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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Sauropods, Elephants, Weightlifters


by Wayne Throop
Copyright © 1995-2003
[Text Last Updated: June 27, 1995]
[Links Updated: March 27, 2003]

The mechanism Ted proposes to solve "the sauropod problem", as presented on his megafauna page.
It is a fairly easy demonstration that nothing any larger than the largest elephants could live in our world today, and that the largest dinosaurs survived ONLY because the nature of the world and of the solar system was then such that they did not experience gravity as we do at all; they'd be crushed by their own weight, collapse in a heap, and suffocate within minutes were they to.
coupled with his saturn myth page.
Picture a planet such as ours circling a small star such as Jupiter or Saturn, or possibly a small double star composed of two such, the pole of the planet pointed straight at the small star. This means daylight on one side, darkness on the other. Always... you just don't live on the dark side. This means, no seasons. You just pick what kind of weather you like, and you live at that latitude. Assuming a close enough orbit, and I WOULD assume a much closer orbit around such a smaller body than our present sun, this means that creatures living on the surface of the planet would also feel, and very strongly, the gravity of the small, faint star as well as the gravity of the planet.

This, on a planet our size, would enable creatures to grow to sizes to which, as I have repeatedly demonstrated and as reality and observation dictate, they cannot now grow and DO not now grow.

But there are problems with the proposition that another body's gravity (or any other inverse-square force, such as electromagnetism, for that matter) was responsible for the possibility of sauropods and other giants. Basically, Ted saves the sauropods at the expense of the rest of the planet, and ends up not saving the sauropods in the first place.

Roche Limit

The square-cube problem applies to planets as well as to sauropods, and in using "the gravity of the small, faint star" to oppose and thus reduce earth's gravity, Ted's proposed solution fails for essentially the same reason that he says the problem exists in the first place.

An earth-size planet's problems with the square-cube law are such that it acts very nearly as a droplet of liquid. It is why the earth is a sphere to one part in thousands: the surface of the earth can deviate from the "surface of least energy" by very little indeed. Which means that when subjected to tides such as those Ted describes, the earth will deform.

The Roche limit is named for a physicist who worked out how much tide a planet can stand before it is destroyed. Using a workable approximation for computing this limit (that is, for bodies of equal density, the Roche Limit is 2.44 times the radius of the larger), we find that tides of approximately 0.14g on earth would completely destroy it.

Yet Ted's theory requires 0.7g tides or more. This is many times more than enough to destroy the earth.


Treat between 1e3 and 1e6 times earth mass, (that is, in the range of a primary between gas giant and solar mass) we get
1e3/23.4^2-1e3/24.4^2  ~= 0.145
1e6/243^2-1e6/244^2    ~= 0.139


Conditions at the Sub-Saturn Point

Ted advocates the notions of Lynn Rose that tidal forces distorted the earth, and that this is the reason why Pangaea isn't quite a perfect circle, but rather has the Tethys sea projecting into it.
Rose notes that Pangaea would have been sitting on top of the high (narrow) end of this former egg-shaped world, and that the world subsequently became spherical as it is now when the antique system broke up.
Thus, the "magic mountain" motifs in mythology (according to Rose and Ted) are due to this giant mountain pulled up under the sub-saturn point.

But there are problems with this scenario.

The conditions that would occur due to Rose and Ted's excellent mechanism directly contradict the mythological motifs it is supposed to explain.

Locations of Sauropod Fossils and Trackways

Tidal forces fall off rapidly with distance from the nearside of a body. In fact, even if gravity were reduced to zero at the sub-saturn point (which is already impossible due to the roche limit, but go with it for a moment), it would not be adequate for Ted's theory about 20 or 30 degrees away.

[Map] Andrew MacRae has provided a map (seen here) which shows where sauropods are found, relative to the positions of the continental plates in Pangaea. Andrew discussed this in a t.o. FAQ. Suffice to say, the dinosaur finds are well outside the region where an effect from Saturn could have helped them.

Ted's has proposed that perhaps floods washed the remains to where they were found today, and that they really lived at the sub-saturn point. But this position is untenable, because trackways are found that correspond to the fossil locations, and trackways could not plausibly have been moved by a flood or other catastrophe intact.


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