dinosaur names

Dinosaur Names

Curiosities

Dinosaur names follow the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature which is a set of rules that govern all scientific names for living or extinct organisms. The code requires that a scientific name be composed of two parts. The first part, called the genus, is always capitalized; the second, called the specific epithet, is never capitalized. Both names are always italicized, and sometimes the genus name is abbreviated (as in T. rex for Tyrannosaurus rex). The genus name may be used alone to refer to all the species in a particular genus.

See video below to hear Museum paleontologists explain the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.

Dinosaur Names and Their Meanings

Dinosaur names are often made up of combinations of Greek and Latin root words that describe anatomical characteristics or how the animal might have behaved. Other dinosaur names might honor a person or denote where the fossil remains were discovered. In 1841, Richard Owen, the first director of London’s Natural History Museum, gave the name dinosaurs to these giant prehistoric reptiles. The word dinosaur is from the Greek deinos (terrible) and sauros (lizard). Some dinosaur names are short and others are tongue twisters.

COMMON ROOTS FOUND IN DINOSAUR NAMES 
WordMeaning
allostrange
apatodeceptive
brontothunder
cerathorned
compsopretty
deinos, dinoterrible
echinospiked
elasmoplated
megahuge
microsmall
nodolumpy
opsface
ornithobird
raptorrobber
rexking
saur, sauruslizard
stegoroof
trithree
tyrannotyrant

Till now over 700 different species of dinosaurs have been identified and named. However paleontologists believe that there are many more new and different dinosaur species still to be discovered.

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Source: American Museum of Natural History & THE DINOSAUR MUSEUM

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