N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
abdomen: The part of an insect's body that is behind the thorax.
abstract: A way of presenting something that differs from its realistic form, sometimes to express a feeling or idea.
amphibian: One of the class of animals that are cold-blooded and have no scales. Amphibians usually live in or near the water.
antennae: Two parts of the insect's body, attached to the head. Antennae are used for smelling, hearing, tasting, or feeling.
anthropology: The study of the culture and history of a group of people.
Arachnida: The class of invertebrates that includes spiders, scorpions, and ticks. Arachnids differ from insects in that they have only two body parts, instead of three; they have no antennae and no wings; and they have four pairs of legs, instead of three.
Aranidae: The family of arachnids that spin webs, such as spiders.
arboreal: Animals that spend most of their time in trees.
artifacts: Objects that give us information about another culture or time.
archaeology: The scientific study of past human lives and activities through material objects.
artisan: Someone trained in a particular skill or craft.
Aves: Birds; the class of animals that have wings and feathers, are warm-blooded, and lay eggs.
Aztec: A Nahuatl-speaking northern Mexican tribe that founded Tenochtitlan in the Valley of Mexico. During the 15th and 16th centuries, they ruled an empire that reached across central and southern Mexico. Also called the Mexica.
backstrap loom: A hand loom used for weaving cloth. One end of the loom is attached to a tree or post, the other is tied around the weaver's back.
bibliography: A list of books and other source materials about a particular subject or issue of interest.
borough: One of the five geographical parts into which New York City is divided.
caiman: An alligator-like animal that lives in South and Central America.
call number: Number assigned to a library book, indicating the proper location of that book on the library's shelves.
camelid: A camel-like animal with no hump. The llama, vicuna, guanaco, and the alpaca are all species of camelids.
Carnival: A celebration that takes place in mid-February, before Lent, in which people feast, hold parades, and dress in costume.
cartilage: A material that makes up part of the body of animals. Cartilage is not as hard as bone, and is more flexible. The human nose is made mostly of cartilage.
Castoridae: The family of animals that mark their territory with "castors," small piles of mud mixed with scent from the animals' castor glands. The beaver is a part of this family.
ceramic: An object made from a non-metallic mineral like clay and hardened by firing at a high temperature.
circa: A word used to define dates that are approximate: for example, "born circa 1900" is used in place of an exact date when more specific information is not available.
clapboards: Long narrow boards with one edge thicker than the other, overlapped to cover the outer walls of frame houses.
class: A group of people, animals or things that are similar in some way. Mammals are a class of vertebrates that have similar characteristics.
Coleoptera: The order made up of beetles. Coleoptera means "sheath wing;" beetles' front wings partially cover up their hindwings.
conquistador: A Spanish word meaning someone who conquers other people.
Cortes, Hernan: The man who who led the conquest of Mexico for the Spanish in 1519.
curator: Someone who is in charge of collecting, conserving, and interpreting objects for exhibit at a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibition.
Delftware: A kind of ceramic imported from Holland, made in the city of Delft.
Diptera: The order made up of flies. Diptera means "two-wings;" flies only use two wings to fly.
duality: The condition of one thing having two sides, parts, or faces.
emboss: To create raised surfaces on an object.
embroider: To decorate with needlework.
excavate: To dig something up.
facade: The decorative front side of a building
family: A group of animals or plants that are similar to one another in many ways.
feline: Relating to or resembling a cat
Formicidae: The family of ants; insects that produce formic acid, a chemical once used to make dye.
furnishings: Items used to decorate an interior space and make it comfortable, including furniture, tableware, linens, and decorative objects.
galleries: Rooms of a museum where artwork or artifacts are displayed.
genus: A group of animals or plants that are very similar, but cannot mate.
gills: Organs allowing a fish to get oxygen from water. A fish's gills are located on both sides of its body, near the front.
glyph: A symbolic figure or character, usually a picture, that gives information.
grist mill: A mill used for grinding grain.
guiro: A musical instrument made from a hollow piece of wood or gourd.
H-bents: A series of H-shaped structures, forming a framework that supports the walls of a Dutch farm house.
highlands: Land that is hilly or mountainous .
Hispanic: Things or people that come from Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.
Huastec: A civilization that lived in northern Mexico around the tenth century A.D.
Hymenoptera: The order made up of wasps, bees and ants. Hymenoptera means "membrane wing;" bees and wasps have very thin, membrane-like wings.
Inca: Pre-columbian civilization that became especially powerful in the 1400's A.D., in the area that is now Peru.
industrialism: The social and economic concept used to identify a society based on industry or technology versus one based on farming.
insect: An invertebrate animal with an exoskeleton made of three main parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Insects also have six legs, a pair of antennae and wings.
invertebrate: an animal that does not have a backbone.
kas: A large cupboard traditionally used in Dutch homes to hold linens and clothing.
kingdom: The most general classification group of living things. There are five kingdoms, into which all living things are divided: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Monera.
knee braces: Short, diagonal supports placed in the upper corners of a house's framework, to help hold up the roof.
Lepidoptera: The order made up of moths and butterflies. Lepidoptera means "scale-wing;" their wings are covered in overlapping scales.
