer neck to peek over the vegetation, periscope-style.

> Even if they did try the
> direct approach, surely their prey would make 
> some sort of attempt to turn around and move away before
> the predator got there. Either way, you'd 
> expect a predator to be dealing with a stegosaur's hind
> quarters more often than not.

Definitely.  Spying an approaching predator would allow the stegosaur to take 
evasive action, or (failing that) defensive action by swinging the body around 
such that the tail was suitably positioned (i.e., "thagomizer-first").

> Perhaps a longer, more flexible neck made looking back at
> predators easier? The problem with having 
> your main defensive weapons on your tail is that you have
> to turn your back on your enemies to use it. 
> Being able to look backwards to aim your tail swipes might
> be an advantage.

For sure.  In other words, improved better 'eye-tail' coordination so the 
stegosaur is not just blindly swinging its thagomizer and hoping for the best 
(or worst, if you happen to be the predator).

As I read recently in an excellent (and highly recommended) book entitled 
"Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of 
All Ages" (by T.R. Holtz and L.V. Rey), stegosaurs were very successful in the 
later Jurassic, so obviously they were doing something right.  However, that 
'something' wasn't enough to guarantee stegosaur survival for the entire 
Mesozoic.  As mentioned previously on this list, fast predators that were adept 
at attacking stegosaurs from the side, and/or hunted in packs, may have doomed 
the stegosaurs as the Cretaceous went on.  Dromaeosaurs spring to mind.