by Ted Holden
THE ANOMALIST: 1
Scientists delight in devising
explanations for the great dinosaur extinctions.
But there are several questions which
they have failed to even ask, much less tried to answer.
Why, for instance, in all of the
time claimed to have passed since the dinosaur extinctions,
has nothing ever re-evolved to the sizes of the large
If such sizes worked for
creatures which ruled the Earth for tens of millions of
years, then why would not some species of elephant or
rhinoceros have evolved to such a size again?
What kinds of problems, if any,
would sauropod sizes entail in our world as it is presently
Could it be that some aspect of
our environment might have to be massively different for
such creatures to exist at all?
A careful study of the sizes of these
antediluvian creatures, and what it would take to deal with such
sizes in our world, has led me to believe that the super animals of
Earth's past could not live in our present world at all.
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. Fossils found in the 1970's now dwarf this
Both the brachiosaur and the supersaur
were larger than the brontosaur, and the ultrasaur appears to have
dwarfed them all.1 The ultrasaur is now estimated to have
weighed 180 tons.2
A comparison of dinosaur lifting requirements to human lifting
capabilities is enlightening, though there might be objections to
doing so. One objection that might be raised is that animal muscle
tissue was somehow "better" than that of humans. This, however, is
known not to be the case.
According to Knut Schmidt-Nielson,
Scaling: Why is Animal Size So Important?,
the maximum stress or force that can be exerted by any muscle is
independent of body-size and is the same for mouse or elephant
Another objection might be that sauropods were aquatic creatures.
But nobody believes that anymore; they had no adaptation for aquatic
life, their teeth show wear and tear which does not come from eating
soft aquatic vegetation, and trackways show them walking on land
with no difficulty.
A final objection might be that dinosaurs were somehow more
"efficient" than top human athletes. This, however, goes against all
observed data. As creatures get bulkier, they become less efficient;
the layers of thick muscle in limbs begin to get in each other's way
and bind to some extent. For this reason, scaled lifts for the
super-heavyweight athletes are somewhat lower than for, say, the
By "scaled lift" I mean a lift record
divided by the two-thirds power of the athlete's body weight.
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
the 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.4
Consider the case of Bill Kazmaier, the king of the power
lifters in the 1970s and 1980s.
Power lifters are, in my estimation, the
strongest of all athletes; they concentrate on the three most
difficult total-body lifts, i.e. bench press, squat, and dead-lift.
They work out many hours a day and, it is fairly common knowledge,
use food to flavor their anabolic steroids. 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 1,000 and 1,100 pounds on a bar, assuming
he was fully warmed up.
Standing Up at
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 1,000-pound squat.
Consider, however, what would happen to
Mr. Kazmaier, were he to be scaled up to 70,000 pounds, the weight
commonly given for the brontosaur. Kazmaier's maximum effort at
standing, fully warmed up, assuming the 1,000 pound squat, was 1,340
pounds (1,000 pounds for the bar and 340 pounds for himself). The
scaled maximum lift would be 47,558 pounds (the solution to:
1,340/340.667 = x/70,000.667).
Clearly, he would not be able to lift
his weight off the ground!
A sauropod dinosaur had four legs you might say; so what happens if
Mr. Kazmaier uses arms and legs at 70,000 pounds? The truth is that
the squat uses almost every muscle in the athlete's body very nearly
to the limits, but in this case, it does not even matter.
A near maximum bench press effort for
Mr. Kazmaier would fall around 600 pounds. This merely changes the
1,340 pounds to 1,940 pounds in the equation above, and the answer
comes out as 68,853 pounds. Even using all muscles, some more than
once, the strongest man who we know anything about would not be able
to lift his own weight off the ground at 70,000 pounds.
To believe then, that a brontosaur could stand at 70,000 pounds, one
has to believe that a creature whose weight was mostly gut and the
vast digestive mechanism involved in processing huge amounts of
low-value foodstuffs was, somehow, stronger than an almost entirely
muscular creature its size, far better trained and conditioned than
any grazing animal.
