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Re: Response to Gould?

Eric Lurio wrote...
> Indeed, there are thousands of books for children not all of them good,
> they are there, that portray dinosaurs as huge and extinct. Dinosaur isn't
> just scientific jargan, it's a common name for a group of exinct beasties
> that are well known to everyone. Centuries of usage have consolidated the
> meaning of the common term.

There are lots of kid's books that call spiders, centipedes, and any and
all terrestrial arthropods "bugs."  A professional entomologist would
disagree - "bug" implies a member of a specific clade of insects.  True, to
be really precise, a taxonomist would use the proper clade name and not
"bug;" but the meaning of the word "bug" does mean different things in
entomology texts and popular books.  Would you argue that the entomology
texts have to change, because popular meanings are different?

I've also seen popular books that use "ape" and "monkey" interchangeably
and call blue-green algae "plants."    Heck, the book of Deuteronomy
includes bats in the litany of forbidden-to-eat birds.

Bottom line:  popular meanings are a very poor guide to how scientific
terms should be used.  Dinosauria has a proper scientific meaning; I am
fully aware that popular books do not use it consistently, but I would
rather roll up my sleeves and work to get popular books to use terminology


Christopher A. Brochu
Department of Geology
Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

phone 312-665-7633
fax 312-665-7641
electronic cbrochu@fmppr.fmnh.org