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To: dinosaur@usc.edu
From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org

Here's what I posted about the name Oplosaurus on 
Dinosauria On-line:
Oplosaurus Gervais 1852 "armored lizard" 
(for Gr. hoplon "weapon, shield" + Gr. sauros "lizard") 
(m) The name is probably based on Mantell's earlier 
speculation that the then-unnamed tooth might belong to a 
Hylaeosaurus-type armored dinosaur; the tooth belongs to a 
sauropod. [= ?Pelorosaurus] 

Greek hoplon could mean a tool or a weapon. It also had 
the more limited sense of a large shield. In scientific 
nomenclature, hoplo- or oplo- is usually used to 
mean "armor" or "weapon": Euoplocephalus,  
Hoplosuchus, etc.

Sorry--this word has NOTHING to do with "dweller." Greek 
hoplites means "heavy-armed" or "heavily armed" and was 
used as a substantive to mean a heavy-armed soldier--thus 
its use in vertebrae paleontology for heavily armored 
animals: Hoplitosaurus,  Sauroplites, etc.

A note about dropping the "h" in Greek words--the sound 
was indicated in Greek spelling by using an aspiration 
mark in front of a vowel rather than by using an actual 
written letter as in Latin. When the aspiration mark is 
latinized it should become the letter "h." Note, however, 
that when Greek words are combined, the "h" should drop 
internally (thus Greek euoplos "well-armored" rather than 
euhoplos) or should be assimilated to certain consonants 
so that t became th, p became ph, etc. (ephoplizo "arm 
against" from epi "against" + hoplizo "to arm"--I'll spare 
the details for now). The upshot of all this is that Greek 
lexicons DON'T have words listed under a letter "H"--
instead, they appear under the first vowel. Greek hoplon 
appears under "o" (omicron), hydros ("water") under "y," 

Dropping the initial Greek  "h" in scientific names is not 
uncommon in scientific names, but can be a bit confusing. 
I am continually astonished at the misreadings of the name 
Elosaurus, proposed by Peterson and Gilmore for a juvenile 
Apatosaurus, assumed to be a tiny type of adult sauropod.  
The name clearly derives from Greek helos "marsh" as in 
Elotherium "marsh beast, " another name for giant pig-like 
Entelodon.  Elosaurus means "marsh lizard" and is a pun on 
O.C. Marsh's name--the specimen was found next to an adult 
skeleton of Marsh's "Brontosaurus," then assumed to be a 
swamp-dwelling dinosaur.  Here's my entry from Dinosauria 
Elosaurus Peterson & Gilmore 1902 "marsh lizard" 
EL-o-SAWR-us ( for Gr. helos "marsh" (often spelled elo- 
in zoological and botanical names) + Gr. sauros "lizard") 
(m) a pun on the supposed "marshy" lifestyle of sauropods 
and O.C. Marsh's name: the small specimen was found next 
to a skeleton of Marsh's famous "Brontosaurus." [= 
Apatosaurus (juvenile)]