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Re: Long-necked stegosaur coming out in Proceedings B

--- On Wed, 2/25/09, Ronald Orenstein <ron.orenstein@rogers.com> wrote:

> Speaking as someone with very little knowledge of the
> details of stegosaur anatomy, I would wonder how
> well-equipped Stegosaurs were for rapid swivelling
> movements, so that they could spin around quickly to present
> the best face to a predator?  

I share and likely over-match your lack of anatomical knowledge, but would be 
surprised if they could not pivot effectively. I somehow doubt that "evasive 
action" was one of their talents, though.

That said, an incremental difference in individual neck length will logically 
have a negligible effect on predator detection, which begs the question; what 
model of evolution can be used to create a long neck using enhanced 
predator-detection as a primary driver?

> Most animals that use their tails in defense (crocodiles,
> monitor lizards, iguanas, etc) tend to present one side, or
> another to an attacker. This has the benefit of presenting a
> much larger target to the predator (which in this case,
> would be intimidating rather than inviting), and allowing
> for "better aim" of the tail. 

And also allowing for a significantly more powerful blow; this is due to longer 
arc path (more acceleration time), and further acceleration of the tail-tip due 
to the effective shortening of the tail that occurs as the tail reaches the 
limits of it's swing.