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Paul Sparks wrote (9/30/97; 11:19a):
>Norm King suggested that giraffes might not gallop due to their short
>body length. On Nat'l Geo last night a giraffe galloped right along
>with the best of them: front feet together, gather spine, back feet
>together over lap front feet as the spine expands.
I'm glad Paul responded to my posting. It seems like some of mine are
real conversation stoppers, and I sometimes wonder if anybody else
As to Paul's posting--No, I only said that giraffes often amble. I
believe they are one of the few mammals that do it under natural
conditions (i.e., no training, as with horses). Giraffes can gallop just
fine, as Paul pointed out.
Again, relative to dinosaurs gaits, I think they did not amble. I also
think they did not gallop, for reasons Paul alluded to. Namely, the
anatomy of mammal spines differs from that of quadrupedal dinosaurs in
several respects, at least one of which may be significant here. Mammal
vertebrae in the thoracic region are different from those in the lumbar
region in ways that reflect the up-and-down springing action involved
with the gallop. Dinosaur vertebrae are not differentiated in the same
way, and I don't think any quadrupedal dinosaur even had what might be
called a lumbar region. I suspect the very different pelvic anatomy also
contributes to differences in gaits. So, even if dinosaurs had a
"gallop-like" gait, it nevertheless could not have been the same as the
gallop of mammals, and therefore probably should be called something
I hope nobody suggests a name for such a speculative dinosaurian gait at
this time, however, since we do not know if it existed.
Here's some food for thought: Would a quadrupedal bird gallop?
Norman R. King tel: (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences fax: (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712 e-mail: email@example.com