Tail Clubs

A Weapon For Defense?

Large tail clubs could generate enough force to break bones on impact. Medium and small tail knobs, however, could not.
A new study suggests that some dinosaurs may have been more powerful than previously thought. A detailed analysis of an ankylosaur's tail club has revealed that it could inflict considerable damage on predators, despite the relatively small size of the tail's bony club-shaped end. Some ankylosaurs had very impressive tails, suggesting that their tail clubs were used for defense.

The tail clubs are formed by interlocking vertebrae that form the so-called handle and by a more or less large terminal osteoderm (fused bone) that makes up the club.
Fossil evidence from China dating back to the mid-Cretaceous period shows that the evolution of tail clubs occurred gradually over a period of 60 million years.
The conclusions that Victoria Megan Arbour
draw from her 2009 study are as follows:

Tail-swinging behavior is possible in ankylosaurs, but it remains unknown whether the tail was used for interspecific defense, intraspecific combat, or both.

Ziapelta sanjuanensis

Ziapelta sanjuanensis is a recently discovered species of ankylosaur, a herbivorous dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous period. The fossilized remains of the dinosaur, which include fragments of its skull and several vertebrae, were found in the Kirtland Formation in New Mexico. Ziapelta sanjuanensis is classified as an ankylosaurid dinosaur, meaning that its head was protected by bony armor plates and its body by thick, bony scales.
Lived 74.5-72.6 million years ago
He became 4,6 m to 6,1 m long
It was quadrupedal, with a broad, robust body
Ziapelta's body was protected by osteoderms, scales of bone that sit inside the skin.
Image Source:  Illustration by Sydney Mohr, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons

Aletopelta coombsi

Aletopelta coombsi, a species of ankylosaurid dinosaur discovered in the Point Loma Formation near Carlsbad in southern California. Aletopelta coombsi was four to five meters long and one to two meters tall. The dinosaur's tail and hips are covered with bony plates called osteoderms, which may have been used for defense against predators. The appearance of its skull is not known. The dinosaur's name honors vertebrate paleontologist Walter Preston Coombs, Jr..
He lived 76,4 to 72 million years ago
He became about 4 meters long
On the shoulder region it had thicker plates and spines.
The pelvic region had a shield of interconnected polygonal plates.
Image Source:  Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.ca), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Ankylosaurus magniventris

Ankylosaurus magniventris

Ankylosaurus was a genus of armored dinosaur. It had a large, heavily armored body, a powerful tail, and a prominent club at the end of the tail. It was a herbivore, eating mostly ferns and other plants. An adult Ankylosaurus was about 8 to 9 meters long and weighed 3.5 tons. Ankylosaurus was one of the last dinosaur genera to appear before the great extinction event (K-T event) that wiped out all non-bird dinosaurs.It lived alongside other dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. Ankylosaurus belonged to the Ankylosauridae family, a group of four-legged, armored dinosaurs with massive bony plates (osteoderms).
Its bony tail club was one of the largest known today. Strong tendons were connected to the tail vertebrae and provided mobility and power transmission for this club, which could even shatter bones. Presumably, it was used for defense.
He lived 69.9 to 66 million years ago.
He became about 8 to 9 meters long
It was covered with armor plates or osteoderms, with bony half-rings covering the neck.
Bones in the skull and other parts of the body were fused, which increased their strength.
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