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A Dictionary of Zoology Paperback – Feb 22 2009
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`Review from previous edition a fine compendium of unquestionable use...Make sure you have an Allaby handy' Nature
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My Verdict : : 3-and-a-half stars.
Firstly, the Positives:
- terse and very comprehensive, usually with compact one paragraph definitions. If you added together the glossaries of every zoology textbook in existence, and made the entries longer, you would come up with something similar to this dictionary.
- This dictionary is a comprehensive "de-jargonizer" and definer of specialized words used in biological science, because of its truly colossal number of entries.
- comprehensive and up-to-date coverage of the specialized jargon and language of zoology
- a high degree of accuracy
- adopts a rigorous and precise classification system for the organisms being discussed. At every taxonomic level, entries generally use the Latin names of animals and groups of animals, resulting in high accuracy for the specialist reader.(conversely, this causes intense frustration for readers with modest biology knowledge)
And Now for the Negatives:
- The explanatory prose in the entries is not always very helpful, unless you have the equivalent of a few units of college and/or university biology under your belt. Some of the entries could do with a good editor to clarify them and make the meaning clearer.
- headings of the entries often use scientific (Linnaean)(taxonomic) names of organisms and groups of organisms instead of the commonly used (= 'popular') names of organisms and groups of organisms, even in those cases where an organism does have a commonly and widely accepted 'popular' name in the English speaking world. This practise will cause constant and intense frustration for the general (non-specialist) reader; so people not conversant with biological classification and the Latin scientific names of organisms will often NOT be able to find the dictionary entry for a particular animal.
- Allaby all too commonly resorts to large quantities of specialized jargon when he is trying to explain the meaning of a specialized word. It is not wise for this dictionary to use large amounts of impenetrable jargon in order to explain the meaning of an already obscure term! This is well illustrated by part of this dictionary's definition of the order Mytiloida:
"(.....)They have a dysodont dentition, the ligament is parivincular and opisthodetic, and the gills are eulamellibranchiate and filibranchiate".
IS THIS DICTIONARY SUITABLE FOR YOU?
- if you are a beginner in biology, you will find this dictionary too jargon-laden and hard to understand.
- This reference is moderately useful for the knowledgable biology enthusiast and for the experienced amateur biologist.
- the high readership level of this reference implies that it is not suited to school students or lower college-level biology students
- this work really begins to shine as a "quick lookup reference" if the reader already has a significant level of knowledge of biology; so it is very handy for the university student and the upper college-level student.
- For science graduates and for early-career professional zoologists, this dictionary provides an excellent "quick lookup" which explains the meaning of the terms that one finds in the scientific literature.
More for the professional than the hobbyist. Still, it has the vocabulary if you are reading difficult texts.
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