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(PseudoHumor) How to test elephant speeds for sure
Looking back, I've noticed a rather extensive thread on elephant speeds,
debating the absolute maximum speeds of elephants. Greg Paul suggested a
lower estimate of 12 mph while most of his opponents seem to stick with a
higher estimate of 25 mph. All this rather flamebait issue seems to have
risen from the confusion stemming from the lack of formal and
widely-reconized attempts to measure elephant speeds, once and for all for
the record. (However, though 25 mph is by far the most common measure, I
wonder if it sounds a little high) Not wishing to start a rather tired
thread however, I would like to suggest a method to discover the absolute
speed of elephants.
Most methods I see used to measure elephant speeds might be not be accurate
due to the elephant itself being unmotivated to run/amble at its top speeds.
(Prehaps leading to Greg's 12 mpg?) However, may any paleontologist wish to
risk the wrath of animal-rights groups, I do suggest a method of motivating
the animal to run/amble at its maxium attainable speed, hence reducing the
amount of confusion and debate and leading to more consistent results:
The idea is to put the elephant in a strengthened tunnel wide enough to
allow its bulk to pass through. The tunnel in itself should be long enough
to allow for the animal to reach its top speed and maintain it for a while.
After the animal is inserted in one end, fire is enginered at one end of the
tunnen behind the animal to induce it to run/amble by instinct, away from
the flames in a straight line. The flames can be made to "chase" the
elephant via controled used of multi-valved gas pipes running the length of
the tunnel. At which point, we can be reasonably sure the animal should be
quite motivated to move at its maximum speed. This result can then be
repeated on different animals to get a sizeable sample range and from there
we should be able to obtain a good measure of the animals' typical top
speed. Any animal that failed to survive testing should be reglated as
An alternative, and cheaper experiment is to set the elephants' tail on fire
and see how it runs, but the animal might not run in a straight line, or
might catch fire and die before reaching its top speed. To observe speeds in
the wild, prehaps starting a massive bushfire near a herd of elephants can
work too. With so many individuals of different sizes, it provides an
excellent experimental platform to observe elephant speeds.
It's a flame-attracting experiment.
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