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

Maybe my take on this is wrong, but here goes...

The first impression I had with the use of the term "raptor" was in
Jurassic Park [movie] when the head "keeper", if you will, was talking to
Alan Grant about them.  For anyone that has worked in a zoo setting, this
bastardizing of a semi-scientific name into a slang term {i.e.,
"velociraptor" into "raptor"} is quite common among hunters and zoo
keepers.  That is all I thought of it -- a "zoo keeper" developing
"in-house" jargon for a new captive animal and using it freely with other
professionals to let them in on important information that he has
learned.  Yes, it is also a dramatic development in the movie, as others
point out.  The drama is in the use of an insider's term, with other
outsiders not understanding it, and the delaying of important actions
because of that lack of understanding.

Since my background is from biology, and especially birding, I picture a
"raptor" as a bird of prey immediately, and secondarily as a possible
dromaeosaur.  From the discussion so far, it seems I'm in a minority in
this response!  "Raptor" is just as much a suffix as "saurus" and I
always listened for the rest of the word around it before I drew my
mental picture.  I find it much more confusing that Ornithopods and
Ornithischians {"bird-hipped dinosaurs"} do not share direct or lateral
ancestry to birds, when their names imply they do!

I only use the term "raptor" in reference to dinosaurs when I refer "to
the dinosaurs called raptors in the Jurassic Park books and movies." 
Then I give the real names and correct sizes and how artistic license
distorted them.  People seem to accept this rather readily. 

I feel Bakker's use of "Raptor Red" as a book title is legitimate.  The
dinosaur has "raptor" in its name, the alliteration of the title is
appealing, and to me it's the same "insider's" term, and put forth in
that spirit, as a zoo keeper's.  Would people have felt better if Dr. Bob
had put an apostrophe in front of the word "raptor," to make it an
obvious contraction?  Maybe that's the best compromise. 

I just don't see it as a big deal to have an "insider's" term and then
have to explain it.  Heck, there are already billions of those terms in
science, why not add one more?

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.