That is not only ludicrous in the case
of the brontosaur, but the calculations only become more absurd when
you try to scale up to the supersaur and ultrasaur at their sizes.
How heavy can an animal get to be in our world, then? How heavy
would Mr. Kazmaier be at the point at which the square-cube problem
made it as difficult for him to stand up as it is for him to do
1,000-pound squats at his present weight of 340 pounds?
The answer is 20,803 pounds (the
solution to: 1,340/340.667 = x/x.667). In reality, elephants do not
appear to get quite to that point.
Christopher McGowan, curator of
vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, claims
that a Toronto Zoo specimen was the largest in North America at
14,300 pounds,5 and Smithsonian personnel once informed
me that the gigantic bush elephant specimen which appears at their
Museum of Natural History weighed around 8 tons.
A study of the sauropod dinosaurs' long neck further underscores the
problem these creatures would have living under current
gravitational conditions. Scientists who study sauropod dinosaurs
now claim that they held their heads low, because they could not
have gotten blood to their brains had they held them high.6
McGowan mentions the fact that a
giraffe's blood pressure - which at 200-to-300 mm Hg (millimeters
of mercury) is far higher than that of any other
animal-would probably rupture the vascular system of any other
animal. The giraffe's blood pressure is maintained by thick arterial
walls and by a very tight skin that apparently acts like a jet
pilot's pressure suit. A giraffe's head might reach to 20 feet.
How a sauropod might have gotten blood to its brain at 50 or 60 feet
is the real question.
"Gravity is a pervasive force in the
environment and has dramatically shaped the evolution of plants
and animals," notes Harvey Lillywhite, a zoologist at the
University of Florida at Gainesville.
As some land animals evolved large body
"cardiovascular specializations were
needed to help them withstand the weight of blood in long
vertical vessels. Perhaps nowhere in the history of life were
these challenges greater than among the gigantic, long-necked
Barosaurus to hold its head high,
Lillywhite has calculated that its heart,
"must have generated pressures at
least six times greater than those of humans and three to four
times greater than those of giraffes." 7
Faced with the same dilemma, University
of Pennsylvania geologist Peter Dodson remarked that while
the Brachiosaurus was built like a giraffe and may have fed like
one, most sauropods were built quite differently.
"At the base of the neck," Dodson
writes, "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 aneurysm, or some other circulatory disaster." 8
Within recorded history, Central Asians
have tried to breed hunting eagles for size and strength, and have
not gotten beyond 25 pounds or thereabouts. Even at that weight they
are able to take off only with the greatest difficulty.
Something was vastly different in the
The only way to keep the required blood pressure "reasonable,"
Dodson goes on to add,
is "if sauropods fed with the neck
extended just a little above heart level, say from ground level
up to fifteen feet..."
One problem with this solution is that
the good leaves were, in all likelihood, above the 20-foot mark; an
ultrasaur that could not raise its head above 20 feet would probably
Dodson, it should also be noted,
entirely neglects the dilemma of the brachiosaur. And there is
another problem, which is worse. Try holding your arm out
horizontally for even a few minutes, and then imagine your arm being
40 feet long.
Given a scale model and a weight figure for the entire dinosaur, it
is possible to use volume-based techniques to estimate weight for a
sauropod's neck. An ultrasaur is generally thought to be a near
cousin - if not simply a very large specimen - of the brachiosaur.
The technique, then, is to measure the
volume of water which the sauropod's neck (severed at the shoulders
and filled with bondo or auto-body putty) displaces,
versus the volume which the entire brachiosaur displaces, and simply
extrapolate to the 360,000-pound figure for the ultrasaur. I did
this using a Larami Corporation model of a brachiosaur, which is to
To make a long story short, the neck
weighs 28,656 pounds, and the center of gravity of that neck is 15
feet from the shoulders, the neck itself being 38 feet long.
