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On Learning

Learning a thing or two through the insight of the sighting the hind of dinosaurs…

SHGenerally it is no rocket science learning with the help of hindsight. Holmes was pretty much convinced about it in the case of the Dancing Men.

However recently I had an opportunity to actually learn from hind sight and looking forward.

Dino1Recently, I was to spend my day at a place where I had an uninterrupted view of a wooden lattice. Someone on the other side, a dinosaur enthusiast, had neatly arranged seven miniatures of them behind the lattice.

I could only see the hind of the models.  I tried identifying them. The second from the right looked like Triceratops. That was 1/7. I then tried identifying the rest. I drew a naught, as my trivia knowledge ran foul.

dimetrodonI then tried whether Google could help me. The image upload mechanism failed miserably. So I tried the descriptive method. The second one from the left seemed to have a fin-shaped back. So I tried fin back dinosaur as the keywords. Voila! I got a hit – ‘Dimetrodon’. In any case I was convinced it was.

ankylosaurusI got more ambitious. So I tried the one on the extreme left. It seemed to have a ball-shaped tail. Perhaps it was a tail-banger of sorts. So I tried ball tailed dinosaur. Success once more! ‘Ankylosaurus’ reported Google. Yes said Wikipedia. Here is the proof.

Two out of six. I was happy. I tried something in the currently living domain – a caterpillar. A friend of mine had sent a picture. Since it was a clear shot of the insect, I tried the image upload technique. It did not provide very good results. The results however confirmed that what I was sent,  was a moth. Since it was pretty colourful , green and spotted in red, with Mohawk style tufts on its back, I tried the key words – green and red-spotted Mohawk tuft caterpillar and since it also looked like toothbrush bristle on the back side I tried the keywords toothbrush bristle caterpillar. The former resulted in a moth called Orgyia antiqua. The latter search showed only tooth brushes. So I modified to search for toothbrush bristle caterpillar moth. A hit – Orgyia antiqua!

I am amazed how easy it was to search. The traditional options are to refer a moth book or a dinosaur book and painstakingly go through the pictures and narrow down the options.  Even now I had to visit specific pages to read and verify what was apparent was indeed correct.  The other method is refer to Uncle Bob the dinosaur man or ask Mr. Tolling the coleopterist in ‘The Mystery of the Missing Man’, but then he was a beetle man not a moth man.

Some use of obvious descriptions could result in a better search and Google can still surprise you. A little bird tells me that it is humming now…

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