Names of Dinosaurs
Names of Dinosaurs
Posted: 16th April 2008
Many people wonder how dinosaurs get their exotic names - so here's an explanation:
Plants and animals (including dinosaurs) are all scientifically classified and named according to a standard system of taxonomy. In this system, organisms are classified into hierarchical categories (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species), and individual "types" of animals, technically known as a "species" are identified by a two part name identifying both the species and the genus (this system is called "binomial nomenclature" or "binary nomenclature").
Some examples of names of dinosaur species include "Allosaurus fragilis", "Stegosaurus armatus" and "Tyrannosaurus rex". As you can probably see the first part of the name, the genus (which of course can contain several closely related species) are often more familiar to non-specialists. Most people with an interest in dinosaurs, including kids, for example know the name "Stegosaurus", even if they don't know the individual species within the genus.
The exotic sounding words that make up these names are chosen by the scientist who first discovers or describes the particular species (although their choice must be approved by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) before it becomes official. These names are usually based on ancient Latin or Greek words or phrases, for example, "Tyrannosaurus" means "tyrant lizard," "Rex" means "king", and thus the combination "Tyrannosaurus rex" means "tyrant lizard king".
It sometimes happens that scientists may discover examples of the same species, without realizing that they are in fact the same species, and thus choose two different names for the same animal. This can happen for many reasons including the fact that it takes time before research is published, the fact that scientists often have to work with partial skeletons, and the fact that juvenile animals may look very different from their adult form. Indeed, it's sometimes even happened that a single scientist has not recognized two of his own specimens of being of the same species, and thus given them different names! Probably the best known example of this situation occured in the 1870s. The great dinosaur hunter, Othniel C. Marsh, named a specimen found in 1877 as "Apatosaurus ajax", and another specimen found in 1879 as "Brontosaurus excelsus". However, it was only recognized years later (in 1903 by Elmer Riggs) that the former was a juvenile example of the latter. It is for this reason that today, the first chosen name, "Apatosaurus" is the official name of the genus, rather than "Brontosaurus".
Please feel free to comment on this page:
Linking to This Page
We do hope that you find this site useful. We welcome people linking to this website or citing us.
News by Topic:
Theories & Research
Science Project Downloads
Types of Dinosaurs
Note: Our company does NOT provide travel, vacation, hotel, car rental services or associated products or services. Any links (including but not limited to banners, text links, or search forms) to such items on this web site are adverts from third parties. Sorry we can NOT answer questions about these types of products or services.
All information about attractions, places of interest, travel destinations, travel services, etc., was believed to be correct at the time it was prepared, but may be change at any time. Readers are advised to check with their travel agent, travel provider, or the attraction operator, for current information.
Copyright © 2006-2018, Answers 2000 Limited
Disclosure: Our company's websites' content (including this website's content) includes advertisements for our own company's websites, products, and services, and for other organization's websites, products, and services. In the case of links to other organization's websites, our company may receive a payment, (1) if you purchase products or services, or (2) if you sign-up for third party offers, after following links from this website. Unless specifically otherwise stated, information about other organization's products and services, is based on information provided by that organization, the product/service vendor, and/or publicly available information - and should not be taken to mean that we have used the product/service in question. Additionally, our company's websites contain some adverts which we are paid to display, but whose content is not selected by us, such as Google AdSense ads. For more detailed information, please see Advertising/Endorsements Disclosures
All trademarks are property of their respective owners.
All third party content and adverts are copyright of their respective owners.