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Re: What's in a Name (Was: RAPTOR WRONG)

On Wed, 13 Aug 1997, Brian Franczak wrote:
> The choice of the suffix -_raptor_ for unrelated types of dinosaurs is not
> inherently confusing (any more that the choice of the suffix -_saurus_ for
> unrelated dinosaurs is), it's the mistaken notion that the suffix somehow
> implies a *relationship* between unrelated forms.

Personally, I'm not that fond of the word "raptor" either. I had to stop
and think whether I used the term when we added "Velociraptor" to the list
of dinosaurs introduced in my school's dinosaur unit. Fortunately, I don't
think anyone used it. Kind of glad they didn't pick up on "trike" for
"Triceratops," too.

But if I can play devil's advocate just a little longer...

Since the root word "-raptor-" is also used in the clade Maniraptora,
does that not establish a relationship between otherwise unrelated forms?
Granted, "sickle-claws" are characteristic of Dromaeosauridae but not
Tyrannosauridae. Granted, too, that when most people hear or use the term
"raptor" the first thing that comes to mind is a sickle claw. But
cladistically speaking, Maniraptora encompasses a wide range of diverse
theropods with and without sickle claws, doesn't it?

> But *several* big-name dinosaur paleontologists use the term
> "raptor" when refering to dromaeosaurs. *This* is the real cause of
> confusion, since by using the inappropriate term, these respected
> authorities are confering legitimacy to it.

> ... when paleontologists continue to call dromaeosaurs "raptors",
> then no one will ever learn that it is inappropriate.

The March/April issue of _The Prehistoric Times_ featured 'raptors, and
Mike Friedrichs immediately acknowledged that it is an inaccurate term.
Then in the interview with Phil Currie, Dr. Currie speaks of a dinosaur
from Japan that has a sickle claw, and he uses the "r" word. (However, the
"r" word was used first by the interviewer, so maybe it was a slip?)

Dr. Currie goes on to say that perhaps Archaeopteryx had a sickle claw,
too. I hadn't heard about that. Can anyone expand on that information?
What effect, if any, would that have on Aves as a clade?

To get back to Velociraptor-- To Spielberg's credit, I don't think the "r"
word was never spoken in "The Lost World." I may have to view the movie or
wait for the video again to make sure, but I don't think it ever comes up.
To Spielberg's credit, too, he did not make use of the camouflaging
Carnotaurus from Crichton's novel. I really felt the only reason Crichton
thought up that Carnotaurus was so that Spielberg could make a film that
combined the horror element of "Predator" with "Jurassic Park." Maybe
Spielberg or his advisers read this list. Quite a while back, Tracy Ford
posted a message to the list lamenting the use of the "r" word very
similar to what Brian posted. And whatever Spielberg might originally have
intended as the Tyrannosaurus, he evidently eventually took Mike Trcic's
recommendation to heart. (Thanks for being so persuasive, Mike. And thanks
to Steven for being open-minded about what the Tyrannosaurus would look

With a little bit of luck, the "r" word will fall into disuse as time
engenders forgetfulness...

... unless they make a movie of Bakker's book. Then it could start all
over again. Nah. No studio would make a dinosaur movie without people in
it, would they?

----- Amado Narvaez