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Use of the term "raptor" for theropod dinosaurs
I have observed with growing alarm the improper useage of the term "raptor"
when collectively describing a variety of small carnivorous dinosaurs. This
term is in widespread use in the popular press, movies, books, and now,
after attending Dinofest'96 I see it is being used as a descriptive term in
scientific presentations and ultimately I guess it will appear in their
scientific publications too. Am I the only one who objects to the use of the
term "raptor" for small theropod dinosaurs?
Despite their osteological similarities to, and taxonomic relationships
with modern birds, small theropods are not in any sense of the word
"raptors". Real raptors are modern birds of prey such as hawks and eagles-
something small theropods are not. So why has this "raptor" term come into
common and apparently accepted usage?
Normally I would avoid such issues, but my 5 year old son has already been
brainwashed by the media and soon after my return from Dinofest he was
telling me about a raptor he saw on T.V. I carried the conversation
thinking he was talking about a hawk or eagle, but no it was a small theropod.
Anyone else out there feel the same way I do?
Glowering and disgruntled in Drumheller...
Darren Tanke, Technician I, Dinosaur Research Program, Royal Tyrrell Museum
of Palaeontology, Drumheller, AB, Canada. Paleo Interests: fossil
identification, collection and preparation, centrosaurine ceratopsians,
Upper Cretaceous vertebrate faunas of North America and East Asia,
paleopathology; senior editor on annotated bibliography of extinct/extant
vertebrate dental pathology, osteopathy and related topics (9,657 entries as
of April 14, 1996).
Osteopathy Bibliography Homepage at: http://dns.magtech.ab.ca/dtanke