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Open letter to science editors


Ted Holden

A careful study of the sizes of the giant dinosaurs creatures and of what it
would take to deal with such sizes in our world, the felt effect of gravity
being what it is now, indicates that something was massively different in the
world which these creatures inhabited.

A look at sauropod dinosaurs as we know them today requires that we relegate
the brontosaur, once thought to be one of the largest sauropods, to
welterweight or at most middleweight status. Fossil finds dating from the
1970's dwarf him. The Avon field Guide to Dinosaurs shows a brachiosaur
(larger than a brontosaur), a supersaur, and an ultrasaur juxtaposed, and the
ultrasaur dwarfs the others. Christopher McGowan's "Dinosaurs, Spitfires, &
Sea Dragons", Harvard, 1991 cites a 180 ton weight estimate for the ultrasaur
(page 118), and (page 104) describes the volume-based methods of estimating
dinosaur weights. McGowan is Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Royal
Ontario Museum.

This same look requires that dinosaur lifting requirements be compared to
human lifting capabilities. One objection which might be raised to this
would be that animal muscle tissue was somehow "better" than that of humans.
This, however, is known not to be the case; for instance, from Knut Nielson's,
"Scaling, Why is Animal size So Important", Cambridge Univ Press, 1984, page
163, we have:

"It appears that the maximum force or stress that can be exerted by any
muscle is inherent in the structure of the muscle filaments. The maximum
force is roughly 4 to 4 kgf/cm2 cross section of muscle (300-400 kN/m2).
This force is body-size independent and is the same for mouse and elephant

As creatures get larger, weight, which is proportional to volume, goes up in
proportion to the cube of the increase in dimension. Strength, on the other
hand, is known to be roughly proportional to cross section of muscle for any
particular limb, and goes up in proportion to the square of the increase in
dimension. This is the familiar "square-cube" problem. The normal
calculation for this is to simply divide by 2/3 power of body weight, and
this is indeed the normal scaling factor for all weight lifting events, that
is, it lets us tell if a 200 lb athlete has actually done a "better" lift
than the champion of the 180 lb group.

Consider the case of Bill Kazmaier, the king of the power lifters in the
seventies and eighties. Power lifters are, in the author's estimation, the
strongest of all athletes; they concentrate on the three most difficult tota
-body lifts, i.e. benchpress, squat, and dead-lift. They work out many hours
a day and, it is fairly common knowledge, use food to flavor their anabolic
steroids with. No animal the same weight as one of these men could be
presumed to be as strong. Kazmaier was able to do squats and dead lifts with
weights between 1000 and 1100 lbs on a bar, assuming he was fully warmed up.


Any animal has to be able to lift its own weight off the ground, i.e. stand
up, with no more difficulty than Kazmaier experiences doing a 1000 lb squat.
Consider, however, what would happen to Mr. Kazmaier, were he to be scaled up
to 70,000 lbs, the weight commonly given for the brontosaur. Kazmaier's
maximum effort at standing, fully warmed up, assuming the 1000 lb squat, was
1340 lbs (1000 for the bar and 340 for himself). The scaled maximum lift
would be a solution to:

1340/340^.667 = x/70,000^.667 or 47,558 lbs.

That is to say, the maximum weight his muscles could lift when scaled to the
size of an Brontosaur would be 47,558 lbs. If he weighed 70,000 lbs, he'd
not be able to lift his weight off the ground!

To believe then, that a brontosaur could stand at 70,000 lbs, one has to
believe that a creature whose weight was largely gut and the vast digestive
mechanism involved in processing huge amounts of low-value foodstuffs, was
somehow stronger than a creature its size which was almost entirely muscle,
and far better trained and conditioned than would ever be found amongst
grazing animals. That is not only ludicrous in the case of the brontosaur,
but the calculations only get worse when you begin trying to scale upwards to
the supersaur and ultrasaur at their sizes.

