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Re: Lizard of Oz

James Sutton (Wiwaxia) wrote:


  Cool name. Believe it or not, Oz is a fantastical place, and
Australia is no exception. That name fits _de facto_. The names
themselves are fantastical, and from Australia we've gotten what
appears to me the ignition of the present trend in "cool" names.

  *Kakuru* -- *Minmi* -- *Muttaburrasaurus* -- *Rapator*

  The names rolls off the tongue, and that's great from down under.
*Ozraptor* rolls off the tongue, as does many other -raptor taxa. The
popularity of the name can be as exciting as the animal itself. Now,
what do we know about *Ozraptor*? Almost nil. Who knows if the name
doesn't fit? Let's wait for a more complete specimen, then decide the
name's descriptive adequacy---but the name won't change.

<Or the frivolousness of "Heerz lukinatcha" and the like.>

  It was about a year ago a thread on the list was run of really
wierd, "frivolous" names. They are as fantastical as *Ozraptor*. The
spider and butterfly taxa vary so much yet are so similar that if the
genus is purple, and a new one comes along, but the name must
perfectly describe the animal in question, how are you going to do it?
How do you say "purple swallow-tail butterfly" in Greek, or Latin?
Pick a language. Mammal taxa in Mongolia are being named in Mongolian,
and they're just as cool as "*Kakuru*".

<Utahraptor is one with which I have particular problems. What is at
all descriptive about this name?>

  The Plunderer of Utah. Makes sense. In the EK's Cloverly, Utah was
still Utah.

<What does it conjure up in the imagination about the creature itself?
 Did it live in a desert (Utah usually brings to mind Southern Utah
which is mostly desert)? Did it live in the mountains (Northern Utah)?
When Utahraptor was alive, Utah was not like it is now and yet the
name brings forth the image.>

  Southern Utah is beautiful, full of plains and valleys of
wind-carved stone. Rivers all around Utah, as well as forests,
snow-capped mountains, the country's second-biggest lake, and the
Bonneville Salt Flats. Incredible variety. It's this northern bit that
*Utahraptor's* habitat more resembled, with a bit more forest, a bit
less mountains.

<I think it should be avoided in favour of something structural about
the creature and, preferably, diagnostic.>

  The diagnosis is in the diagnosis. The name could, and often does,
describe the animal. But again, it doesn't have to. Names, places, can
often reflect the animal in question.

  *Corythosaurus casuarius* means "cassowary-helmeted lizard", but
corytho- also applies to Corinth, where Greek soldiers wore helmets
that resemble the cassowary's crest. So, corytho- means "helmet" and
"Corinthian" and even "Corinthian-helmet", so the name of the dinosaur
can be a tongueful to translate, as well as a syntax nightmare. How do
you say all that at once?

  You can also be simple. *Minmi* -- *Kakuru* -- *Utahraptor* --
*Rapator* -- *Ozraptor*.

  Jaime A. Headden

  "Corynthian-helmeted cassowary lizard"?
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