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Re: Triassic critter


(Explanation: Once upon a while I encounter German popular publications that
try to translate all scientific names -- that is, make up new German words
that nobody knows --, presumably to make them easier to understand or at
least to remember. A few labels in the museum here in Vienna are like this.
In 90 % of the cases (cf. Sturgeon's Revelation) the results are entirely
counterproductive, and highly embarrassing in addition. In this case, "hohl"
is "hollow", the skeleton is swept under the carpet, and the "Saurier" part
means... well... nothing.)>>

This appears to fit with Ernst Probst (the author of 'Deutschland in der
Urzeit' - Germany in Prehistoric Times), although I doubt he came up with
the word 'Hohlsaurier' himself.  If I remember correctly, he was a
journalist specialising in science and has since become a full-time author
and publisher.  There are some aspects of 'Deutschland in der Urzeit' that
left me giggling.  For example, it was related how /Tanystropheus/ probably
went extinct because it's neck became too long to function efficiently or
some such.  (Perhaps this was sexual selection favouring the starved look.)
Also the book is also not exactly a flowing read.

In fairness though, very few German books on anything that might be
considered academic are flowing reads.  There seems to be a tradition.  You
can either educate your readers or entertain them, but on no account may you
do both.  Consequently, if you're trying to inform them, make it as boring
as possilbe.  Some authors achieve that brilliantly (and I'm not referring
to Herr Probst).

There are two good reasons why I'm very grateful for that book by Ernst
Probst.  The first, considering it's a book dating from the 1980s aimed at
the general market, is that it's remarkably thorough and well indexed.
Finding /Koiliskiosaurus/ was easy.  The second is that a couple of
paragraphs introduced me to the delights of docodont mammals, and I've been
suffering the consequences of that bite ever since.  (Thirdly, it was
cheap.)  In some ways it's a magnificient book.