This equates to 429,850 foot-pounds of
If we assume the sauropod could lift its head at least as easily as
a human with an 18-inch neck can move his head against a
neck-exercise machine set to 130 pounds, then the sauropod would
require the muscular strength of a neck 17.4 feet in diameter.
With a more reasonable assumption of
effort, equivalent to the human using a 50-pound setting, the
sauropod would require a neck of over 20 feet in diameter. But the
sauropod's neck, at its widest, apparently measured about ten feet
by seven feet where it joined the shoulders, then narrowed rapidly
to about six or seven feet in diameter over the remainder of its
McGowan and others claim that the head
and neck were supported by a dorsal ligament and not muscles, but we
know of no living creature using ligaments to support a body
structure which its available musculature cannot sustain.
In all likelihood, sauropods, in our
gravity at least, could neither hold their heads up nor out.
The large flying creatures of the past would also have had
difficulties in our present-day gravity.
In the antediluvian world, 350-pound
flying creatures soared in skies which no longer permit flying
creatures above 30 pounds or so. Modern birds of prey, like the
Argentinian teratorn, weighing 170 to 200 pounds, with 30-foot
wingspans, also flew. Within recorded history, Central Asians have
been trying to breed hunting eagles for size and strength, and have
not gotten them beyond 25 pounds or thereabouts. Even at that weight
they are able to take off only with the greatest difficulty.
Something was vastly different in the
Nothing much larger than 30 pounds or so flies anymore, and those
creatures, albatrosses and a few of the largest condors and eagles,
are marginal. Albatrosses, notably, are called "goonie birds" by
sailors because of the extreme difficulty they experience taking off
and landing, their landings being badly controlled crashes, and this
despite long wings made for maximum lift.
In remote times, the felt effect of the force of gravity on Earth
must have been much less for such giant creatures to be able to fly.
No flying creature has since re-evolved into anything of such size,
and the one or two birds that have retained this size have forfeited
flight, their wings becoming vestigial.
Adrian Desmond, in his book The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs,
has a good deal to say about some of the problems the Pteranodon
faced at just 40-to-50 pounds. Scientists once thought this
pterosaur was the largest creature that ever flew.
The bird's great size and negligible
weight must have made for a rather fragile creature.
"It is easy to imagine that the
paper-thin tubular bones supporting the gigantic wings would
have made landing dangerous," writes Desmond.
"How could the creature have
alighted without shattering all of its bones? How could it have
taken off in the first place? It was obviously unable to flap
12-foot wings strung between straw-thin tubes. Many larger birds
have to achieve a certain speed by running and flapping before
they can take off and others have to produce a wing beat speed
approaching hovering in order to rise.
To achieve hovering with a 23-foot
wingspread, Pteranodon would have required 220 pounds of flight
muscles as efficient as those in humming birds. But it had
reduced its musculature to about 8 pounds, so it is
inconceivable that Pteranodon could have taken off actively."
the Pteranodon could not flap its
wings, the only flying it could ever do, Desmond concludes, was as a
It was, he says,
"the most advanced glider the animal
kingdom has produced."10
Desmond notes a fairly reasonably modus
operandi for the Pteranodon.
Not only did the bird have a throat
pouch like a pelican but its remains were found with fish fossils,
which seems to suggest a pelican-like existence, soaring over the
waves and snapping up fish without landing.
If so, then the Pteranodon should have
been practically immune from the great extinctions of past ages.
Large animals would have the greatest difficulty getting to high
ground and other safe havens at times of floods and other global
catastrophes. But high places safe from flooding were always there,
oceans were always there, and fish were always there.
The Pteranodon's way of life should have
been impervious to all mishap.
