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Altricial

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Altricial

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:20 pm

• altricial •


Pronunciation: æl-trish-êl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Helpless at birth, initially requiring the care and feeding by parents. Humans constitute an altricial species. Atricial animals born in nests are nidicolous as opposed to nidifugous.

Notes: Precocious is the antonym of today's word, referring to the young of animals and birds that are active immediately after birth, such as antelopes and alligators. Precocious also refers to children who mentally or physically mature early. Every animal in the typical barnyard is precocious, leading to the interesting observation that no altricial bird or animal has ever been domesticated. (If you have an idea why this might be the case, share it with us today in the Alpha Agora.)

In Play: Today's word comes from biology, but is employed over a wide range of topics. "Carlita's marketing idea was altricial when she suggested it and, for lack of nurturing by her coworkers, it never made it to the boss's desk." Use it around the house, too: "At the age of 38, you're no longer an altricial hatchling, Ferdy. Do your own laundry!"

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin altrix, the feminine of altor "nourisher" from alere "to nourish". The Proto-Indo-European root of today's word is al- "to grow, nourish". This same root came to be old, elderly, and Elder in English. Of course your alma mater is your "nurturing mother". Finally, nurturing implies growth and growth implies height, so we find it as the first component in the Latin borrowings based on altus "high, tall": altimeter and altitude. (Thank you, and a tip of alphaDictionary's lexiscope to Abraham Sukumar of Chennai, India, for nourishing our minds with today's Good Word.)
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Re: Altricial

Postby MTC » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:33 am

See comments on yesterday's word, "nidicolous."
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Re: Altricial

Postby ContraLingual » Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:47 am

The only domesticated altricial animal I am aware of is also the only domesticated primate -- man.

I've seen research which suggests the changes humans made to develop our communication skills are very similar to the changes from domestication of other species. One researcher has proposed that humans and dogs domesticated each other.
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Re: Altricial

Postby William Hupy » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:17 am

After watching a program wherein wild goslings bonded with a French family, I can only surmise that altricial animals needing to spend so much time with a parent become bonded to their own kind and are unable to become domesticated. Precocious animals, on the other hand, easily attach to any figure who happens to nourish them.
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Re: Altricial

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:35 pm

entirely too cerebral for daily repartee.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Altricial

Postby IntermezzoISR » Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:48 pm

Hello? Dogs and cats are both altricial.
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Re: Altricial

Postby stantigen » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:13 pm

Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs (national snack in Peru, inherited from Incas culture) - all are altricial animals...
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Re: Altricial

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:47 pm

Welcome stantigen and ContraLingual! We like newcomers around here!

I was also thinking about cats and dogs which seem to me to be able to be domesticated, at least as much as humans.
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Re: Altricial

Postby Slava » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:14 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Welcome stantigen and ContraLingual! We like newcomers around here!

Oops! Y'all missed IntermezzoISR. It would appear this is a hot topic, given that we have three, count 'em, three, new posting members! Let's hope they prove to be nidifugous and allow their thoughts and comments to leave this nest and fly freely across the rest of the Agora. :D

Have at it, and Welcome All.
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Re: Altricial

Postby MTC » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:54 pm

Birds, altrical and precocial, nidifugous and nidicolous, rare and strange, you'll find 'em all here on the Goodword site. Welcome, newcomers stantigen, ContraLingual, and IntermezzoISR! :D
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Re: Altricial

Postby annielaurie98524 » Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:45 am

The statement that no altricial animal has ever been domesticated appears inaccurate. Dogs, rabbits and cats are some domestic examples that immediately come to mind (hence the phrase, “helpless as a kitten”). The infants of these three species are born blind, nearly deaf and with sparse hair. They survive only by nursing their mother, or being nursed by a mother substitute if orphaned
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Re: Altricial

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:57 pm

I meant to imply by the preceding sentence "barnyard" animals. I have added that words to the archive for clarity.

I was alerted to the fact that in some South American countries hamsters are eaten. I doubt that they are raised in barnyards, though.
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Re: Altricial

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:23 pm

My wife maintains that as a child in Kentucky she had a cow that thought she was a dog and repeatedly wandered onto the front porch.

Welcome annielaurie! That makes four new ones on this particular post. You are most welcome, and we remember that we were all new at one time and made our first post or two. I hope all four get addicted as a dozen or two of us have.
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