The latest internet awareness is a cow. Or more accurately a giant steer (a castrated male) by the name of Knickers.

The nearly two meter-tall, 1,400kg Holstein Friesian has grown so much that he stands out like a sore thumb among his herd and has become a viral online celebrity. So why has this happened to Knickers – incidentally saving his life as his owners have absitively to keep the abnormal case back from the slaughter?

There are several affidavit why animals can grow to much larger sizes than we accede normal. If it’s just a single specimen, the most likely cause of its gigantism is acromegaly, a action in which the body produces an excess of growth hormone because of an aberancy in the pituitary gland.


This is often seen in people such as the world’s tallest man ever, Robert Wadlow who grew to 2.72 meters (8 feet 11.1 inches). Actor Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in the James Bond films, was addition famous acromegaly sufferer. It’s likely that this is what has caused Knickers to grow so big.

In humans, basic acromegaly is associated with heart problems, raised blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and diseases of the joints such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The heart can become continued because of the strain of blame blood round the colossal body and joints suffer because of the added weight of the long bones and larger organs. But ad-lib acromegaly is too rare in animals to know how it will affect Knickers, if indeed, acromegaly is what he has.

As well as abnormal individuals, entire breed of animals can also grow to become giants. These are scientifically known as megafaunae (which is just a posh way of saying “big animals”).

One way this happens is through isolation. Animals that live on islands after predators (and so don’t gain a hiding advantage from being small) can evolve to grow much bigger than agnate breed on mainlands.


The Komodo dragon is often given as an archetype of this island gigantism, although some scientists think that it just belongs to an age-old group of large lizards.

The island of Flores in Indonesia where these huge adviser lizards live is also home to a very large rodent, and historically had a giant tortoise as well as, at the other end of the scale, a dwarf albatross and a very small breed of human .

The archetypal archetype of megafaunae are some of the dinosaurs. We still don’t fully accept the apparatus that caused dinosaurs such as brontosaurs () to grow so enormous.

Recent work suggests that their slow use of energy, which reduced the need to get rid of excess heat, and a tiny head because they didn’t chew their food (so no need for heavy teeth), are among the appearance that accustomed them to survive at this size.

Human creations

Scientists sometimes try to find out what aspects of cellular analysis affect growth rates. One study has found that mice that have been genetically adapted so that they don’t aftermath one of the actinic messengers of the cell, known as suppressor of cytokine signaling-2 (SOCS-2), grow abnormally long bones and large organs. It seems absurd that this kind of alteration would arise spontaneously in a steer.

Humans can also have a hand in creating huge animals by ancestry them. Draft horses such as Shires, Clydesdales, and Percherons needed to be big to pull heavy loads, and so the better animals were paired for mating until the breed became as large as we know them today. A recent archetype was Moose the percheron adolescent who stood 19 hands high (about as tall as Knickers).

Giant rabbits, Maine coon cats and Irish Wolfhounds are also decidedly large breeds. But Knickers is one on his own. We have all seen King Kong and Godzilla, so we can only be beholden that Knickers is so tame and friendly.

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