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

I wrote:
>  I find it much more confusing that Ornithopods and
>> Ornithischians {"bird-hipped dinosaurs"} do not share direct or 
>> ancestry to birds, when their names imply they do!>

On Fri, 15 Aug 1997 08:52:42 -0500 franczak@ntplx.net (Brian Franczak)
>The term "ornithischian" does not imply a relationship to birds; it is
>simply a descriptive term (because of the configuration of 

Yes, I understand that.  I merely was pointing out that a ornithologist
sees the prefix Ornitho- and impulsively thinks "bird."

>> I feel Bakker's use of "Raptor Red" as a book title is legitimate.  
>> 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 
>> 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.
>Dr. Bakker's use of the term "raptor" in his book title was 
>legitimate, for
>the reasons you state. The problem is that he didn't stop there 
>you missed the PALEOWORLD episode where Bakker called every theropod 
>the Thanksgiving turkey a "raptor"). And despite the words "A NOVEL" 
>on the
>cover of RAPTOR RED, the book reads more as dogma than a work of 
>His "I-know-all-about-this-stuff-and-this-is-the-way-it-was" style of
>writing sounded more like pontification to me than a story. Well, 
>okay, too, except that his position as a prominent dinosaur 
>gives him a voice that -- even when writing a purported work of 
>fiction --
>lends a air of credibility that those who idolize him simply don't

Yes, I did miss Paleoworld, so perhaps he went overboard as you say. 
It's not the first time.   He's always had the 
"I-know-all-about-this-stuff-and-this-is-the-way-it-was" style in most of
his writing anyway.  Is it not just the fact that he tends to couch his
opinions as facts that bothers people, but also the fact that he gets so
much attention doing it?

>> I just don't see it as a big deal to have an "insider's" term and 
>> have to explain it.  Heck, there are already billions of those terms 
>> science,
>Not to be snide, but could I hear some examples?

Well, off the top of my head, all those words in physics that they use
naming the subatomic particles and their qualities, like "charm" and
"gluon" and others I can't recall very well, because I don't follow
particle physics at all.  In falconry, things like "jessed" (a bird of
prey that is flown or held with leather "leashes" on its legs), 
"hacking" a bird of prey (involving release of captive bred juvenile
birds of prey to the wild) , "baiting" (when a bird of prey tries to fly
away from its trainer before it should), etc.

>> why not add one more?
>Because the term raptor already *has* a definition in science. Using 
>same word as a common name for two different types of animals is 

It isn't just the fiction that is mucking things up.  It's
paleontologists themselves that named unrelated beasts Oviraptor,
Utahraptor, and Velociraptor.  That certainly set the stage for things. 
Why don't people get confused with all the _saurus_es?  Because they are
exposed to them all for a long time.  The dinosaurs with "raptor" in
their names have been more obscure, until recently.  Maybe more exposure
to them and the word dromaeoasur will fix things.

>Why muck things up? Why cave in to trendiness? The word "raptor" (as a
>slang term for dromaeosaurs) did not stem from science, it originated 
>in a
>piece of fiction. Let it stay there.

Sorry, I can't.  Since I have to correct the errors from that piece of
fiction every day, I have to at least refer to it.  It isn't "caving in
to trendiness" to use a term that has become popular due to a fictional
piece if  1) you are trying to correct misinformation, and 2) the word
gives people a quick mental picture.  Didn't Steven J. Gould argue this
point about the name Brontosaurus just a few years ago?

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