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How Fast Could the Dinosaurs Known as Sauropods Move Their Tails?

Sauropods were a type of plant-eating dinosaur that arose in the Triassic and Jurassic periods and survived for 100 million years. One of their most distinctive features was their size -- some weighed close to 100 tons and reached heights of up to 60 feet (18 m). Sauropods also had very long necks and tails. The tails of some sauropods resembled whips, as they were wider at the base and narrower on the tip.

According to some computer models, sauropods could move their tails in ways that could cause the tail to exceed the speed of sound, causing a powerful sonic boom. This means that they could move their tails fast enough to break the sound barrier, more than 700 miles (1,200 km) per hour.

This research and computer modelling was the result of a collaboration between Dr. Nathan P. Myhrvold of the Microsoft Corporation and Dr. Philip J. Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta. However, some scientists argue that although it might have been technically possible for sauropods to move their tails at supersonic speeds, it is unlikely that they did so. Using their tails in this way may have been too painful and damaging for the sauropods.

More about sauropods:

  • Sauropod fossils have been found on every continent on Earth.

  • Diplodocus, Apatosaurus and Argentinosaurus are examples of sauropods.

  • Sauropod is Greek for "lizard foot," although the feet of sauropods do not resemble those of a lizard.

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More Info: American Museum of Natural History

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