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Re: CRANIAL-CAUDAL vs ANTERO-POSTERIOR
I run into brontosaur in print or
conversation about once a week, but nobody has ever said apatosaur.
Maybe not adults, but I've heard it from children a-plenty!
Glad we got over that unpleasantness about the metric system, too.
Well, this country hasn't officially switched to the metric system, so
expecting the public to be fluent with it is probably unreasonable. (As for
_why_ we haven't switched, I'm not exactly certain, but I suspect it has a
great deal to do with having to expand all the football fields to have
"meter lines" instead of "yardlines;" the subsequent increase in actual
physical work the athlete's would have to then do would cause them to demand
substantial pay increases, and the economy would then collapse. ;-D ) At
any rate, metric _is_ the standard _within_ science, and although I
certainly wouldn't consider myself fluent with it, I do use it because it
enhances communicability with fellow scientists.
Not onlist because this can sound like a dispute, but please don't assume
that scientists 'own' science.
I don't see where that is a tacit assumption in making a paradigm shift
to a new system -- and certainly, we should never _not_ make such a shift
simply because it will confuse the non-scientific community! ...but at any
rate, that's beside the point: various sciences have certainly undergone any
number of paradigm shifts, generally from more simplistic to more complex
yet more descriptive frames (for example, the changes throughout history
concerning the composition of the atom) because the "new" frame excludes a
great deal of ambiguity present in former frames and allows new hypotheses
to be constructed. Probably because scientists generally communicate
_first_ with other scientists, such shifts occur within the scientific
community before it spreads into non-scientific circles (and, I would
assume, that amateur scientists and teachers have a great deal to do with
this!) -- thus, there is an inevitable lag time between a change in
scientific terminology and seeing that same change pervade the public
resource base. Restricting the use of "anterior" and "posterior" and
expanding the use of "cranial," "caudal," "rostral," etc. has been the norm
in anatomical circles for quite a long time now -- I'm surprised it's taken
this long to make it into paleontological circles, but I expcet that, in
several more decades, it'll become the norm in most places.
Jerry D. Harris
Dept of Earth & Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania
240 S 33rd St
Philadelphia PA 19104-6316
Phone: (215) 573-8373
Fax: (215) 898-0964
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