STL Science Center

STL Science Center

10 February 2012

Masiakasaurus, Spell Slowly!

Described in 2001 by Scott Sampson, Matthew Carrano, and Catherine Forster, this is Masiakasaurus. In Malagasy it means "Vicious Lizard" but looking at it from an English language standpoint it appears to be a conundrum of the spelling world. Masiakasaurus knopfleri, named after the guitarist from Dire Straits because that was the band the team was listening to at the time of discovery, if there's a thought that that is most ludicrous reason for naming an animal something I am willing to bet you just haven't searched hard enough quite yet because there are a ton of absolutely silly names out there. Masiakasaurus, aside from being impossible to pronounce correctly the first time, was, itself, a highly improbable animal. The teeth of this dinosaur were amazing. Much smaller than its far to the north cousins the spinosaurs, Masiakasaurus had a mouth that was arranged much like the spinosaurs' mouths, then drastically overdone and taken beyond over the edge. The first known fossils of the dentary area, the lower jaw, possess teeth that come pretty much straight out of the front of the mouth and barely, if at all, close together with the top jaw's front teeth that are jutting out of the mouth. It's quite the snare for small animals, as I am sure we will see in the upcoming week!

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