There is one other problem. The Pteranodon was not the largest bird.
giant Teratorn finds of Argentina
were not known when Desmond's book was written. News of this bird's
existence first appeared in the 1980s. The Terotorn was a 160-to-200
pound eagle with a 27-foot wingspan, a modern bird whose existence
involved, among other things, flapping wings and aerial maneuvers.
But how so? How could it even have
How large can an animal be and still fly?
"With each increase in size, and
therefore also weight," writes Desmond, "a flying animal needs a
concomitant increase in power (to beat the wings in a flapper
and to hold and maneuver them in a glider), but power is
supplied by muscles which themselves add still more weight to
The larger a flyer becomes the
disproportionately weightier it grows by the addition of its own
power supply. There comes a point when the weight is just too
great to permit the machine to remain airborne. Calculations
bearing on size and power suggested that the maximum weight that
a flying vertebrate can attain is about 50 pounds..."
It is for this reason that scientists
believed Pteranodon and its slightly larger but lesser known
Jordanian ally Titanopteryx were the largest flying animals of all
The experience from our present world
coincides well with this and, in fact, don't go quite that high. The
biggest flying creatures which we actually see are albatrosses,
geese, and the like, at 30 to 35 pounds.
The Pteranodon's reign as the largest flying creature of all time
actually fell in the early 1970s when Douglas Lawson of the
University of California found partial skeletons of three
ultra-large pterosaurs in Big Bend National Park in Texas.
This discovery forced scientists to rethink their ideas on the
maximum size permissible in flying vertebrates.
The immense size of the
pterosaurs may be gauged by
noting that the humerus or upper arm bones of these creatures is
fully twice the length of Pteranodon's. Lawson estimated the
wingspan for this living glider at over fifty feet.
The Big Bend pterosaurs were not fishers. Their remains were found
in rocks that were formed some 250 miles inland and nowhere near any
lake deposits. This led Lawson to suggest that these birds were
carrion feeders, gorging themselves on rotting mounds of dismembered
But this hypothesis raised numerous
questions in author Desmond's mind.
"How they could have taken to the
air after gorging themselves is something of a puzzle," he
"Wings of such an extraordinary size
could not have been flapped when the animal was grounded. Since
the pterosaurs were unable to run in order to launch themselves
they must have taken off vertically.
Pigeons are only able to take-off
vertically by reclining their bodies and clapping the wings in
front of them; as flappers, the Texas pterosaurs would have
needed very tall stilt-like legs to raise the body enough to
allow the 24-foot wings to clear the ground.
The main objection, however, still
rests in the lack of adequate musculature for such an
The only solution seems to be that they
lifted passively off the ground by the wind. But this situation,
notes Desmond, would leave these ungainly Brobdignagian pterosaurs
vulnerable to attack when grounded.
While Desmond mentions a number of ancillary problems here, any of
which would throw doubt on the pterosaur's ability to exist as
mentioned, he neglects the biggest question of all: the calculations
that say 50 pounds are the maximum weight have not been shown to be
in error; we have simply discovered larger creatures. Much larger.
This is what is called a dilemma.
Those who had estimated a large wingspan for the Big Bend bird
were immediately attacked by aeronautical engineers.
"Such dimensions broke all the rules
of flight engineering," wrote Colorado paleontologist Robert
T. Bakker, in The Dinosaur Heresies, "a creature that
large would have broken its arm bones if it tried to fly..."13
Subsequently, the proponents of a large
wingspan were forced to back off somewhat, since the complete wing
bones had not been discovered.
But Bakker believes these
pterosaurs really did have wingspans of over 60 feet and that they
simply flew despite our not comprehending how. The problem is ours,
he says, and he proposes no solution.
So much for the idea of anything re-evolving into the sizes of the
flying creatures of the antediluvian world. What about the
possibility of man breeding something like a Teratorn? Could man
actively breed even a 50-pound eagle?
Berkuts are the biggest of eagles.
