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Re: Long-necked stegosaur coming out in Proceedings B

I'm having trouble imagining stegosaurs doing anything more than "flailing
away" with their spikes.

Jason wrote:

> 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.

I'm thinking that these animals might have something stegs probably didn't
-- speed for a getaway*, should the opportunity present -- and for
crocodilians, nasty teeth at the front end. And are they trying to strike
with the tip of the tail or a little further back where there is more
mass? Not that brain size is the final determinant, but I'm wondering
which animals might rate higher in the smarts and co-ordination department
(especially since some are arboreal and some are, themselves, predators).

Plus, if a stegosaur kept its back to the predator, it would be all plates
and thrashing thagomizer. If it turned broadside, it would present an open
flank, with even more vulnerable head and neck just around the corner.

Lastly, was it Bob Bakker who pointed out, years ago, that the steg's
heavily muscled forelimbs made a good pivot point for keeping its tail end
toward the predator?

-- Donna Braginetz

* Although, Miramaia looks relatively gracile for a stegosaur (at least,
according to the illustration).