13 Scientific Terms You Might Be Using Wrong

If you read about science on the internet, you’ve probably run into the embarrassing misuse of the words “poisonous” and “venomous.” And you might want to tear your hair out when someone says “evolution is just a theory.” Those are some of the science terms that laymen often use incorrectly. “Microbe” is another -one that I use a lot, because its a useful synonym, especially when you aren’t sure how to classify those little critters. Here’s one I didn’t know: "hominins."

Homo sapiens are the only remaining descendants of a once-varied group of primates called the Hominini. You’re probably used to using the term hominids to refer to humans and their ancestors, and not long ago, you would have been correct—but recently, the definition of that word has expanded to refer to all great apes and their ancestors. Instead, you should be using the word hominins to describe the group comprised of modern humans, extinct human species, and our immediate ancestors.

There are 13 such terms we should all learn to use as scientists do, in a list at mental_floss. There are also videos further explaining some of the terms.

(Image credit: Profberger)


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