And Atlanta, an eagle that Sam Barnes,
one of England's top falconers in the 1970s, brought back to Wales
from Kirghiz, Russia, is, at 26 pounds in flying trim, as large as
they ever get.14 These eagles have been bred specifically
for size and ferocity for many centuries. They are the most prized
of all possessions amongst nomads, and are the imperial hunting bird
of the Turko-Mongol peoples.
The only reason Barnes was allowed to
bring her back is that Atlanta had a disease for which no cure was
available in Kirghiz and was near to death. A Berkut of Atlanta's
size, Barnes was told, would normally be worth more than a dozen of
the most beautiful women in Kirghiz.
Elephants are simply too heavy
to run in our world. The best they can manage is a kind of a fast
walk. Mammoths were as big and bigger than the largest elephants,
however, and Pleistocene art clearly shows them galloping.
The killing powers of a big eagle are out of proportion to its size.
Berkuts are normally flown at wolves, deer, and other large prey.
Barnes witnessed Atlanta killing a deer in Kirghiz, and was told
that she had killed a black wolf a season earlier. Mongols and other
nomads raise sheep and goats, and obviously have no love for wolves.
A wolf might be little more than a day
at the office for Atlanta with her 11-inch talons, however, a wolf
is a big deal for an average-sized Berkut at 15-to-20 pounds.
Obviously, there would be an advantage to having the birds be
bigger, i.e. to having the average Berkut weigh 25 pounds, and for a
large one to weigh 40-to-50 pounds. It has never been done, however,
despite all the efforts and funds poured into the enterprise since
the days of Genghis Khan.
The breeding of Berkuts has continued
apace from that day to this, but the Berkuts have still not gotten
any bigger than 25 pounds or so.15
It is worth recalling here the difficulty which increasingly larger
birds experience in getting airborne from flat ground. Atlanta was
powerful enough in flight, but she was not easily able to take off
from flat ground. This could spell disaster in the wild. A bird of
prey will often land with prey, and if take-off from flat ground to
avoid trouble is not possible, the bird's life becomes imperiled.
A bird bigger than Atlanta with her
10-foot wingspan, like a Teratorn with a 27-foot wingspan and
weighing 170 pounds, would simply not Survive.
There are other categories of evidence, derived from a careful
analysis of antediluvian predators, to show that gravitational
conditions in the distant past were not the same as they are today.
It is well known, for example, that
elephant-sized animals cannot sustain falls, and that elephants
spend their entire lives avoiding them.
For an elephant, the slightest tumble
can break bones and/or destroy enough tissue to prove fatal.
Predators, however, live by tackling and tumbling with prey. One
might think that this consideration would preclude the existence of
any predator too large to sustain falls. Weight estimates for the
tyrannosaurs, however, include specimens heavier than any elephant.
That appears to be a contradiction.
Moreover, elephants are simply too heavy to run in our world. As is
well known, they manage a kind of a fast walk. They cannot jump, and
anything resembling a gully stops them cold. Mammoths were as big
and bigger than the largest elephants, however, and Pleistocene art
clearly shows them galloping.
Finally, there is
the Utahraptor. Recently found in
Utah, this creature is a 20-foot, 1,500-pound version of a
The creature apparently ran on the balls
of its two hind feet, on two toes in fact, the third toe carrying a
12-inch claw for disemboweling prey. This suggests a very active
lifestyle. Very few predators appear to be built for attacking prey
notably larger than themselves; the Utahraptor appears to be such a
In our world, of course, 1,500-pound toe dancers do not exist. The
only example we have of a 1,500-pound land predator is the Kodiak
bear, the lumbering gait and mannerisms of which are familiar to us
And so, over and over again, this same
kind of dilemma-things which cannot happen in our world having been
the norm in the antediluvian world.
The laws of physics do not change, nor does the gravitational
constant, as far as we know.
But something was obviously massively
different in the world in which these creatures existed, and that
difference probably involved a change in perceived gravity.
