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Lizard Lexicon

By Debra Dobbins

Leapin’ lizards! In the story below scientists say they have discovered fossils of two new dinosaur species in southern Utah. That’s exciting news for fans of terrible lizards (dino means terrible and saur means lizard).

By studying dinosaurs, we actually learn a great deal about the English language, because many dinosaur names come from Latin word parts.

As I looked over the information in typesofdinosaurs.com, I learned there are dinosaur names with the ending root “saur” for every letter of the alphabet. Though I can’t list them all, here are a few from that website:

allosaurus – other lizard
acrocanthsaurus – high spine lizard
aeolosaurus - wind lizard
argyrosaurus – silver lizard
barosaurus – heavy lizard
corythosaurus - helmet lizard
dryosaurus – oak lizard
enigmosaurus - mysterious lizard
gasosaurus - gas lizard
halticosaurus - leaping lizard
kritosaurus - noble lizard
nanosaurus - dwarf lizard
ouranosaurus - valiant lizard
plateosaurus - flat lizard
supersaurus - super lizard
sarcosaurus – flesh lizard
tyrannosaurus - tyrant lizard
xenotarsosaurus - strange-ankle lizard
zephyrosaurus - west wind lizard

The names of Kosmoceratops richardsoni and the Utahceratops gettyi, the two types of dinosaurs recently discovered in Utah, can be broken down, too.

In the first word, Kosmos comes from a Greek word for world or universe. Ceratops is also Greek, meaning horned face. The second word, richardsoni, stems from a proper noun. In a blog entry posted at news.blogs.cnn.com, CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg notes that the word honors “Scott Richardson, a volunteer who discovered the holotype specimen and many other fossils within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”

To explain the second dinosaur, Gringberg writes, “The bigger of the two new dinosaurs, with a skull about 7 feet long, is Utahceratops gettyi, whose name combines the state of origin with ceratops, Greek for ‘horned face.’ The second part of the name honors Mike Getty, paleontology collections manager at the Utah Museum of Natural History and the discoverer of this animal.”

Tear into the story below for more details on these terrible lizards.

2 dinosaur species discovered in Utah


SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists said Wednesday they’ve discovered fossils in the southern Utah desert of two new dinosaur species closely related to the Triceratops, including one with 15 horns on its large head.

The discovery of the new plant-eating species — including Kosmoceratops richardsoni, considered the most ornateheaded dinosaur known to man — was reported Wednesday in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE, produced by the Public Library of Science.

The other dinosaur, which has five horns and is the larger of the two, was dubbed Utahceratops gettyi. “It’s not every day that you find two rhino-sized dinosaurs that are different from all the other dinosaurs found in North America,” said Mark Loewen, a Utah Museum of Natural History paleontologist and an author of the paper published in PLoS ONE.

“You would think that we know everything there is to know about the dinosaurs of western North America, but every year we’re finding new things, especially here in Utah,” he said.

The Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument has been a hotbed for dinosaur species discoveries in the past decade, with more than a dozen new species discovered. While it is a rocky, arid place now, millions of years ago it was similar to a swamp.

THIS IMAGE PROVIDED by the Utah Museum of Natural History shows an artist’s reconstruction of the recently discovered Utahceratops.


The Utahceratops has a large horn over the nose and short eye horns that project to the side rather than upward, similar to a bison. Its skull is about 7 feet long, it stood about 6 feet high and was 18 to 22 feet long.

It is believed to have weighed about 3 to 4 tons.

The Kosmoceratops has similar facial features at the Utahceratops, but has 10 horns across the rear margin of its bony frill that point downward and outward. It weighed about 2.5 tons and was about 15 feet long.

The horns on both animals range in length from about 6 inches to 1 foot.

Paleontologists say the discovery shows that horned dinosaurs living on the same continent 76 million years ago evolved differently.

Scientists say that other horned dinosaurs lived on the same ancient continent known as Laramidia in what is now Alberta, Canada.

The numerous horns are believed to have been used to attract mates and intimidate sexual competitors, similar to horns on deer.

“The horns really are probably developed at puberty, because most likely these are signals for mate recognition, competition between males, things like that,” Loewen said.

“They’re sexual signals and really that’s how we think this group of dinosaurs divided,” he added.


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