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Re: Upper size limits in dinosaurs and whales
>The question I posed was, simply, "How can whales grow so large?" and my
>answer was that the buoyancy of water permits a much larger body size than
>would be possible on land. I even said that a hundred-ton animal on land my
>be crushed by its own weight.
>Well, of course, along comes David Gillette's book on Seismosaurus, with
>estimates in the hundred-ton range for both Seismosaurus and Ultrasaurus.
>So much for my point.
>What I would like to know, though, is: are these weight estimates generally
Actually, no, they are not generally accepted. Masses based on accurate
scale models of these animals indicate masses of about only 50 - 55 tonnes.
However, the giant titanosaurian Argentinosaurus huiculensis appears to
have massed about 90 tonnes, and the North American diplodocid Amphicoelias
might (very questionably) have been even bigger.
>Has anyone analysed the mechanics of such a beast? And is the
>reason a large whale dies on the beach independent of size (as it might be
>because even dolphins die during strandings, I suppose).
>How can whales grow so large?
>Water can support the weight of even the largest whale. On land, a
>hundred-ton animal might be crushed by its own weight.
Well, (except for the hundred-ton number, maybe) this is still a true statement.
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile Phone: 703-648-5280
U.S. Geological Survey FAX: 703-648-5420
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA 22092