I Strongly Dislike Paleontologists (#2 in the Bastards series)

Complex dino names
Roll off his tongue like ice cream
While I stammer, lost…


I am mother to the most adorable, sweet, kiss-filled 5-year-old boy in the entire universe. Yes, he is just like your 5-year-old boy, just a wee bit better. (I must confess that last week he showed his boy parts to the entire playground on a dare, so he is way more normal than my first sentence might lead you to believe. For those of you who don’t believe this is normal boy behavior, you are either parents to only girls or not familiar with my son’s father, whose history includes chasing his cousins and sister around, boy parts in hand, threatening to pee on them… last week when he was a kid… so, you get the picture. Apple, tree, blah blah blah.)

Back to my son.  AB is completely enamored with all things dinosaur. Right now, he is watching one of the 7,000 Netflix series on dinosaurs – Walking with Dinosaurs, Eating with Dinosaurs, Stalking Smaller Prey with Dinosaurs – Reptile edition, and so on.  These all include very realistic, computer generated dinosaurs that simply walk around looking for things to chomp on. Oh joy.

This fascination with dinosaurs started ages ago, and for some reason I have yet to recall, I purchased an enormous book about dinosaurs entitled The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles, “a comprehensive look at the world of dinosaurs with more than 250 superb illustrations,” by Chris McNab.

Complete Guide To Dinosaurs

image from Amazon.com. Look at the cool green guy with the enormous claws - he's my favorite!

Let me start by saying this is actually a very, very good book. It is readable (although given its size, not very handle-able). AB understands the concepts it presents about how life began, evolution, and the theories about why the dinosaurs all died. (When I say “understand” I mean he doesn’t pester the crap out of me with questions.) Having read it through now, or at least looked at the pictures and names and details of all the dinosaurs, many, many times, I can say that it is still interesting and I notice new things each time.  This isn’t my issue.

My issue is with the paleontologists – the SOBs who named these beasts. What in the hell were they thinking? Is there some secret pact they all take whereby they promise to name the things the most ludicrous, hard to pronounce, obtuse selection of letters possible?  Let me illustrate:

Ericiolacerta (eric-ee-oh-LA-cherta). First off, where is the “saurus” in this name? Rule #1 – all dinoSAURS need to have a SAURUS in their name, right? (I’ll allow for -ceratops as well since those are pretty cool.)

Coelurosauravus (SEEL-oh-ro-SAWR-ah-vus) Coel = SEEL? Then spell is that way, why don’t you.

Planocephalosaurus (PLAN-oh-KEF-al-oh-SAW-rus) I kid you not, his name is longer than his body if the pictures are to be believed.  Rule #2:  the name has to be shorter than the body. And it must not exceed 5 syllables (Rule #3).

Eurhinosaurus (YOOR-i-no-SAW-rus).  Again, eurhi is not a combination of letters found in the real world. If you must resort to dead languages to put together a decent name, then you are working too hard and need to stop.

Dromiceiomimus (droh-MEE-see-oh-MEEM-us).  Too many vowels. Rule #4 – a limit on the number of sequential vowels.

Saurornithoides (saw-ROR-ni-THOI-deez). This is just a freakishly hard name for me to pronounce. Mr. Paleontologist, do you understand that each time my son asks me to read this I stutter through this word like I’m concurrently having a stroke, until I give up and turn the page? It’s embarrassing.

Opisthocoelicaudia (oh-PIS-tho-SEEL-i-CAWD-ee-a).  Too many syllables and again, where is the “saurus”?  Rule #1 and 3 opis-ed away.

Leaellynasaura (LEE-el-in-a-SAW-ra). No comment. They hate me.

Psittakosaurus (si-TAK-oh-SAW-rus)  Rule number 5: no silent letters. Period. If you cared enough to name it something, say it all out loud.

Tuojiangosaurus (toh-HWANG-oh-SAW-rus).  This one makes me giggle, at least the pronunciation guide does. It sounds like something Bevis and Butthead would snicker about, or drunk men would take to mean something else:  “Did you see me toh-HWANG-oh-SAW-rus that blonde? She won’t soon forget me!”

Related, I’d like to commend the following, for these people used naming conventions that I fully support:  let your kid name it, name it after where you found it, name it after your job or yourself and make it pronounce-able.


Albertosaurus – Albert Smith found a saurus. When he did, he said “oh”. Well done.

Rhabdodon – Rabbi Don Issac found this specimen in the limestone near his Temple, many years ago.

Bactrosaurus – Not many people know that Alexander Flemming not only discovered penicillin but was also an amateur paleontologist, digging in the fields near his home in his spare time.

Lambeosaurus –  Jessica von Meyer, a well know Canadian paleontologist, allowed her toddler Mary, a fan of nursery rhymes, to name the last dinosaur she ever found. Bravo.

Silvisaurus – Silvia Readdy, an English women who lived on a large manor near the coast, dug this up in her garden and took the easy route to naming it.

Montanoceratops – Jeffrey Millery, a rancher in – you guessed it – Montana, thought one of his bulls had died. He was wrong, but he got to name a dinosaur instead. Easy. Done.


None of these violate any of the rules, except for the syllable count in Montanoceratops, but given its easy naming convention, I’ll give it a pass.

So a word to you paleontologists out there.  I’m begging you, please, the next time you dig something up, call it Bob. Or just number it – Dino #493. I know it seems boring, but the whole “name it such a complicated thing and prove my prowess as a bad-ass digger” is just so last century.

I would be forever grateful.

PS: Alas, I must admit, everything between the two *’s, other than the actual dino names, is completely made up.

%d bloggers like this: