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Re: gallop

Paul Sparks wrote (9/30/97; 11:19a):

>Norm King suggested that giraffes might not gallop due to their short 
>body length. On Nat'l Geo last night a giraffe galloped right along 
>with the best of them: front feet together, gather spine, back feet 
>together over lap front feet as the spine expands.

I'm glad Paul responded to my posting.  It seems like some of mine are 
real conversation stoppers, and I sometimes wonder if anybody else 
receives them.

As to Paul's posting--No, I only said that giraffes often amble.  I 
believe they are one of the few mammals that do it under natural 
conditions (i.e., no training, as with horses).  Giraffes can gallop just 
fine, as Paul pointed out.

Again, relative to dinosaurs gaits, I think they did not amble.  I also 
think they did not gallop, for reasons Paul alluded to.  Namely, the 
anatomy of mammal spines differs from that of quadrupedal dinosaurs in 
several respects, at least one of which may be significant here.  Mammal 
vertebrae in the thoracic region are different from those in the lumbar 
region in ways that reflect the up-and-down springing action involved 
with the gallop.  Dinosaur vertebrae are not differentiated in the same 
way, and I don't think any quadrupedal dinosaur even had what might be 
called a lumbar region.  I suspect the very different pelvic anatomy also 
contributes to differences in gaits.  So, even if dinosaurs had a 
"gallop-like" gait, it nevertheless could not have been the same as the 
gallop of mammals, and therefore probably should be called something 

I hope nobody suggests a name for such a speculative dinosaurian gait at 
this time, however, since we do not know if it existed.

Here's some food for thought:  Would a quadrupedal bird gallop?

Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu