On Meeting Georges Cuvier, Version 2.0

I love sidewalk chats and presentations for impromptu on-the-ground teaching. They’re especially effective when you have a live animal in your hands. Over the years I’ve been lucky to hold and present many different species, particularly reptiles, including the lovely and colorful Mali Uromastyx.

The other day, while holding a Mali, I had quite the conversation with an eight year old who must’ve been the reincarnation of Georges Cuvier.

Cuvier: “What kind of lizard is that?”

Me: “It’s a Mali Uromastyx, they’re from sub-Saharan Africa.”

Cuvier: “He kind of reminds me of an anklyosaurus.”

Me: “Ankylosaurus, hmm.  Those are the ones with the big lob tails and the spikes, right?”

Cuvier: “Well yeeeeah. So does your lizard have osteoderms too?”

Me: “Um.. osteoderms. Do you mean modified scales? Like scutes?”

Cuvier (with a look of disdain): “Only non-scientists call them scutes.”

Eight years old, ladies and gentlemen.

I just finished up a post the other day discussing my love of jargon and here we have an eight year old who calls me on the floor with “osteoderm” and I flub it. Good grief!

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