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Re: Animal Planet - Giants

Dear Jim, Sounds like you've just joined the "Ignored
Scientific Consultants Club"! Last summer I did some
research and review for Evergreen Fims on their
BEASTS for the Discovery Channel. The final production
was was a mercifully changed version of the the
horrendously inaccurate, fanciful scenarios in the
original screenplay; these are too numerous to go
into, but I wanted to say that I understand your
frustration in providing factual data, only to have it
totally or partly ignored. The one saving grace in the
program was a scene in which a hunting party of H.
heidelbergensis pursue a group of giant Megaloceros
deer, their torches blazing, to the edge of a
waterfall, only to have them extinguished by the
spray; the hapless hunters must then face the wrath of
the giant ungulates. -- Mark Hallett
--- "James R. Cunningham" <jrccea@bellsouth.net>
> 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

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