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Re: In Nomine Dinosauri (...et avis, et oviraptoris :-) )

In a message dated Sat, 10 Mar 2001  6:04:01 PM Eastern Standard Time, "David 
Marjanovic" <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> writes:

Interestingly, most higher animal taxa are neutral, and I don't have any
idea why. For example, in the early 19th century, people did write
Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri, but all these have become -sauria, and I don't
know how.

My own guess is that these taxon names were originally construed as adjectives 
modifying "animalia" ("animals"), which is neuter and plural.

"[animalia] reptilia" ("crawling animals"); 
"[animalia] chordata" ("corded animals");
"[animalia] insecta" ("cut-into [segmented?] animals").

You may also have noticed that most higher plant taxon names are feminine 
plural (as if they modified "plantae" ["plants"]).

--Nick P.