Throughout human history, man have found all manner of ways to measure just about anything. Having a standardized means of quantifying the world around us can certainly be helpful.
Read on to find some more absolutely bizarre yet completely real units of measurement.
The length of a horse is a well-known measurement used in the world of horse racing. It is sometimes known as a horse length, or abbreviated as simply “length,” but the original measurement comes from the physical length of a typical horse. This is usually around 2.4 meters (8 ft).
In traditional horse racing, this measurement would be used to describe the distance between horses that are racing. An example of this would be when the famous racehorse Sea biscuit won against major rival War Admiral by four lengths in 1938.
In British horse racing, it gets a little more complicated than this. The distance between two horses is measured by calculating them into lengths per second, depending on the type of surface. The maximum number of lengths that can typically be described is 99, with anything above this being described as “99+.” Other parts of the horse can be used to describe very close finishes to races, including “neck,” “head,” or even “nose,” with a nose (also called a “short head”) being the smallest possible distance a horse can be measured to win by!
Finland has one of the strangest (and yet entirely logical) obsolete units of measurement, namely the poronkusema. The poronkusema is a unit of distance measured at approximately 7.5 kilometers (4.7 mi), based on how far reindeer can migrate before needing to stop and urinate.
(Some sources put the distance at more like 9.6 kilometers [6 mi].) The actual translation of porunkusema is “the distance a reindeer can comfortably travel before taking a break.”
The landscape of Finland is very dense with forests (78 percent is covered by woodland), so traversing it is difficult. Therefore, explorers developed their own unit to describe distances. It is said that reindeer cannot walk and urinate at the same time, so they need to stop periodically. Reindeer herding is generally conducted by the indigenous Sami people of Finland, a large population of local people who live in the northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.