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Re: Height of extinct creatures

There is, of course, the endlesss problem of being quoted out of context and
also of having the quote misattributed.

In that humble spirit, I'm including a post that was apparently lost somewhere
between me and the listserver.

This, hopefully, explains in context what the "issue" is.....

One of these days, I suspect it will get into my head that "irony" is a
difficult thing to convey in mailing lists! :-)

----  The "missing" Post!  ----

Just so that this doesn't all get spread too thin, a whole range of terms
have been introduced here (and please bear in mind that the origin of all this
is to
explain to a non-native speaker of English the difference between "height" and

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 more useful, but much more difficult to determine (see the various
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 feet 4 inches tall." It becomes problematical in a sentence like: "The
apatosaurus was 15 feet tall." It is a little hard to know just what the second

So,  clearly, height becomes a "desireable" word.  However, there appear to
be several flavors of "height."  So far, we have "Head Height" (which is
equivalent to "tall"), "shoulder height" and "hip height."

My journalistic take on all this is that the word "height" is almost
useless for a 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

Let's say, hypothetically speaking,  that you are standing in front of a
classroom full of 7 year olds with  pictures of a giraffe, a Brachiosaurus, an
Oviraptor, a T. rex, an ape, and a human being.  In typical, annoying, naive 7
year old
fashion,  a little girl asks: "How tall are each of these animals?"  How does
answer her simply and clearly? If you were to draw the little labels onto each
picture, where would you put them?

Steve Jackson wrote:

> Quoth Sarima:
> >Perhaps someone ought to come up with a schema about how to measure each
> >and every extinct animal so that there would be less semantic confusion --
> >especially for
> non-English speakers.
> I think we are asking for too much organization here  :-)  a lot of the
> question of "what is the REAL height" is subjective, and the point about
> the giraffe is very well taken. But you would still expect to measure its
> shorter-necked relatives to the shoulder. So if I were writing up the
> giraffe, I would give its height at the shoulder to be consistent, AND its
> ground-to-crown height to explain what we find most remarkable about the
> creature.
> Wouldn't it make more sense just to specify each measurement being used,
> rather than toss around the unqualified term "height"? (I think "length" is
> less ambiguous; am I wrong? I suppose "length" of an octopus is sort of
> silly. "Diameter"?)
> In the decidedly nonspecialist DINO HUNT game, I said simply "height" if I
> was using ground-to-crown-if-standing-erect height, as for theropods
> (though if the body stance was normally horizontal, this is not really as
> meaningful as we used to think it was). I used "height at hip" or "height
> at shoulder" for most quadrupeds; when I had both, I used the larger one
> (e.g., for sauropods who stood taller at the hip). I didn't give a height
> stat for creatures with the crocodile bauplan; their length is the
> interesting thing.
> Hey, if I can be specific, the professionals can do it . . .
>  Steve Jackson - yes, of SJ Games - yes, we won the Secret Service case
>   Learn Web or die - http://www.sjgames.com/ - dinosaurs, Lego, Kahlua!
>           The heck with PGP keys; finger for Geek Code. Fnord.

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