Talk:Hypogeomys australis/GA1

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GA Review[edit]

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Reviewer: SpinningSpark 14:14, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Lede
  • C4 and CAM are jargon. Even though, they are wikilinked, they should still be explained in the article, or else replaced with plain English phrases.
  • Those are fairly basic biological topics, and also topics that are hard to explain in a few words. Therefore, I think it's best to just keep them as links.
  • It would be useful to give the common name of H. antimena also, perhaps in brackets.
  • Rather not; see below for more.
  • Taxonomy
  • Grandidier described another subfossil Hypogeomys species in 1912, H. boulei, but that species was based on material of the enigmatic mammal Plesiorycteropus.
  • Presumably, Grandidier is describing another Hypogeomys, but the sentence reads as if he is describing another subfossil. If so, the first subfossil is not identified.
  • It might be best to quickly explain what a subfossil is, as well as the wikilink. It is not a commonly understood word.
  • It is not clear to me how H. boulei was found from the Plesiorycteropus material. Does the Plesiorycteropus eat them?
  • H. australis was also based on subfossil material; clarified that. "Subfossil" has the same problem as C4 and CAM, above: hard to explain in a few words and basic enough that we may expect an informed reader to know what it means. The material (a pelvis bone, if I recall correctly) that Grandidier described H. boulei from turned out to represent Plesiorycteropus, and I can't see how the sentence can be reasonably interpreted differently. Clarified anyway.
  • The common name of the closest relative is given as "votsovotsa", but the linked article is entitled "Malagasy Giant Rat". The usual rule on Wikipedia is to use the most common name as a title, it this is really the most common name, it should be used here.
  • The article on H. antimena should be at the scientific name per WP:RODENT guidelines, but I haven't done that yet. The most common vernacular name appears to actually be "giant jumping rat", but I just got rid of the vernacular name here.
  • Should "votsovotsa" be capitalised?
  • Can you wikilink Microgale either piped through shrew tenrec or in the genus component of Microgale macpheei.
  • Why? M. macpheei will have its own article soon.
  • large animals such as subfossil lemurs. "Subfossil lemur" is not a taxon. Do you mean large animals such as extinct lemurs known only from subfossils ?
  • Neither does it imply that "subfossil lemur" is a taxon. An article is currently being written at subfossil lemur which will nicely complement this piece.
  • Dipsochelys tortoises and Aepyornis and Mullerornis birds all went extinct. Needs a comma after tortoises, without it it reads like there are too many "and"s in the list. Aepyornis and Mullerornis both link to the same article. Unless these are likely to get their own articles, it might be best to link together as Aepyornis and Mullerornis. Again, it would be helpful to give the common name here, for instance: Aepyornis and Mullerornis Elephant Birds.
  • Added serial comma. Aepyornis and Mullerornis do not link to the same article, although the latter article is incorrectly redirected to the family article, which itself is mistakenly titled Elephant Bird instead of the correct elephant bird.
  • Created stub for Mullerornis. Ucucha 18:55, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Description
  • Hypogeomys australis is generally similar to H. antimena,[6] which is the largest living rodent of Madagascar,[10] but even larger, with little if any overlap in measurements. Possibly only me being perverse, but it seems that it is possible to misinterpret that sentence regarding which is larger.
  • I don't think that is a likely misinterpretation. I did change "is" to "was", as H. australis is extinct.
  • Distribution and ecology
  • Antsirabe should be wikilinked. Probably Andrahomana should be redlinked - it has incoming links already from other articles.
  • Linked.
  • which has also undergone a dramatic reduction. I think the "also" is superfluous there. It is also confusing, while logically true that the extinction of H. australis is a "dramatic reduction", it has the potential to confuse.
  • Removed "also".
  • Rather not; the linked article adds nothing to the article and the meaning of the word is clear from context. On second thought, replaced it with the more commonly understandable "relative".
  • H. australis shows relatively high δ13C values, likely because it ate C4 or CAM plants. An entirely jargon sentence requiring the reader to read three other articles besides this one before they have even a hope of understanding it. Also, the wikilink goes to carbon-13 instead of the more appropriate δ13C
  • Sorry, missed the more specific article on the isotope ratio. I added a little clarification.
  • Images - all check out
  • References - all check out except one small problem
  • The page range given for Musser and Carlton is extremely large (894–1531) and I am having difficulty verifying exclusively Madagascan subfamily Nesomyinae in either the online version or Google books version. The fact is not in the Muroidea page cited in the reference, nor does it appear to be stated in the Nesomyinae, Hypogeomys or Hypogeomys antimena pages, which search has exhausted my, admittedly extremely limited, knowledge of taxonomy.
  • The account of Nesomyinae says "Living members endemic to Madagascar", where "endemic" means "restricted", and goes on to explain that there are no undoubted records outside Madagascar. I added a few specific pages.
  • Reference [14] is not following punctuation, I think that could safely be moved to the end of the sentence, the fact is not so extraordinary to need special highlighting. Likewise reference [1].
  • Agreed they do not need to follow punctuation, it is merely a suggestion that it is unnecessary here and could clear up some clutter. SpinningSpark 12:37, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
  • The clutter is limited, and I think it's important to make clear exactly which source is used for each fact. Ucucha 15:20, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Is the Musser and Carleton p.952 reference meant to be pointing to the H. antimena entry? If so, I am seeing it on p.951. SpinningSpark 21:13, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