Lienzo (pronounced "lee-en-zo"): A large sheet of woven cloth that combines information about families, places, and history on a single surface.
lodge: The home of beavers, built from large piles of sticks.
mammal: One of the class of animals that are warm-blooded and (in most cases) have fur or hair on their bodies. Female mammals feed their babies with milk they produce from glands in their bodies.
mandibles: The jaws of some animals. This term usually refers to the jaws of insects.
mano: Part of a tool used for grinding corn and other grains. It is rolled across the metate to grind the grain.
mantle: A rectangular piece of cloth used to cover or wrap the body. The ancient Paracas of Peru wrapped their dead in mantles called mummy bundlesand then buried them.
mariachis: Wandering musicians in the villages and towns of Latin America.
marimba: A musical instrument, similar to a xylophone, that is often played in Latin American music.
maritime: Having to do with sailing and the sea.
marsh: An area of low, wet ground, usually with reeds and grasses growing in it.
Maya (pronounced, "My-a"): A Mesoamerican civilization that reached from southern Mexico, through Guatemala, and into Belize. The Maya kingdom emerged around 1000 B.C. and lasted until around 1200 A.D.
Mesoamerica: A geographical and cultural region that at the time of the Spanish conquest included much of what is now southern Mexico and Central America.
metate: The lower part of a tool used for grinding corn and other grains. The grain sits on the metate, and is ground by the mano rolling over it.
mimic: A person or animal that imitates another; or an animal that closely resembles another, usually poisonous, animal. Predators stay away from mimics, thinking they are the poisonous animals they look like.
Mimidae: A family of birds native to North and South America, that can imitate the songs of other birds.
Mixtec (pronounced "Mish-tek") : An Indian tribe native to the part of Mexico that is now the state of Oaxaca.
mola: A textile made by sewing layers of colored cloth together to form patterns.
Montezuma (sometimes speled "Moctezuma"): The ninth and last Aztec emperor (1466-1520) who was crowned in 1502, becoming the leader of an empire which included much of present-day Mexico and Central America. Montezuma died while he was imprisoned by the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes, whose troops had reached Mexico in 1519.
mummy bundle: The tightly-wrapped layers of cloth in which the ancient people of Paracas buried their dead. The tight wrapping and dry sands of the region prevented the bodies from decaying and they became mummies. The cloths used for this are sometimes calledmantles.
mural: A very large painting, usually painted on a wall.
Nasca: Pre-Incan Peruvian culture that flourished between 200 B.C. and 400 A.D.
Naturalistic: A realistic representation based on observation.
Nahuatl: An ancient language centered in the Valley of Mexico. The language of the Aztec at the time of the Spanish conquest. It became the common language of Mesoamerica and is still spoken today.
necropolis: A cemetery or other place where many bodies are buried in an elaborate fashion. The word comes from two Greek words: necro ("dead") + polis ("city").
New World: A European name for North, Central and South America. After Europeans learned of the New World, they began calling Europe, Africa, and Asia the Old World.
nogging: Brick material filled into the walls of a wood-framed house, to keep the house warm.
oculate: Relating to the the eye.
orb weavers: Spiders that spin round, wagon-wheel-shaped webs.
order: A group of animals or plants that have a few things in common.
Orthoptera: The order made up of grasshoppers and crickets. Orthoptera means "straight-wing."
Osteichthyes: The class of bony fish; animals that are cold-blooded, live in water, and have gills that they breathe through.
Paracas: A civilization that flourished on the South Coast of Peru from about 700 B.C. to 200 A.D.
Phasmida: The order made up of stick and leaf insects. Phasmid means "illusion;" these insects camouflage themselves among plants.
phylum: The second most general classification group of living things.
polychrome: Having many colors.
predators: Animals that kill other animals for food.
prey: Animals that are killed and eaten by other animals.
pre-Columbian: Of the period in the history of the Americas before Columbus arrived in 1492 A.D.
Proboscidea: The order of animals that are large, with long, trunk-like noses, flat-soled feet, and long leg bones.
quetzal: A Latin American bird with a long, feathered tail.
Quetzalcoatl: An Aztec god, represented by a feathered serpent.
rafters: Beams that form the framework of a roof.
reptile: One of the class of animals that are cold-blooded and covered with scales. Most reptiles lay eggs.
rootlet: A small root; the part of a plant that grows down into the ground to absorb water and minerals, as well as to hold the plant in the ground.
ruins: The remains of something that has become partly or mostly destroyed.
shingle: A thin, oblong piece of material such as wood that is laid in overlapping rows to cover the roofs and sides of houses.
slip: A mixture of clay and water used to paint the surface of ceramic objects.
snipe: A type of shore bird.
solitary: Living or being alone.
species: A group of animals and plants that have many things in common, and are different in at least one other way from all others.
stela: An upright inscribed slab or pillar serving as a monument or grave marker.
sternum: The breastbone of an animal.
structure: The way in which the parts of a thing are arranged or put together to form the whole.
stylet: A long, thin, hollow, needle-like formation.
supernatural: Something that cannot be explained by the laws of nature; for example, gods and ghosts.
suspension bridge: A bridge held up by steel cables that are suspended from towers and anchored on both ends.
Tenochtitlan: The capital of the Aztec empire, conquered by Cortes. Mexico City now stands on the previous site of Tenochtitlan.
textile: Cloth made by weaving.
thorax: The part of an insect between the head and the abdomen; this includes the wings and the legs.
tortilla: A flat, round type of bread made from flour or cornmeal.
tract: An area of land.
tribute: Something done or created to show thanks or respect
vertebrate: An animal that has a backbone.
Vespidae: A family of wasps. Wasps in this family usually fold their wings lengthwise when they are at rest. "Vespid" means wasp in Latin.
zoology: The study of animals.