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Dinornis (was Re: "terrible bird"?)



>I'm not sure if it was Terry Colvin or Matt Wehman who was asking for
>the Latin for "terrible bird" (or why this information was wanted).
>The Latin word for bird is, of course, avis.  "Terrible" can be
>translated by terribilis, horribilis, dirus, immanis, or several other
>words.  There may be a Latin account somewhere of Hercules and the
>Stymphalian birds which even calls them "terrible birds."  The Latin
>for lizard, meanwhile, is lacerta (which is where the English word
>ultimately comes from).  Anyway, "dinosaur" is from Greek, not Latin,
>and the "deinos" part doesn't really mean "terrible" (as someone
>may have pointed out recently on this list) but rather "mighty" or
>"powerful."  (The related Greek word "deinotes" means either
>"terribleness" or "cleverness"...considering how quickly the
>Velociraptors figured out door handles in JP, maybe we should call
>them "clever lizards"...)
>
>Or was the question about a bird that tastes terrible?

Owen used "deinos" in Dinosauria as 'fearfully great' (i.e., scary because
they were big).

HOWEVER, he also used "deinos" as 'terrible' in the name Dinornis (thus,
'terrible bird'), one of the genera of moas.

And if you want to know any moa about that subject, you will likely be
subjected to a series of moa jokes.

[CLC is probably cringing at this:  she knows how bad moa jokes can get!]

                                
                 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.                  Phone: 703-648-5280      
                 Vertebrate Paleontologist         Fax:    703-648-5420
tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov ------------>       th81@umail.umd.edu
U.S. Geological Survey          ------------->       University of Maryland
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy ---->       Department of Geology
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092               ------------->        College Park, MD  20742
                                                          U.S.A.