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edited by Beth Notzon and Edith Paal
If you’re editing a manuscript on prophylac-
tion for “basal metabolic rate”; its definition
tic surgery and need to check the meaning is then provided under basal metabolic rate. of oophorectomy
, if you’re watching a news Abbreviations about health-care manage-story on recent drugs used to treat Parkinson
disease and can’t remember its symptoms, PPO—are included as well.
or if you need to know the definitions of
and how they differ, names (such as acetaminophen, Benadryl, you can find your answers in The American
Pepto-Bismol, ranitidine, and Valtrex) are Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
included, but full definitions are provided
Now in its second edition, The American
under the generic names. For instance,
Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
Tums is defined as “a trademark for an
two respected publications to create a useful
reference tool for homes, public libraries, carbonate”; a user must then look up cal-and medical writers and editors. The editors
cium carbonate to learn that it is “a calcium
at American Heritage
aim to make Stedman’s
salt used as a dietary supplement and as an
accessible to users who may not have a antacid”.
medical background by providing what they
call “jargon-free definitions” of medical friendly, one may look up a term only to terms. This publication might also appeal to
those with a medical background who need used in the definition. This often occurs
THE AMERICAN HERITAGE STEDMAN’S
concise, straightforward definitions.
in reference works but is perhaps especially
MEDICAL DICTIONARY, SECOND EDITION.
According to its publishers, The American
notable in a dictionary that claims to be
BOSTON, NEW YORK: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN Heritage Stedman
’s has 45,000 defini-
free of jargon. For example, the definition
COMPANY; 2004. XXXII + 909 PAGES.
tions—more than Webster’s New World
of passive anaphylaxis states that it is “an HARDCOVER $27.00. ISBN 0-618-42899-2.
(8000 terms) and The
anaphylactic response . . .”, causing some New American Medical Dictionary and Health
users to have to look up anaphylactic. In
(10,000 terms), which are also another instance, keratocyte is defined as works that provide concise definitions. It “a fibroblastic stromal cell of the cornea”. even has a greater number of entries than Depending on a user’s level of knowledge, some dictionaries with more in-depth defi-
he or she may then have to look up fibro-
nitions, such as Black’s Medical Dictionary
blastic, stromal, or cornea. Thus, the claims
(5000 terms) and Melloni’s Illustrated Medical
to provide jargon-free definitions are some-
(30,000 terms). Of course, being times undermined by the inherent difficul-a concise dictionary, it has nowhere near ties of explaining medical terms without the 102,000 terms that the full-sized illus-
trated Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
To illustrate select definitions, this vol-
the 123,000 terms of Dorland’s Illustrated
ume is sprinkled with more than 80 black-Medical Dictionary
and-white line drawings for such terms as
Entries cover a wide array of terms, such asthma, biopsy, brain, cerebral embolism,
as group therapy, HDL, love handle, moron,
Nicorette, New Hampshire rule, opposer crine system, joint, lung, polyp, mitosis, muscle of the little finger, peptide bond, and mitochondrion. Also featured are more and potassium-40. Although entries do than 400 short biographic entries on such not provide subheads, they do include pro-
people as British anatomist Henry Gray and
nunciations and part-of-speech labels. The American biochemist Stanley Cohen.
average entry is about three to four lines
Introductory materials feature a guide to
long; the longest definition I found was 11 the dictionary, a pronunciation key, and lines long.
include a measurement chart, a metric-con-
viations, so it is helpful that this dictionary version chart, recommended daily allowances defines them. For example, the entry for of vitamins and minerals, and a periodic table BMR indicates that the term is an abbrevia-
of the elements. The appendixes also provide
Science Editor • January – February 2006 • Vol 29 • No 1 • 21
black-and-white illustrations of skeletal tions and reference materials, The American
muscles, the skeleton, the vascular system, Heritage Stedman’s
will, for the most part, and the nervous system. However, the back meet the needs of those with or without a matter of The American Heritage Stedman’s
medical background who are searching for
not as rich as that in more technical diction-
a concise dictionary. If you want a six-line
aries geared toward specialists or that in some
definition of heart
accompanied by one
other jargon-free dictionaries, which provide black-and-white line drawing, this is the such information as basic first-aid treatment; reference tool for you. If you’re looking for a guides to symptoms, diseases, and pharma-
more substantial definition, many subheads,
ceuticals; and lists of medical roots, prefixes, and more detailed drawings, try Dorland’s
or and suffixes.
The 11 thumb tabs facilitate the finding
of words, and the font is large enough to
make reading easy. Unlike some medical dictionaries, this book isn’t too heavy (only MARTHA MORRISON is an associate scien-
3 lb) and can be easily carried with one tific editor in the Department of Scientific
hand. (The full-sized Stedman’s
weighs 6.6 Publications at the University of Texas M D
lb and Dorland’s
more than 8.5 lb.)
want a dictionary with more in-depth defini-
EVOLVING EDEN: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE
Book Notes TO THE EVOLUTION OF THE AFRICAN LARGE-
excellent overviews of the geographic
MAMMAL FAUNA. ALAN TURNER AND
MAURICIO ANTON. NEW YORK: COLUMBIA
Africa over the past 3.5 billion years and
UNIVERSITY PRESS; 2004. XVIII + 269 PAGES.
HARDCOVER. $39.50. ISBN 0-231-11944-5.
evolution. The third chapter constitutes the bulk of the book. It is devoted to “an
although written for the outline of each of the orders of large ter-lay reader, is not for the reader with only restrial mammals known from Africa and a passing interest in the animal evolution the range of species assigned to the various of Africa, but for the person with a serious families”. The final chapter is probably the desire for in-depth knowledge of the his-
tory of mammalian evolution in Africa as book to achieve its aim, which is to pro-it played out over the last 65 million years, vide a three-dimensional look (a synthesis) when mammals came into their own, so to at prehistoric African wildlife that takes speak, with the disappearance of the dino-
saurs. As the authors note in the epilogue, climate, the geography, and the habitat at the mammals of Africa are an important particular times, starting 30 million years focus of paleontology because “Africa is ago. Attractively designed and beautifully one of the richest biotic regions on Earth, illustrated by one of the authors (Mauricio a zoogeographic realm in itself, with Anton), the book is written in a very around one-quarter of all the living species engaging style that is also solidly scientific of mammals and a vast array of plants”—a in content.
veritable Garden of Eden and thus the
inspiration for the title of the book. The
impetus for the book was the new informa-tion about mammalian evolution revealed BETH NOTZON is a scientific publications
with new technology—but not DNA tech-
manager at the University of Texas M D
nology. The fossil record remains the most Anderson Cancer Center.
reliable source of information about animal evolution in Africa.
22 • Science Editor • January – February 2006 • Vol 29 • No 1
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