From Max Vasilatos on Facebook, this sentence from the Wikipedia entry on laterality:
Some types of mastodon indicate laterality through the fossil remains having differing tusk lengths.
Max sent this to me not for its tortured syntax (though that’s interesting in itself) or for the technical term laterality ‘sidedness’ (a bit on that below), but because of my interest in mammuthiana (though that’s not the point of this posting).
The Wikipedia entry begins:
Laterality is the preference that most humans show for one side of their body over the other. Examples include left-handedness or left-footedness. It may also apply to other animals, or to plants.
We start with left- and right-handedness and generalize from there, ultimately to overall left- and right-sidedness, not just for hand preference. The natural further generalization would be to sidedness, and that certainly occurs, for example in this website about
Neuroscience for kids – Sidedness
Educational website about laterality. Includes tests for handedness, footedness, eyedness, and earedness.
But here we see a shift from the formation sidedness, using native English components, to the technical term laterality, using Latin-derived components. On other occasions, I’ve noted this preference in technical contexts for using terms derived from Latin and/or Greek, even when native-English counterparts are available.
(In this case, sidedness has an ambiguity that laterality lacks; it can refer to the number or kind of sides — as in three-sided or flat-sided. But this is only a potential ambiguity; in context, the sense of sidedness will be clear.)