Scientific American explores a strange anatomical detail for a very large dinosaur indeed – a whip-like tail that could actually have cracked like a whip:
The idea that Apatosaurus might have used its tail like a bullwhip—to scare off predators, communicate or even show off for potential mates—gained traction about 20 years ago. That’s when paleontologist Philip Currie of the University of Alberta teamed with Nathan Myhrvold to create a computer simulation that showed the whip-cracking tail was plausible. ….
This week at a meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, Myhrvold, Currie and Dhileep Sivam, also of Intellectual Ventures, unveiled a quarter-scale physical model of an Apatosaurus tail made from aluminum vertebrae and steel tendons.
A full-size apatosaur whipping its tail in this way could probably have produced a sound loud enough to shatter human eardrums.