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Paleontologist Phil Currie was walking along the sandstone cliffs of the badlands in southern Alberta when he spotted something sticking out of the side of the hill.
It appeared to be the fossil of an ancient turtle. But as he began to clear away the sand, he could see that it was the skull of a dinosaur.
There is nothing extraordinary about finding fossils in Dinosaur Provincial Park. In fact, there is no better place to find the remains of these so-called "terrible lizards" that walked the earth for more than 165 million years.
But in the days that followed in that summer of 2010, Currie suspected he may have found something extraordinary indeed. This specimen appeared to be so rare and so exquisitely preserved that he instructed his students and colleagues to go slow with the excavation when he had to leave base camp for a few days.
"I just didn't want to miss out on this one," he recalls. "It's extremely rare to find a dinosaur such as this, and almost as rare to find one that is so complete. I wanted to be there to see what we had by the time we were done with it."
Now, thanks to a mathematical simulation done by Currie and Nathan P. Myhrvold of Microsoft Research, we know, for instance, that the enormous tail of Apatosaurus was not so much a way of counterbalancing this dinosaur's long neck, as it was a giant whip that could theoretically break the speed of sound and create a sonic boom that would scare the heck out of a large predator, or at least make it take pause.
Originally posted by kwakakev
Whips do go through a lot of stress with the ends constantly fraying. While the thought of a dinosaur cracking his tail sounds cool I am not sure how the biology could constantly withstand such forces. I am sure there would be a good hit in the tail, but need more than some bone modelling for a sonic boom.
As an Australian,if you have ever been close to a goanna you'd know this a common practice.I have kept dozen's of them and they all do this in defense.Hurts like hell too.