Find out how the dinosaurs were named – 03/11/2023 – O Curioso

Last Tuesday (7) paleontologists (scientists who study animals from the past) celebrated their day. Dinosaur names sound strange, but each of these ancient reptiles has a good reason for being named the way they were.

It could be a physical feature, a reference to the person who discovered it or researched its fossils, and even the place where it was found.

Every time a species of dinosaur is discovered, it is given what we call a scientific name, which is also given to plants and animals.

In the past, paleontologists used mandatory languages ​​such as Latin or Greek for baptism. Tyrannosaurus rex, for example, means “tyrant king lizard”. Its name is a mixture of Latin and Greek. “Tyrannus” comes from the Greek leader, lord, boss. “Saurus” is also Greek for lizard. Finally, “rex” is Latin for king.

Nowadays, indigenous languages ​​are also used in the case of dinosaurs that inhabited Brazilian territory.

Before we start, what does the word “dinosaur” mean?

The name was created in 1841 by the English biologist Richard Owen. He joined the Greek terms “deinos”, which means terrifying, and “saurus”, as I explained above, lizard. Dinosaur therefore means terrifying lizard.

Do you have any example of one of these baptisms done in Brazil?

In 2004, the fossil of a prehistoric crocodile was named after the town and paleontologist who discovered it: Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi.

Professor Antônio Celso de Arruda Campos, from Monte Alto, in the interior of São Paulo, was one of the greatest scholars of paleontology in the country. In the beginning, he formed a team made up of only civil servants, all improvised, to excavate different areas of the municipality, 356 kilometers from the capital. He kept the finds at home.

He passed away in 2015, aged 80. The Monte Alto paleontology museum is named after him.

What is this “suchus” that appears next to the name of the city of Monte Alto?

Suchus is Latin for crocodile. So the name means “Monte Alto crocodile”.

If his surname is “Arruda Campos”, why did the crocodile get the name “Arruda Campoyes“?

When the animal’s scientific name, past or present, is honoring someone, it gets that letter “i” at the end. It’s a Latin rule.

But if I find a new species of prehistoric animal, do I have to put my name on it or can I honor someone else?

There’s another curious story that I think you’ll like. A dinosaur discovered in Ibirá, which is 418 kilometers from São Paulo, was named thanos simonattoi. Thanos because of the Marvel villain, plus simonatto, which is the last name of the farmer who found the first piece of the fossil, in 1995, also with the letter “i”.

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