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Size (was Re: Height (was Re: Velociraptor))
Just so that this doesn't all get spread too thin, a whole range of terms have
introduced here (and please bear in mind that the origin of all this is to
to a non-native speaker of English the difference between "height" and "length")
Terms in discussion:
I think we would all agree that "height" or "tall" does not equal "length" in
almost any circumstance. Please disagree now or forever hold your peace.
Size, however, is a little ambiguous and, as Dr. Holtz says, "mass" might be
useful, but much more difficult to determine (see the various historical posts
about dipping various things in water and cleaning up the mess, etc. etc. etc.
just so we don't start that one over again.)
Now, back to "height" and "tall."
"Tall" is a common English word for "heel" to "top of head" as in: "Tommy is 5
4 inches tall." It becomes problematical in a sentence like: "The apatosaurus
15 feet tall." It is a little hard to know just what the second example means.
So, clearly, height becomes a "desireable" word. However, there appear to be
several flavors of "height." So far, we have "Head Height" (which is
"tall"), "shoulder height" and "hip height."
My journalistic take on all this is that the word "height" is almost useless
non-professional readership because there are too many spins on the word.
Clearly, as Tom says, many dinosaurs tend to be "taller" at the hip.
However, how does one describe, say, "T. rex" or the proffered "Brachiosaurus?"
Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that you are standing in front of a
full of 7 year olds with pictures of a giraffe, a Brachiosaurus, an Oviraptor,
T. rex, an ape, and a human being. In typical, annoying, naive 7 year old
a little girl asks: "How tall are each of these animals?" How does one answer
simply and clearly? If you were to draw the little labels onto each picture,
would you put them?
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
> At 06:46 PM 11/16/97 -0500, you wrote:
> Actually, the "height" for dinosaurs is often "hip height", not "shoulder
> height". As upright diapsids, the hips of dinosaurs tend to be taller than
> the shoulders (Brachiosaurus a notable exception).
> Of course, "mass" is generally a more informative measurment of size in
> biology (as many important features of physiology scale to mass more closely
> than to lengths or heights). However, mass estimates are somewhat (!) more
> difficult to derive from fossil material than linear dimensions.
> Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
> Vertebrate Paleontologist Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
> Dept. of Geology Email:email@example.com
> University of Maryland Phone:301-405-4084
> College Park, MD 20742 Fax: 301-314-9661
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