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Mike Keesey speaks dinosaurish

Mike Keesey posted (facebook) this very cool people-speak translation as an experiment in communicating specific ideas “to laypeople without using words like Aviremiges and Ornithothoraces”.

Triceratops is a stem-bird but not a birdfoot. Carnotaurus is a birdfoot but not a birdfeather. Compsognathus is a birdfeather but not a birdwing. Velociraptor is a birdwing but not a birdflier. Confuciusornis is a birdflier but not a birdbody. Enantiornis is a birdbody but not a birdtail. Ichthyornis is a birdtail but not (quite) a bird.

Pete Buchholz chimed in:

The new birds are split into the beyond birds and the crown birds. The beyond birds are made up of dove forms and swift forms. Flamingos and grebes are admirable birds and are within the pigeon forms. The crown birds are made up of the-big-pelican-group and a clade of plover shapes and the-big-sparrow-group…..‚Äč..

There are 2 Comments to this article

Albertonykus says:
08/11/2011

Damn, that’s good. Win.

Traumador the Tyrannosaur says:
08/12/2011

I wish all scientists would talk like this MORE!

I don’t think they realize how much damage scientists help cause to the whole cultural downturn on science when they make their terminology inaccessible to people. We are in an age where science is seen as unimportant and the enemy of society. The last thing we should be doing is making that worse by not engaging people with it.

While I understand why latin was originally used in science, the scientific community (and its supporters) have taken it too far in recent years. The current trend of taxonomic drawer shifting with more complex and complicated latin names (simply because the researcher thinks they are “cool) in reality are perfectly built too bore the average person (or heck palaeo enthusisat like me). People connect with names, and if they can’t read or pronounce a name their never going associate a relivant meaning with it.

We should be aiming for more language like Mike Keesey uses here or how Thomas Holtz describes Dinosaurs in his book. I can’t get over how many times I’ve had people get on my case (through Traumador) because I grabbed the wrong ending letters for a family or group (id vs. idae vs. inae), where in reality it doesn’t matter. I was trying my best to connect with someone who doesn’t have any knowledge in the field, which is hard enough at the best of the times.

We should be using marketing tactics to get people interested in all this stuff… One of the key principals of marketing is a catchy identifiable name. Mike’s breakdown of the bird classification latin into these easy to get names should be brought in as the offical names used all the time, except perhaps in that scientist private realm of the literature.

This is just my rant, but speaking as someone in the education field, and at the forefront of trying to sell science to non-interested people, the constant use of latin terms and techno babble make it an uphill battle…

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