Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chipmunk Stripes and Online Dictionaries

Eastern Chipmunk

This is the back of an Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus). He is petulantly sitting with his back to me. I don’t know why. I didn’t say or do nasty things to him. Honest. And I don’t know what that thing is over his head that looks almost like a cat paw. It’s not. Honest. But the photo does give me an opportunity to illustrate a feature of Eastern chipmunks that other chipmunks don’t have: five black stripes on their backs. The middle stripe goes right up their neck and over their forehead. In fact, the species name for these guys, striatus, means lines in Latin. Sort of. A web site that I read said so.

I went to an online Latin dictionary at http://www.babylon.com/definition/striatus/English to find out if this was true. This dictionary said that striatus means “engrailed engrallatus. V: provide with channels; groove; wrinkle.” Then I had to look those words up. Engrailed means “pertaining to an ornamental line that divides a shield into parts, or outlines a figure on the shield, and comprised of semi-circles with outward points.” It also means “indented in a series of curves. engrailment - The state of being engrailed or indented in curved lines.”  There were no definitions of engrallatus.

None of that was any help, so I highlighted the word striatus with my mouse and right-clicked to Google Translate. I got a different definition: striate. And adjectives (I assume that means synonyms) of wrinkly, lined, grooved and striated. So there. I proved that striatus means lined.


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1 comment:

  1. He's a cute little critter! We don't have them down here that I know of.


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