Between pegs and over curves
September 30, 2010 6:32 PM   Subscribe

How do you measure a dead tiger?

In the book Man-Eaters of Kumaon p.121:
Wyndham said that in his opinion the tiger was ten feet between pegs, and while one shikari said he was 10' 5" over curves, the other said he was 10' 6" or a little more.
and at Wikipedia:
Finally, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest tiger known was a huge male hunted in 1967, that measured 322 cm in total length between pegs, 338 cm over curves and weighed 388.7 kg (857 lb).
they use the terms 'between pegs' and 'over curves'. Can anyone point me to a source that explains exactly what this means?
posted by unliteral to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would guess that "between pegs" means measuring across a straight line between two set points in space (in this case, probably the nose and rear), while "over curves" would go from nose to rear but follow the curves of the tiger's body, thus accounting for bulk.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2010

I assume what they mean by between pegs is that they measured along a straight distance from nose to rump (or tail) with no regard to the actual curvature of how the animal was laying on the ground. Over curves would be to measure along those curves, such as shoulder, back, etc, to get a different measurement length.
posted by strixus at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2010

Length of Body: Put a peg in the ground, tight against the manubrium or front part of the breast bone, L; another against the ischium, or bone that is felt on each side below the tail, M. The distance between is the length of the body.

From How to Measure an Animal, Ernest Seton Thompson, 1898
posted by HopperFan at 7:43 PM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Thanks for the quoting HopperFan, I can't see that book from Australia.
posted by unliteral at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2010

I apologize, I didn't realize Google Books was limited like that. Here's the whole measuring section, it has some interesting stuff.


Although a complete series of observations, on the Big Game of our country, is urgently needed and continually demanded by the taxidermist, the painter, the sculptor, and the scientist, as well as the sportsman, it is a remarkable fact that no such thing exists. Even such common species as the Virginian, or White-tailed Deer have escaped full and careful observation.

The readers of Recreation have unusual opportunities to gather the necessary information, and for their guidance the following scheme of measurements is presented.

At the outset, it cannot be too emphatically laid down that guesses, estimates, etc. are not wanted, and that extraordinary measurements can scarcely be accepted without extraordinary proof. A series oi measurements is all the better if attested by 2 or more witnesses.

All measurements should be in a straight line, excepting where otherwise stated. Calipers are best, but a 2-foot rule and a tape are more likely to be handy and can be made to answer. Here is a general formula for measuring mammals:

Name of animal




Where killed


Who measured it


Live weight (on reliable scales, or not at all)

Dressed or gutted weight (ditto)

1. Length.—Lay the animal flat, stick in a straight, sharp peg, at right angles to the ground, at the point of the nose, A. Then pull the nose, the back and the tail out, as nearly as possible in a straight line, and put another peg where the bone of the tail ends, B. Measure in a straight line between these points. This is the length of the animal. AB, Fig. i.

2. Tail.—Turn the tail straight, at right angles to the back, alone a rule or stick held firmly down on the upper side, and mark where the bone ends. Note that as " length of tail," CD.

3. Hind Foot.—Measured in a straight line from the top of the hock, or heel, E, to the point of the longest hoof (or claw), F This is the length of the hind foot.

4. Length of the Head.—This is best measured with calipers, but it can be done with the pegs. Peg A is still in place. Put another, G, at the back point of the skull, that is just on a line with the back of the ears. This point is called the hind-head point or occipital tuberosity. See also Fig. 4, A2 G2.

5. Height at Shoulders.—Put in a peg, H, tight against the withers. Put the foreleg at right angles to the axis of the body and push it up toward the spine, so as to get it as nearly as possible in the ordinary position of standing, in life. Put a peg, I, at the heel—i.e. the ground line. The distance between the pegs is the height.

6. Length from Shoulder Head to Thigh Head.—Measure as nearly as possible from the middle of the head of the shoulder bone, J, to the middle of the head of the thigh bone, K, where it joins to the hip bone. Make sure, by working it, that you get the thigh bone.

7. Length of Body.—Put a peg in the ground, tight against the manubrium or front point of the breast bone, L; another against the ischium, or bone that is felt on each side below the tail, M. The distance between is length of body.

8. From the breast between the forelegs to the ground stake, I.

These are the important measurements, but the following are also desirable:

From elbow N, to ground stake, I.... From wither stake H, to breast stake.O From hock E, to ground stake at hind foot, P

Girth of chest, behind forelegs (snug),

13. Fig. I

Girth of belly, at biggest place (snug),

14. Fig. 1

From point of snout to nearest edge of eyeball, AQ, Fig. 1

From point of snout to front edge of base of ear, AR, Fig. I

Greatest length of eyeball

Length of ear, ST Fig. 2 and ST Fig. 7

Greatest width of ear, Fig. 7, WD, ER.

Width across ears, from tip to tip, TU Fig. 2

Greatest width of the head, XY Fig. 2

In bears, wolves, etc., this will be below and behind the eye, Fig. 4, ZZ2.

Width between the outside of each eyeball, VW Fig. 2

Girth of front leg, above knee, at thickest part, 10 Fig. 1

Girth of shank, below knee, at thinnest part, 11 Fig. 1

Girth of hind shank, below hock, at thinnest part, 12 Fig. 1

Depth at loins, from stake DL 1 to stake DL 2, Fig. 1

Thickness from one shoulder head, J, through to the other on the opposite side

Thickness from one thigh-bone head K, through to the other on the opposite side

Width of fore foot or hoof, YY Figs. 3 and 5

Width of hind foot or hoof, YY Fig. 6.

Length of fore foot or hoof, XX Figs 3 and 5, measured from where the hair ends behind to the point of the longest claw or hoof

Length of hind foot or hoof. XX Fig. 6 (see above)

Length of longest claw, measured from the base above, following the curve to the tip

Length of horns, from base to tip, following curve

Spread of horns, that is, the widest place horizontal and at right angles to the line of the neck

Girth above burr or base

Number of points on each

The horn measurements are usually the only ones taken, and are of the least importance, because the horns are usually there to speak for themselves, to taxidermist or artist.

For small mammals, such as moles, mice, squirrels, prairie dogs, rabbits, etc., it is enough to take the first 3 measurements.

In all cases, hunters who wish to do service to science, should preserve the skull of the animal, with the skin. In some cases it is of more value than the latter.
posted by HopperFan at 8:50 PM on September 30, 2010 [8 favorites]

My understanding (gleaned from a Reader's Digest condensed novel about tiger hunters that I devoured when I was twelve) was that the animal's unexaggerated length would be a straight line drawn between a peg placed in the ground just at its nose and another peg just at the end of its tail. That's the shortest distance between the two points/pegs. But you get a little more "length" if you unspool the tape measure down the animal's spine- the spine rises at the shoulders and hips and dips in between, so measuring those curves makes the tiger sound bigger.

You can visualize it in this photo- imagine a straight line going right across the animal's body from nose to tail, and then how much longer the line would be if you started at the nose and drew the line over the top of the tiger, between its ears and down its spine, hugging its body's curves.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:30 AM on October 1, 2010

« Older I can't use any operating systems because of Grub....   |   I think too fast, therefore what am I? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.