[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Re: Response to Gould?
I agree that there are a lot of misconceptions out there that need
correcting. The old notion that Dinosauria (non-avian) are huge lumbering
slow-moving dimwits needs to be dispelled. Lots of progress has been made
on that, and the younger generations will not have such notions to any
appreciable extent (thank goodness).
However, the cladists' expansion of both Dinosauria and dinosaurs to
include birds was a big mistake even in the eyes of many professional
systematists. On that you can expect continued opposition from both
professionals and the public. This is a completely different thing from the
other examples your were discussing.
P.S. In fact, saying "birds are living dinosaurs", not only irritates a lot
of people, but it probably actually tends to help perpetuate the erroneous
notion that non-avian dinosaurs were slow-moving dimwits and that is the
reason they went extinct. Throwing birds and non-avian dinosaurs into one
big "Dinosauria" makes it harder to overcome such misconceptions. Something
else to think about!
From: chris brochu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Response to Gould?
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2000 18:27:32 -0500
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
> just scientific jargan, it's a common name for a group of exinct
> 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
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
Get more from the Web. FREE MSN Explorer download : http://explorer.msn.com