How To Make It Plural

Everyone has that small linguistic pet peeve. For some, it’s the differentiation between well and good. For others, it’s the improper use of apostrophes. For me, it’s improper plurals in scientific jargon.

Femur

When most English speakers need to make a word plural, the first instinct is to just add an ‘s’ to the end; if one is femur, then two must be femurs. Nope. Of all of these linguistic sins, in my experience this one is the most common. To make the word ‘femur’ plural, you add an ‘a’ instead of an ‘s’ (and tweak the spelling a bit); one is a femur and two are femora. Besides, femora is just more fun to say!

Radius

Let’s stick with the osteological focus. Again, for most people their first instinct is to turn ‘radius’ into ‘radiuses’ in order to make it plural. Instead, take off the ‘us’ and add an ‘i’; one is a radius, two are radii. Radii is one of my favorite plural words and it’s just so much fun to say!

Scapula

And the last osteological term: scapula. And again, don’t add an ‘s’, just add an ‘e’. That probably seems counterintuitive but one is a scapula and two are scapulae.

Genus

Genus is a tough one. Some people default to trying to simply add an ‘s’ but others seem to know thats not right and try something else. Others don’t change the word at all in order to make it plural. I’ve heard many variations but the most common are ‘genuses’ and ‘genii’. Genus doesn’t act like the other words in this list; the plural form of ‘genus’ is ‘genera’. So that’s it.

Femur -> Femora, Radius -> Radii, Scapula -> Scapulae, Genus -> Genera.

And if this is confusing, just do what I do: use a different word! I tell my students that synonyms are for when you can’t spell or pronounce the word that you actually want to use. But really, don’t let this scare you. When in doubt, just power through and act confident even if you don’t feel it.

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I still listen to a lot of podcasts (Part 2)

My brother asked me when ‘soon’ is, so it must be time for more podcast suggestions!

If you’re looking for hours of podcasts, look no further than Science… sort of. They currently have more than 200 episodes, most of which are at least an hour in length. This podcast features a rotating cast of characters, drinking beer and talking about “science, things that are sort of science, and things that wish they were science”. I have done hours of data analysis while listening and I would often giggle to myself (My brother’s Christmas gift was inspired by this podcast). If you’re not interested in the science, you can at least be impressed by their beer choices!

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine has a bit of an unwieldy name, but it is a fantastic podcast. Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin talk about the history of medicine. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s disgusting, but it’s always enlightening. Episodes are about 30 minutes long, so they’re easy to marathon (and I definitely have). If you have any interest in science or medicine, I highly recommend Sawbones!

If you like food and science, listen to Gastropod; I like to listen to it while I cook. Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley talk about the intersection between food and science. Topics range from the way that our cutlery influences flavor to apples varieties to the importance of entomophagy. Regular 45 minute episodes are interspersed with smaller ‘Bites’, so you don’t have to wait too long between episodes. Nicola and Cynthia are obviously passionate about the topic and I honestly wish the episodes were longer!

No Such Thing As A Fish isn’t quite like the other podcasts on this list, but I still think it deserves a place. This is a weekly trivia podcast that covers every topic under the sun, from why Scottish military men no longer wear kilts in battle to mouse lingerie to special editions of Chuck Norris films. I often bring up things that I have learned from the podcast in conversation. If you want to sound clever at parties, listen to No Such Thing As A Fish.

This is all for now, but I’m sure I’ll add more podcasts as I discover them. Happy listening!

2014 by the numbers

I love quantifying things, so here I go quantifying 2014 (I took the idea from Alex at The Lab and Field).

8,964

The roundtrip distance (in km) of my trip to Vancouver for the GSA Annual Meeting. (It would have been less if I hadn’t had to fly to Canada by way of Texas.)

4,568

The total number of page views on this blog! Thank you everyone for your interest!

536

The total number of followers on Twitter. Twitter has been my source for academic insight and I’ve had many great conversations with these people.

191

Page views for my most popular post this year: Video Game Paleontology: Piranha Plants, Yoshi, and the Fossil Record.

23

The number of people who backed my crowdfunding campaign to present at the GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver. To be honest, I was surprised that strangers were willing to support my research financially. Crowdfunding was an eye-opening experience in many ways.

22

The number of posts on this blog. Abysmally low, but I’d like to think it shows quality over quantity.

6

The number of applications submitted this year.

3

The number of states I called home this year: Tennessee, Colorado, and Michigan.

2

The number of conferences I attended: North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC) in February and Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (GSA) in October.

Here’s to 2015 and a new set of numbers!