Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 6 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Where Have All the Giants Gone?

Why don't we see that many giant land animals? Even the largest sauropods were smaller than many modern day whales.

The survival of both the hunter and the hunted often comes down to speed. Yet how fast an animal can run is intricately linked to its size, such that the fastest animals are not the biggest nor the smallest. The ability to maintain high speeds is dependent on the body’s capacity to withstand the high stresses involved with locomotion. Yet even when standing still, scaling principles would suggest that the mechanical stress an animal feels will increase in greater demand than its body can support. So if big animals want to be fast, they must find solutions to overcome these high stresses. This article explores the ways in which extant animals mitigate size-related increases in musculoskeletal stress in an effort to help understand where all the giants have gone.

You can read more about this here

This article is from the free online

Life on Land: Ecology, Evolution, Challenges, and Solutions

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now