[Taxacom] Alienating the general public

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Fri Jul 24 21:54:14 CDT 2009

Calm down Ken - I'm not putting you in the ivory tower/"the peasants  
are revolting!" league! I'm sure that the last thing you want to do is  
to alienate anybody! You are correct inasmuch that the term Metazoa  
does indeed occur in general-purpose dictionaries, and the like, but I  
think you will find that its definitions are hopelessly incosistent  
and confused. Take for example this useful looking online dictionary  
(it will even let you know how long you have left to live - provided  
that it is long enough to be able to answer all 10 questions!!!):


I quote this from it: 'In all classifications, the only animal forms  
not included in the Metazoa are the single-celled protozoa (Protista)  
and the independently evolved sponges (Parazoa)'

Interesting ... in ALL classifications, sponges are EXCLUDED from Metazoa...


Quoting Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>:

> Hi Stephen,
>       I am certainly not in favor of alienating the public
> ("town vs. gown") by using technical terminology for its own sake (or
> just to impress others), especially in an inappropriate forum. However,
> the name Metazoa is just borderline technical, and has been in use since
> the 1870's in a wide variety of popular publications (as wel as being
> taught in many of our science classrooms). Still, I have not seen any
> public outcry over its use. Metazoa very commonly occurs in general
> purpose (non-technical) dictionaries.
>         If you want to alienate the public, you'd have
> much better luck using something like Class Sauropsida for the reptiles,
> instead of Class Reptilia, just because the latter is paraphyletic. And
> furthermore, this would alienate a lot of biologists at the same time.
> Try doing a Google Scholar search for Sauropsida. It only gets about
> 1,220 hits, whereas Reptilia gets over 71,000. And that disparity is
> just among scholarly publications. Good luck finding Sauropsida (or
> sauropsid) in many dictionaries either. And the name Sauropsida was
> proposed almost a century ago, so it's not like it hasn't had enough
> time to gain the general acceptance that Metazoa has.  Even though both
> are clearly clades, Metazoa has gained widespread acceptance while
> Sauropsida has not.  Sauropsida is not even widely used by scholars
> (much less the general public), so it is far more alienating to a whole
> lot more people.
>                       ------Ken
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