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Some advice (was Re: Family Ties)

At 03:50 PM 5/20/97 -0400, Jeremy (not Jack) Frost wrote:
>Second, some of  you might be on this list to see who can type the longest,
most unpronouncable and obscure word in the history of mankind.  I'm on this
list because I like dinosaurs and want to learn more about them, but it's
impossible to learn anything on a list where everybody else seems to be
speaking a totally different language.

Not a totally different language, just the language that paleontologists use
to talk about dinosaurs.

If you have come to a list to learn about dinosaurs, you are going to have
to learn about other aspects of dinosaur paleontology.  These terms will
include: anatomical terms (like "postcrania" or "promaxillary fenestra" or
"caudal"); stratigraphic terms (like "Morrison Formation" or "Late Jurassic"
or "Kimmeridgian"); classification terms (like "taxon" or "homologous" or
"Maniraptoriformes" or "Therizinosauroidea"); and a whole host of other
words.  We cannot talk intelligently about the field of dinosaur
paleontology without using some words which you do not yet know, with (I
hope) an emphasis on the word "yet".

If you came to the list because you think you know everything there is to
know about dinosaurs, I suggest you leave now (or, perhaps, just sit back
and read for a bit).  You say you like dinosaurs: good.  However, I assume
that EVERYONE on this list likes dinosaurs (that being the point of having a
dinosaur list...).  Some of us like dinosaurs so much that we have dedicated
our lives and futures to illustrating dinosaurs, writing about dinosaurs,
computer animating dinosaurs, or even (heavens forfend!!) discovering dinosaurs.

If you are sincere in your interest in dinosaurs, there is a lot of
background material you are going to have to understand.  It takes time to
learn it (and all of us are still learning as time goes by).  Don't be
afraid to say that you don't know what a term means: either write directly
to the person who posted the message, or even to the list in general, and
ask (politely!) for a definition.  Just about everyone on the net has done
that from time to time.  As time goes by, you will pick up new information.

>If you want to flame me because I don't know what any of you are talking
about, go ahead.  The point of my post about how impressed I was that
whoever wrote it can put the word "postcrania" in a sentence is that some of
us don't know everything.

Why on Earth would you think that that person who typed "postcrania" thinks
they "know everything"?  All sciences (heck, all hobbies, too) have their
own special terms for describing certain aspects of their field.  Would
baseball make any sense if everytime the announcer calls the play, he or she
said "And the guy who has the ball is, well, swinging his arm to throw the
ball.  And he's thrown it.  And the guy who has that, er..., stick-thing is
swinging it at the ball.  And he hit it.  Now he's running for that flat,
white thing on the ground..."?  If this was a baseball list, one would
expect most people reading the list would know (or be expected to learn) the
terms "pitcher", "pitch", "batter", "bat", "plate", etc.  And perhaps even
National League, BPA, foul ball, etc.

>If you could provide a translation next time one of you switches to an
extraterrestrial language in the middle of an otherwise perfectly good
message, then we humans would really appreciate it.

If you have a specific question about a term, please ask the poster.
Additionally, you can consult any of a number of webpages
(www.dinosauria.com, for example) which have glossaries of terms.  If you
are really serious about understanding dinosaurs, go to a local library
and/or book store and pick up some dinosaur books (especially ones that
AREN'T just listings of dinosaurs A to Z).

I hope that, if you are indeed interested in dinosaurs, that you hang around
and read the messages on this list.  You can learn a lot here.

Take care, and hope this helps.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661