I watched an animated movie about a horse called Spirit a few years ago. The children watching with me were enthralled with the story, and I was pleased because I’d been a horse person all my life. Then the whole experience came crashing down. The animators depicted the little foal trotting to a stream, bending his head down, and lapping water like a dog. The children were young enough to forgive this transgression, but I was surprised that the filmmakers had not done their homework. The project was first-rate in every other respect, but this error was hard to ignore. Every horse person who watched it would immediately cease suspension of disbelief. The point here is that horses do not lap water, they suck water. So do llamas. In general, carnivorous animals lap water, and herbivorous animals suck water. Writers who make assumptions in areas outside their expertise, and let those assumptions enter their work, are doing their readers and audiences a disservice, and giving what could otherwise be a prize-winning project a black eye. Whether it’s how animals drink water, or how to determine the age of a skeleton, do your research. When in doubt visit a research librarian at your local library. An intriguing question from a fiction writer could make her day. Or his.