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Animal Planet - Giants



Some months ago, the producers of some of the Animal Planet programming 
contacted me and asked me to do some comparative drag polars for eagles,
hang gliders, and Quetzalcoatlus for them, and to provide some other
Quetz information and comparisons for an upcoming episode with Jeff
Corwin on Giant animals.  There wasn't much similarity between Quetz and
the other two, but that wasn't quite what they wanted to hear.  It
didn't take long to realize the segment was going to be on the far side
of ridiculous.  Till I saw the episode tonight, I didn't realize quite
how far on the other side.  Quetz didn't stand 30 feet tall.  The
shoulders were at about 8 feet in a normal stance, the 10 foot long neck
could add about another 7 feet in height, and the 7-8 foot long head,
wouldn't usually be extended straight upward (partly because the neck
couldn't bend into a suitable position to get 17 feet of head/neck
extension above the shoulders).  Standing height would have been about
14-16 feet.  A fair bit shy of 30.  If the animal really wanted to stick
its snout in the air, it might have managed 22 feet in an extreme and
odd posture.  Speaking of which, the neck proportions on the computer
generated creature were wrong, The hindlimbs and feet were proportioned
incorrectly, while cruising they showed the hindlimbs in a non-cruise
position, and the real neck was incapable of bending into the position
shown in the tuck & pluck 'fish snatch' because of vertebral hard stop
limits.  These critters were skimmers, not tuck & pluckers.  I also
thought that it was interesting that the wings would have suffered
catastrophic inflight flutter and failure if configured like the
computer beastie.  I noticed that Corwin said that to understand how the
creature launched, you had to go to the Appalachian mountains (which
they then did), but that brought up two problems. One, nearly as I could
tell they never did mention how the animal launched, and two -- at the
end of the Cretaceous, the terrain where Quetz was found in the Big
Bend  was far flatter than the rather hilly Appalachians, so the
mountains weren't pertinent anyway.  Plus Corwin adds a nonexistent
syllable to Quetzalcoatlus, calling it 'Quetzalcoat-Ah-lus'.  Typical of
the quality of the entire segment.  To make a long story short, they
didn't use anything I  said.  Thank God for that.
All the best,
JimC