This solution derives from the continuing research of
neo-catastrophists, that is, followers of the late
Immanuel Velikovsky, and is
known as the "Saturn
The basic requirement for an attenuated perception of gravity
involves the Earth being in a very close orbit around a smaller and
much cooler stellar body (or binary body) than our present Sun. One
pole would always be pointed directly at this nearby small star or
binary system. The intense gravitational attraction would pull the
Earth into an egg shape rather than its present spherical shape, so
that the planet's center of gravity would be off center towards the
This would generate the torque necessary
to counteract the natural gyroscopic force and keep the Earth's pole
pointed in the same direction as it revolved around the star.
The consequences of this intense gravitational pull would be
dramatic. It would allow, first of all, for gigantic animals like
the dinosaurs (just as any change in gravity to the present
situation would likely cause their demise). It would also tend to
draw all of the Earth's land mass into a single supercontinent (Pangea).
Why else, after all, should the Earth's
continental masses have amassed in one place?
And finally, with the Earth's pole
pointed straight at this star or binary system, there would be no
seasons. All literature of the distant past points out that the
seasons did not appear until after the flood.
The state of the present solar system indicates that this previous
system was eventually captured by a larger star, our present Sun.
But the pieces of this old system have
not vanished. The influential small star or binary system of the
past remains, though its reign of power has ended. The star or stars
are Jupiter and Saturn, the next largest objects to the Sun
in our present system.
It is instructive that the ancients worshiped Jupiter and Saturn as
the two chieftain gods in all of the antique religious systems.
If the present solar system was present
in the distant past, one would expect primitive peoples to have
worshiped the most visible of the astral bodies:
There is no conceivable reason they
would worship as gods two planets which most people cannot even find
in the night sky - unless, of course, these bodies occupied a far
more prominent place in the heavens than they do today.
1. David Lambert and the Diagram
Group Staff, Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The First Complete Guide
to Every Dinosaur Now Known, New York, 1983, p. 118.
2. Christopher McGowan, Dinosaurs, Spitfires & Sea Dragons,
Cambridge, 1991, p. 118.
3. Knut Schmidt-Nielson, Scaling, Why is Animal Size So
Important?, Cambridge, 1984, page 163."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 a 3 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 muscle. The reason for this
uniformity is that the dimensions of the thick and thin muscle
filaments, and also the number of cross-bridges between them are
the same. In fact the structure of mouse muscle and elephant
muscle is so similar that a microscopist would have difficulty
identifying them except for a larger number of mitochondria in
the smaller animal. This uniformity in maximum force holds not
only for higher vertebrates, but for many other organisms,
including at least some, but not all invertebrates."
4. The normal inverse operator 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, i.e. it lets us tell if a
200-pound athlete has actually done a "better" lift than the
champion of the 180-pound group. For athletes roughly between
160 and 220 pounds, i.e., whose bodies are fairly similar, these
scaled lift numbers line up very nicely. It is then fairly
easily seen that a lift for a scaled up version of one
particular athlete can be computed via this formula, since the
similarity will be perfect, scaling being the only difference.
5. McGowan, op. cit,. p. 97.
6. Ibid., pp. 101 -120.
7. Harvey B. Lillywhite, "Sauropods and Gravity", Natural
History, December, 1991, p. 33."...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 of brain and
8. Peter Dodson, "Lifestyles of the Huge and Famous," Natural
History, December, 1991, p.32.
9. Adrian J. Desmond, The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs: A Revolution in
Paleontology, New York, 1976, p. 178.
10. Ibid, p. 178.
11. Ibid, p. 182.
12. Ibid, pp. 182-183.
13. Robert T. Bakker, The Dinosaur Heresies, New York, 1986, pp.
14. David Bruce, Bird of Jove, New York, 1971.
16. Tim Folger, "The Killing Machine," Discover, January, 1993,
17. David Talbott,
The Saturn Myth, New York,