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Re: Animal speeds

At 07:32 +1000 29/9/97, Dann Pigdon wrote:
>There has been much controversy over the top speeds of
>animals over the years. No-one can seem to agree on just how fast
>a cheetah is, and although more recent attempts claim to have a
>definitive answer, well, we've heard that before. The same seems
>to be true of elephants in recent postings. What I want to know
>is: given the problems associated with the usual methods of
>calculating speed, has anyone ever bothered to just point an accurate
>radar gun, or an equivalent laser device, at the things?

They daren't do this.  The Elephants all have very good lawyers, and
would dispute the validity of speed cameras due to failure on the
part of the researchers to record the Elephant's license plate
correctly.  Not only that, elephants never forget - a trait
prosecution lawyers dislike intensely.

More seriously, one of the problems with such techniques is that radar
guns are designed to take the speed of large, metal objects moving
in relatively straight lines.  Cheatahs, and other fast moving animals,
tend not to move in straight lines (as they are either dodging something
chasing them or chasing a dodging target).  Elephants charging in a
straight line would quite likely be charging *towards* the speed
camera, and the operator would be advised to run away rather than
continue to record...

I have to say that, having seen African elephants in the wild, even though
I wasn't formally studying them, a top speed of 12 Mph is contrary to
my experience.  I'd be interested to see the research where Greg Paul clocked
an elephant moving at a maximum speed of 12Mph and how he concluded
that this was indeed the maximum speed of both that individual elephant
and elephants in general.

As regards the other point in the original point, that "...fliers and swimmers
can migrate across oceans and continents, while no land animal tries to do
so.", this is clearly false.  There are several species of land animal which
migrate for considerable distances, Caribou, Wildebeest, Zebra to name
but a few.  Certainly no land animals regularly migrate across oceans,
but this is more to do with the ability to swim long distances, than the
ability to walk long distances.

--- Derek

Derek Tearne.   ---   @URL Internet Consultants  ---  http://url.co.nz
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.