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----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Taylor" <mike@tecc.co.uk>
To: <dinogami@hotmail.com>
Cc: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 4:40 PM

> > Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 07:14:07 -0700
> > From: "Jerry D. Harris" <dinogami@hotmail.com>
> >
> > 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 suppose the problem is not just with the change per se, but that the
> new terms are such rubbish.  I mean really, different terms for "the
> bit that faces forwards" depending on whether you're talking about
> part of the skull or something somewhere else.  Pah.  And _then_
> naming the forward-within-the-skull direction after a bone that only
> occurs in ceratopsians anyway!  Honestly.  You'd think that the term
> "rostral process" in a theropod would refer to something that points
> in the direction of the nearest Triceratops!  :-)

In general, "rostrum" only means snout or beak, and this term is used for
lots of animals, even belemnites have a part of their shells called rostrum.
Therefore, the neomorph bone in the beak of ceratopsians is called
"snout/beak bone" -- os rostrale, not the other way around.
        I have never had problems understanding the "new" terms since I read
The Dinosauria (means, I can't remember having had problems --
alzheimer???), except when someone wrote about proximal and distal ends of
ribs, but in this case proximal seems to refer to the end nearer to the
vertebral column.

> On the related subject of metric vs. imperial, given that we all agree
> (don't we?) that metric _has_ to be The Right Thing, I wonder how many
> more of you share with me a total lack of intuition for what meters
> and kilograms _feel_ like.  That is, if I read that a certain theropod
> is 4m long, I can't form much of a mental picture of it; but once I've
> multiplied by 39/12ths, I'm fine envisaging an animal thirteen feet
> long.  Is it just me?

Well. In all non-English-speaking countries on the globe AFAIK (including e.
g. Russia and China!), people are in the opposite situation (and were in the
situation the English-speaking ones are in now well over 100 years ago).  E.
g. I know how large 15'', 17'' and 19'' screens are, and 8'', 5 1/4'' and 3
1/2'' floppy disks (I don't play baseball...), but if someone tells me that
a sauropod is 160 feet long, this just tells me "very big"; it takes me up
to a minute to "round" this to 150, divide it by 3, get "well over 50 m" and
think "hmmm, either this one is _really humongous_, or something is wrong
here...", and if I want the correct value for 160 feet in meters, I have to
consult a dictionary (I'm usually too lazy for this :-] ) and an electronic
calculator: 30.48 cm x 160 = 4876.8 cm = 48.768 m -- surprise, my estimate
"well over 50 m" was wrong after all, and though still humongous, this is in
the probable size range of, say, *Seismosaurus*. Even though 30.48 cm isn't
far away from 1/3 m = 33.333333... cm. :-o

        And when I read "ton", I hardly ever know whether this is a UK
(long) ton (1016.05 kg), a US (short) ton (907.185 kg) or a metric ton(ne)
(1000 kg), and even if, this doesn't say much to me.
        While we are at it, miles per hour are horror for me personally (as
are meters per second, the "most scientific" unit, but at least these will
give km/h when multiplied with exactly 3.6).

It is possible to form mental images for metric units :-) -- 1 cm is the
breadth of a fingernail, when you extend your thumbs and forefingers fully
their tips will be 15 to 20 cm apart, depending on the size of your hands,
you yourselves are probably around "1 meter 70 to 80" tall on average, and
because the density of water is for all practical purposes 1, a 1.5 liter
bottle of Coca Cola equals 1.5 kg (sorry for "advertising" here, but I don't
think milk is sold in 1-liter-packs "out there" as it is in continental
Europe, is it?), a large car has a tonne, and so on.
        Hey, I've found a convenient example -- Donald F. Glut's _Dinosaurs:
The Encyclopedia_ has 2.5 kg! =8-)