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Re: Oviraptorosaur tail forms and functions
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Re: Oviraptorosaur tail forms and functions
- From: Tim Williams <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 11:48:02 +1100
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Augusto Haro <email@example.com> wrote:
> -Tail shortening of the kind seen in these oviraptorosaurs is not what I
> would expect in an animal using the tail as defense.
> -Animals using tails to hit are generally not as long-legged or obligate
> bipeds as oviraptorosaurs, probably for the sake of stability while
> delivering the blow.
Yes, I have to admit that I don't place too much stock in the
tail-as-a-weapon hypothesis. I envisioned the tail more as a last
resort during defense, deployed against a small predator that came too
close. Or used against a rival male during close-range combat. The
oviraptorosaur tail is not in the same league as, say, the tail of an
ankylosaur, or even _Shunosaurus_. Not even close.
The forelimbs of oviraptorosaurs might have been used in the same way:
as defensive weapons at close range. If oviraptorosaurs were
herbivores (and the recent _Yulong_ paper apparently reiterates this
hypothesis), then the "raptorial" hands were unlikely to be used for
> I think a pygostyle may alternatively represent a way to strenghten the
> delicate small distal tail vertebrae when tail shortening put these closer
> to the base of the tail, at which stronger forces occur and may be
> transmitted to the tip by connective tissues.
What you say is more along the lines of what I was aiming at: Distal
reinforcement of the caudal series as a byproduct of tail shortening.
The same thing probably happened with birds (Avialae). It was not
until fairly late in avialan evolution that the pygostyle was co-opted
for aerodynamic purposes.