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CRANIAL-CAUDAL vs ANTERO-POSTERIOR



Jon: Rostral, cranial and caudal remove ambiguity and certainly are the 
norm nowadays if you read monographs on diverse critters. Why are 
they cumbersome - the words are shorter than anterior and posterior! 
(and a cranial caudal vertebra would have to be called an anterior 
caudal vertebra in the 'old' system anyway). 

It's easy to tell which end of a tetrapod is the head and which the tail, 
whereas what is meant by anterior and posterior can sometimes be 
ambiguous (e.g. if the penguin acrocorocoid is located anteriorly, does 
this mean it's closer to the head or closer to the external surface of the 
chest?). Imagine if, in your hadrosaur description, your reader is 
imagining the animal standing bolt upright. You might want to give 
them a lesson in dinosaur anatomy but, more importantly, what you are 
calling anterior might, to them, be ventral (e.g. if you write 'anteriorly, 
the ribs become more gracile', what does this mean?). 

There's a much more succinct version of this argument in the archives - 
courtesy Larry Witmer. 

DARREN NAISH 
PALAEOBIOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road                           email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
Portsmouth UK                          tel (mobile): 0776 1372651     
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