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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Horn vs Antler

By Jack Ashby, on 11 July 2013

Bone of contention - is this horn or is this antler? It's horn.

Bone of contention – is this horn or is this antler?
Erm… It’s horn.

There are a few things that get certain zoologists wound up. I’m not talking about extinction and Jeremy Clarkson, I’m talking about relatively meaningless* distinctions that we like to pick up on when people land on the wrong side of  an invisible dichotomy. You can get blood boiling by referring to sabre-toothed “tigers” rather than “cats”; failing to say “non-avian” when referring to extinction of dinosaurs; or describing apes as monkeys (actually that’s technically true as apes evolved from monkeys and the rules of taxonomy therefore require apes to be monkeys). Among such picked-nits is the difference between horns and antlers. If only more people would remember this then fewer zoologists would die prematurely of high blood pressure… (more…)

Bear or Bare?

By Jack Ashby, on 18 June 2013

Whilst working on some new displays recently I stuck up a sign saying “Please bear with us whilst we develop new displays”. Some people thought this was a deliberate clever pun as the display included some bears and they believed the correct spelling to be “bare”. It seems that this is a common problem as the question “Bear or Bare” gets over 75 million results on Google. This may help you remember when to use “bear” and when to use “bare”.

1) If you are talking about the large mammal, say “bear”.

2) The adjective meaning naked is “bare”.

3) The verb meaning to carry or hold is “bear”. For example:

Bear in Mind  That's a bear's brain, by the way. And the skeleton's a bear too

Bear in Mind
That’s a bear’s brain, by the way. And the skeleton’s a bear too