Swooping out of the sky, Smaug’s fiery breath and wrecking-ball tail deal a one-two punch to a stone tower.
|The basic parts of the tail skeleton shown on a duckbilled dinosaur.|
|Raptor tails are strange! Elongated vertebral rods form an upper quiver and elongated chevron rods form a lower quiver. Skeletal image of Velociraptor courtesy of Scott Hartman (www.skeletaldrawing.com|
|The strongly curved tail of Bambiraptor.|
|Despite its caudal rods, this Velociraptor tail is preserved in a graceful S-shaped curve.|
|Cross-section through the tail of Deinonychus showing the arrangement of the caudal rods. The arrangement of the rods made the tail harder to bend up-and-down than side-to-side.|
|A cylindrical tight-rope walker’s pole is the wrong analogue. Instead think of a meter stick, which may be bent with moderate force, but only perpendicular to its broadest plane.|
|Digital reconstructions of the tail of Velociraptor, showing the tail and hip skeleton (A), the caudofemoral muscles (B), and the full muscle reconstruction (C).|
|Digital reconstructions of the tail of Rhamphorhynchus, showing the tail and hip skeleton (A), the caudofemoral muscles (B), and the full muscle reconstruction (C)|
Microraptor has wings and caudal rods.
|Anchiornis has wings but not caudal rods.|