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Re: Tyrannosaurus tail torque

On Fri, 19 Nov 2010 11:54:05 +1100
Dann Pigdon <dannj@alphalink.com.au> wrote:
> A tyrannosaur might similarly throw caution to the wind when fleeing
> an even larger tyrannosaur, or if on the point of starvation where
> their next kill might be the difference between their own survival or
> death. Such top speeds however don't tell us much about their average
> behaviour - just what they may have been capable of in an emergency.

It may be valuable to think of additional factors beyond top speed.

Some of the muscle mass may be optimised for endurance - with such long
legs exhausting prey through "out walking" them may have been extremely

Acceleration may be for more important than we generally assume. With
stride lengths in the excess of three metres, the amount of distance
covered in the first few steps is very impressive. Even at low speeds
it can get a large animal out of dense foliage and into a biting

Quickly turning at low speeds and bracing while attacking struggling
prey could also be very important. Similarly, the ability to polka
might be important in territorial struggles (face biting). Mating may
require unusual postures and extraordinary efforts, as may recovering
from near falls.

Finally, we tend to imagine these animals moving on treadmills or
mud-flats. Many types of terrains may have had slopes, unpredictable
height variations (eg. throw mounds), as well as varied obstacles and
unpredictable consistency. 

The strains and challenges for mobility, navigation and recovery in
such environments, along with unusually extended or compressed leg
postures may be much greater than we imagine.

We don't want to exclude all of these possibilities from how we
consider the problem, even if top speed is still the most fascinating
and rewarding focus of study.


-Jonas Weselake-George