What do James Joule, Daniel Fahrenheit, Charles Richter, Heinrich Hertz, Isaac Newton, Georg Ohm, James Watt, Allessandro Volta and Shaquille O’Neal have in common? They all have units of measure named after them.
When the largest Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) ever found in the
Everglades was discovered,
the Washington Post described the 17 1/2 foot exotic beast as “more than twice
as long as former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal is tall.” Technically Shaq
stands 7” 1’ – so really the snake would be 2.5 “Shaqs” long. Naturally I
pictured an engorged constrictor with two and half of the fifteen time, NBA
All-Star in its belly. Eating a 325 pound Shaq might be a stretch, although
another Python was captured recently that had consumed a 76 pound White-tailed Deer.
The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) stands an impressive .60 Shaqs (5 feet) tall but more incredibly has a 1.25 Shaq (9 foot) wingspan. That’s the second largest wingspan of any bird in
North America. Only the 1.4 Shaq (10 foot) California Condor has a greater wingspan.
|© Pete Corradino|
Most of the White Pelicans are heading out of
Florida. They’ve spent
the last few months feeding along the coast in a manner entirely different than
their Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) cousins who dive for their food. White Pelicans work in groups on the
surface of the water and round up fish in the shallows. When the fish are
trapped, they dunk their bills into the water and scoop up their prey.
As we progress through spring, developing thermal updrafts allow for the pelicans to migrate en masse to their breeding grounds in the mid-western
and central portions of Canada.
Their massive wingspan allows them to rise quickly in the thermal column and
soar for long distances at high altitudes. Flocks of hundreds can be spotted
travelling together at this time of the year
Who’s to say if this unit of measure will stick? Consider the measure of a man is not by his free throw percentage but how he stacks up next to enormous snakes and gigantic birds.