STL Science Center

STL Science Center

12 July 2013

Dinosaurs that Start with the Letter Z

©Mariana Ruiz Villareal
Two species of dinosaur, one originally in the genus Mochlodon, belong in a Z genus. Those dinosaurs are Zalmoxes robustus and Zalmoxes shqiperorum (do not ask me how to pronounce that please). The generic name comes from the Dacian city of Zalmoxis. For my human history deficient friends, Dacia was a region in the Carpathian mountains, now part of quite a few countries including Romania and the Ukraine, between the Tisa and Danube rivers inhabited by a people called the Dacians by the Romans who practiced a religion called Zamolxism, which got its name from Zalmoxis the chief god of the religion who had a city named after him. Essentially, then, the name Zalmoxes, is a tribute to a Dacian city and god. The specific epithets, Z. robustus and Z. shqiperorum, carry the meanings "robust" as in the robust build of the skeleton and the Albanian word for Albania (Shqiperia) respectively. The dinosaurs we are looking at are small, squat rhabdodontid iguanodonts; they were somewhere between a buff looking hypsilophodont with a thick powerful jaw and a basal iguanodont. The two species have different adult sizes with Z. robustus measuring in at about 7 to 10ft (2 to 3m) and Z. shqiperorum at 13 to 15ft (4 to 4.5m). The size was of Z. robustus was attributed to the wonderful spectacle of insular dwarfism, which we have discussed previously in this blog.

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