Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Aye Aye, Ajkaceratops

I have a small request for paleontologists. Can we please give the letter "A" a rest when naming new dinosaur genera? See, I try to be cute when writing about new discoveries, and give the posts alliterative titles. It's only May and my options for "A" are wearing really thin. In the beginning, I planned on only using greetings. I figured that every letter of the alphabet would begin a greeting in at least one language. Well, that's out the window. So now, I'm reduced to pirate-talk when I want to write about the exciting European ceratopsian Ajkaceratops kozmai.

But maybe piratese isn't such a bad way to title a post about a dinosaur whose late Cretaceous habitat is likely due to an "island-hopping" radiation of Asian ancestors. Ajkaceratops (pronounced oikaceratops) is more similar to primitive ceratopsians like Bagaceratops than it is to the famous giants of the North American west.
Bagaceratops by Nobu Tamura. Via wikimedia commons.

Ajkaceratops is described in the new issue of Nature by Attila Osi, R.J. Butler, and David Weishampel. I find the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous European archipelago fascinating - as discussed previously, many of them are smaller or more primitively built than their better known contemporaries. Had the Chicxulub disaster not happened, who knows what kind of interesting routes their evolution may have taken?

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