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Etymology



On 96-03-13 09:09:59 EST, pwillis@ozemail.com.au (Paul Willis) wrote:

> Ok, here are the etomology of some dinosaur names. Can any one tell
> me why these names were used?

> Allosaurus,"Other Lizard", (Other than what?)

"Strange lizard" might be a better transliteration. The name refers to the
vertebrae, which Marsh thought differed from those of other dinosaurs in not
being pneumatic, merely deeply excavated along the sides. Unfortunately,
better _Allosaurus_ specimens do show typical theropod pneumatization, so the
name is a bit of a misnomer.

> Plateosaurus, "flat Lizard", (A road-kill perhaps?)

"Broad lizard" might be better here. This probably refers to the stout hind
limbs and general large size of the skeleton, which the author (von Meyer)
cites several times in his article. It has nothing to do with the plate-like
pubis, etc., which were absent from the original specimen.

> Dryosaurus, "Oak Lizard", (A possible animal-vegetable combination?)

Not just oak, but any tree. Marsh's idea was that _Dryosaurus_ lived in a
forested environment where it could browse leafy vegetation.

> Apatosaurus, "Deceptive LIzard" (In hindsight, a useful name, but
> why did it get it in the first place?)

In Marsh's original article, he implies that he at first mistook the tail
vertebrae for those of a mosasaur. This is doubtless the source of the
"deceptive" part of the name.