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re: What's in a name?
Back when I was a child, many of us who are made of "whales, snails and
puppy dog tails" had a pet lizard that we called a "chameleon." (Okay,
some of us who are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice" had 'em
for pets, too.) Some of us learned eventually that they were not
chameleons, but "anoles." However, many of our friends who did not get
into a deeper study of animals probably still call them chameleons.
I don't think herpetologists get upset when the lay public calls an
"anole" a "chameleon." They might, however, feel differently if a
professional perpetuates that misconception. I think this is the point
that Brian Franczak is trying to make in his comments on the use of
"raptor." A similar situation exists with the public's perception of
koalas as bears, especially since they are the inspiration for teddy
bears. How would you feel if a zookeeper used the term "koala bear"?
As Judy Molnar pointed out, in JP the word "raptor" was used by the
hunter. As far as I can recall, neither of the paleontologists used the
abbreviated term. At the dig, it was always "Velociraptor," and even in
the scene with the egg hatching, the geneticist uses the proper term.
I asked once how professional paleontologists feel when someone
mispronounces a dinosaur's name. The general feeling was, "It doesn't
bother us when a lay person mispronounces a dinosaur's name, only when a
pro does." (But as we know, the pros themselves don't always agree,
either.) So maybe we can agree to be lenient when the public uses
Getting away from the "raptor" controversy... Brian has done many
excellent paintings of Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus.
These paintings appear frequently in videos and books for the lay public.
I'll ask Brian specifically and everyone else in general... How do you
feel when a lay person, especially a child, misidentifies a dinosaur in a
painting, video or exhibit? With the tyrannosaurs, if the animal is alone
in the scene, it's often difficult for me to tell the difference. But if I
see a tyrannosaur in the same scene with Euoplocephalus, I figure it can't
be T. rex. Do you use the moment to teach the child that not all
tyrannosaurs were Tyrannosaurus rex, or do you bite your tongue because a
treatise of that nature would kill the child's enthusiasm?
----- Amado Narvaez