Another way to look at the problem of size vs. strength under present Earth
gravity is to ask- how heavy can an animal get to be in our world? How heavy
would Mr. Kazmaier be at the point at which the square-cube problem made it
as difficult for him just to stand up as it is for him to do 1000 lb squats at
his present size of 340 lbs? The answer is simply the solution to:

1340/340^.667 = x/x^.667

or just under 21,000 lbs. In reality, elephants do not appear to get quite to
that point. McGowan (Dinosaurs, Spitfires, & Sea Dragons, p. 97) claims that
a Toronto Zoo specimen was the largest in North America at 14,300 lbs. One
has no difficulty visualizing the slow, lumbering, weight encumbered movements
of elephants. Clearly they are operating at the limits of biological size.
Even the scaling up of the Rhinoscerous, as the popular Paleontoligist Bob
Bakker is fond of doing in defense of sauropod mobility, would run you
straight into the scaling formula cited above, independent of leg length

Again, in all cases, we are comparing the absolute maximum effort for a human
weight lifter to lift and hold something for two seconds versus the
sauropod's requirement to move around and walk all day long with scaled
weight greater than these weights involved in the maximum, one-shot, two-
second effort. That just can't happen.


A second category of evidence for attenuated felt effect of gravity arises
from the study of sauropod dinosaurs' necks. Scientists who study sauropod
dinosaurs are now claiming that they held their heads low, because they could
not have gotten blood to their brains had they held them high. McGowan
(again, Dinosaurs, Spitfires & Sea Dragons) goes into this in detail (pages
101-120). He mentions the fact that a giraffe's blood pressure, at 200-300
mm Hg, far higher than that of any other animal, would probably rupture the
vascular system of any other animal, and is maintained by thick arterial
walls and by a very tight skin which apparently acts like a jet pilot's
pressure suit. A giraffe's head might reach to 20'. How a sauropod might
have gotten blood to its brain at 50' or 60' is the real question.

Two articles which mention this problem appeared in the 12/91 issue of Natural
History. In "Sauropods and Gravity", Harvey B. Lillywhite of Univ. Fla.,
Gainesville, notes:

"...in a Barosaurus with its head held high, the heart had to work against a
gravitational pressure of about 590 mm of mercury (Hg). In order for the
heart to eject blood into the arteries of the neck, its pressure must exceed
that of the blood pushing against the opposite side of the outflow valve.
Moreover, some additional pressure would have been needed to overcome the
resistance of smaller vessels within the head for blood flow to meet the
requirements for brain and facial tissues. Therefore, hearts of Barosaurus
must have generated pressures at least six times greater than those of humans
and three to four times greater than those of giraffes."

In the same issue of Natural History, Peter Dodson ("Lifestyles of the Huge
and Famous"), mentions that:

"Brachiosaurus was built like a giraffe and may have fed like one. But most
sauropods were built quite differently. At the base of the neck, a
sauropod's vertebral spines unlike those of a giraffe, were weak and low and
did not provide leverage for the muscles required to elevate the head in a
high position. Furthermore, the blood pressure required to pump blood up to
the brain, thirty or more feet in the air, would have placed extraordinary
demands on the heart and would seemingly have placed the animal at severe
risk of a stroke, an aneurism, or some other circulatory disaster. If
sauropods fed with the neck extended just a little above heart level, say
from ground level up to fifteen feet, the blood pressure required would have
been far more reasonable."

It turns out that a problem every bit as bad or worse than the blood pressure
problem would arise, perceived gravity being what it is now, were sauropods
to hold their heads out just above horizontally as Dodson and others are
suggesting. Try holding your arm out horizontally for more than a minute or
two, and then imagine your arm being 40' long and 30,000 lbs...

An ultrasaur or seismosaur with a neck 40'-60' long and weighing 25000-40000
lbs, would be looking at 400,000 to nearly a million foot pounds of torque
were one of them to try to hold his neck out horizontally. That's crazy.
You don't hang a 30,000 lb load 40' off into space even if it is made out of
wood and structural materials, much less flesh and blood. No building
inspector in America could be bribed sufficiently to let you build such a

And so, sauropods (in our gravity) couldn't stand, couldn't hold their heads
up, couldn't hold them out either. Moreover, the fossil record shows that
there were a large number of "giant" species- giant insects, giant mammals
such as a beaver the size of a kodiak bear, giant fish and flying creatures
that have not survived into our present era. The only way of making sense
out of this evidence is to understand that at one time and for whatever
reason, the force of gravity operated differently on planet Earth.

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