Indeed it is, now corrected. Thanks for the thoroughness in reviewing. Ucucha 21:17, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
  • SpinningSpark 16:46, 22 May 2010 (UTC) to 17:15, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for reviewing! I have placed some answers above. Ucucha 18:08, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Before I deal with your responses in detail, I think we need to have a discussion on the use of technical terms. I am detecting a reluctance to explain technical terms. Wikipedia is not like a textbook where the reader can be expected to have digested all the more basic concepts before moving on to later chapters. Nor should it have the appearance of a collection of scientific papers. It is possible that a reader might go straight to any article on Wikipedia and there is a need that each one is stand-alone readable. Links can be provided for the user to find further information but sentences that are only intelligble after reading other articles are not acceptable. Articles should be accesible to a general reader, most especially the lede, which should be understandable by anybody.
I understand where you are coming from, I write technical articles myself in the field of electronics theory and often catch hell over just this issue, so please don't take this as any kind of personal criticism. It is very easy to be misled into thinking that terminology one has used all ones professional life on a daily basis is widely understood, and it often comes as a surprise to me to discover that it is not. I would be willing to bet money that if you carried out a street corner survey you would not find a majority (or anywhere near) who could tell you what even one of δ13C, C4 or CAM meant. I did not know the last two. I happened to know what δ13C means, but it is not my field and I probably went through the first 30 or 40 years of my life without knowing. I did not know what congener meant until I looked it up. Technical terms need to be defined on first use. Another approach I have used on longer articles is to create a terminology section at the beginning of the article and try to keep those terms out of the lede.
On the scientific names issue, I was not suggesting that any particular article should, or should not, be titled by its scientific/common name (although WP:RODENT should, and it appears does, flow down from WP:TITLE, which I note has a rodent amongst its examples). What I am suggesting is that where a vernacular name has some currency, it is helpful to the reader to mention it.
SpinningSpark 10:55, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
I largely agree with what you're saying (note that throughout the article, technical terms like "maxilla" and "occlusal" are glossed), but would like to focus on the specific issue here. This is an article about an extinct rodent, not about modes of carbon fixation or about isotope fractionation. The article states clearly what the isotope data mean—it ate arid-adapted plants—and what that conclusion is based on. I do not believe this article should explain how C4 and CAM plants acquire elevated δ13C values, or how C4 and CAM differ from normal (C3) photosynthesis; those things aren't essential for the point the article is making and the reader who is interested in these things can go on to the other articles.
I do not see the point in mentioning a fairly rarely used common name for a species that is not the subject of this article. Ucucha 11:18, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
It is not necessary to explain the process, but if the terms are needed in the article, then they need to be understood by the reader. For instance, in an article which uses Gauss's law, it might not be necessary to explain why
but it is expected that the meaning of the symbols is stated without expecting the reader to have to follow the link to find out.
On the names, if it rarely used, it is not common and I agree not needed. I was merely basing my comment on the title of the Wikipedia article, but defer to your knowledge on this.
SpinningSpark 13:16, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
Of course, when you include a formula, the terms should be defined. But I do not see that that is comparable to our situation, and I do not see how "defining" these terms will improve this article. Ucucha 13:19, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
Also, where does your objection appear in the GA criteria? Ucucha 14:25, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
1a SpinningSpark 14:33, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
"The prose is clear"? Fair enough; I hadn't thought of interpreting that piece like that. But I think the prose here is clear enough, and any attempt at adding more clarity will not improve the article. The wording I already added makes clear what C4 and CAM are, so only the isotope ratio remains. I considered adding something like "remains of H. australis show relatively high levels of the isotope carbon-13", but I don't think that's helpful: as you said, most people won't understand what δ13C is—will they be any more likely to understand what isotopes are and what carbon-13 means? I think the article would additionally run foul of another GA criterion, which requires that the article stay focused on the main topic, if I add more about these isotopes. Ucucha 19:37, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

SpinningSpark invited me to comment here. The article is short and I would not overload it with lengthy definitions, but,

  • 13C" and "C4 plants" is jargon which could be avoided;
  • carbon-13 might be a bit friendlier than 13C for non-scientists;
  • CAM is used only once and it is not one of those "legitimate" abbreviations like AC/DC or US which don't need to be defined;
  • my admittedly very naive understanding was that C4 is not a mode of photosynthesis but its part; anyway, "plants; both of these modes of photosynthesis" sounds odd. Thus, I would suggest a draft rewriting as

H. australis shows relatively high content of carbon-13 isotope, likely because it ate some plants which were enriched in carbon-13 through C4 carbon fixation and crassulacean acid metabolism; both of these photosynthesis-related processes occur most frequently in plants adapted to dry environments.

One more comment, Holocene Extinctions is free to read on google books. Why not linking it? Materialscientist (talk) 03:41, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Good, I've used that wording, and added the link to Turvey's book. Ucucha 06:53, 24 May 2010 (UTC)