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Re: Albertaceratops (simpson's bi-annual b*tch about dino naming)

Quoting Tim Williams <twilliams_alpha@hotmail.com>:

Nick Pharris wrote:

No, the final -us (Greek -os) or -a refers to the sex of the lizard, not of the honoree (actually, I'm not sure it even has to do with the sex of the lizard; my dictionary appears to indicate that _sauros_ and _saura_ are just alternative words for 'lizard').

Yet, certain names do end in -saura because the honoree is female. Such as _Gasparinisaura_ (after Zulma Gasparini), _Leallynasaura_ (after Leaellyn Rich), and _Maiasaura_, (after 'maia', Gk for 'good mother'). _Bonitasaura_ derives its name from the "La Bonita" fossil site, the name of which is feminine in gender.

All true, but that's just being cute. There's no particular reason for these to have _saura_, and they would be equally correct etymologically with _saurus_.

The same rationale was behind the name _Aviatyrannis_ (Avia = grandmother), in which -tyrannis was chosen instead of -tyrannus.

Yeah, I've never understood that one. In Greek, _tyrannis_ is feminine, but it's an abstract noun meaning 'sovereignty, despotic power'.

In Latin, it's the dative (or ablative) plural form of the noun _tyrannus_. The phrase _avia tyrannis_ would mean 'a grandmother for tyrants'; that's how I've always rationalized it.

Maybe someone out there with better Latin and Greek dictionaries than I have can tell whether the usage of _tyrannis_ as a feminine form of _tyrannus_ is actually attested in either language.

However, many ceratopsian names end in -ceratops even though the honoree is feminine (e.g., _Avaceratops_, _Auroraceratops_, and even "Medusaceratops"). I had though "ceratops" was masculine.

_Ceratops_ would have the same form for masculine and feminine.

Nick Pharris
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan

"Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity."
    --Edwin H. Land