Monday, May 19, 2014

(If It Looks Like a) Duck or Turtle

 If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands. - Douglas Noel Adams
If the stone or group of stones looks like turtle, and especially a species specific turtle, on what Indigenous People called Turtle Island, we have to at least consider the possibility that we have a Testudinate Effigy of most likely Indigenous origin on our hands. - Me 

    I was going to be all sciencey this morning, start writing about patterns of Indigenous Stonework without using the expression “looks like.” It seems that my use of that expression has triggered a few less than flattering comments and criticisms in the past few weeks. I guess it is the most unscientific way to say something.
(The doctor said, “It looks like skin cancer.” So I asked him if he could state that more scientifically.)
      I use photographs to document Observations that I also describe in words. I make these observations with my senses, in particular my sense of sight – or my ophthalmoception, if you want to be truly scientific and confuse your spell-check program. 

"What a Turtle looks like," is okay to say if you are eight years old, but not 58:
(But then again, my six year old grandson is in the minority of people of any age who understands what the word "testudinate" means when I describe an observation of something that resembles a turtle.)

If I look at my friend’s photo of an unusual stone and I find it reminds me of a species specific turtle, I’m going to blurt out: “It looks like a stinkpot turtle!” And steal an image of one somewhere and do this so that you can see that I said what I said because that's what it looks like:

(Someone asks, "Is that red star Mars or the Dog Star?"
 I look at the star and say, "Looks like Mars."
"How do you know?" the first person asks.
 "Well, because it looks like Mars," I say.)

      If I climb up a hill side where almost every single stone seems to have been humanly enhanced or purposely placed and realize an outcrop has been enhanced to look like a very similar sort of species specific turtle, I’m probably going to say, “It looks like another Stinkpot!”
(or another kind of turtle with a long, wide neck and a low domed upper shell)
(and two eyes)

I'll do the same for the diamondback terrapin; if I find these stones placed on this row of stones above a salt marsh where diamondback terrapins live, of course I'm going to say, "It looks like a Malaclemys or diamondback terrapin."

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