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Sasha Harris-Lovett, "Meet Wendiceratops, a horned dinosaur unlike any other", LA Times 7/8/2015:

Move over Indominus Rex – scientists have discovered a previously unknown dinosaur in Canada that's cooler than any “Jurassic World” creation. And it’s real.

The creature, a member of the family of horned dinosaurs, was an older cousin of Triceratops that lived about 79 million years ago. Like Triceratops, it had horns emanating from its face and head, along with a bony beak that it used to shred plants before eating them. […]

The story begins with professional fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda, who spotted something that appeared to be a dinosaur bone sticking out of a steep hill in southern Alberta, Canada, in 2010.

And yes, Wendiceratops is named after her:

The Canadian researchers named the new species Wendiceratops pinhornensis, in honor of Sloboda and the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve, where the fossils were found.  

“Wendy Sloboda is probably the best fossil finder in the world,” said Ryan, who took her on an expedition to Greenland to help him find dinosaurs there. (She did.) “We’ve always known that we wanted to name a dinosaur after her, but we wanted it to be a really great dinosaur.”

For the scientific details, see David Evans and Michael Ryan, "Cranial Anatomy of Wendiceratops pinhornensis gen. et sp. nov., a Centrosaurine Ceratopsid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Oldman Formation (Campanian), Alberta, Canada, and the Evolution of Ceratopsid Nasal Ornamentation", PLoS ONE 7/8/2015.

Ms. Sloboda didn't get co-authorship credit, but she did get a tattoo out of the deal:

I don't know a lot about evolving species-naming fashions, but are there many other species-names created out of someone's first name and a couple of science-Greek morphemes? [Should be "genus-names" — sorry…]

There's an ironic resonance in the other direction: the cast of characters in the children's cartoon series Land Before Time includes a peach-colored triceratops named "Cera" (pronounced "Sara"):


  1. Peter Donald said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 6:45 am

    Gary Larson (of Far side – and every-other-door-in-every-block-of-faculty-offices) fame has a louse (Strigiphilus garylarsoni), an Ecuadorian rainforest butterfly (Serratoterga larsoni), and a beetle (Garylarsonius) named after him.

    And, sticking with the dinosaur theme, the arrangement of spikes on the tails of stegosaurids is often informally referred to as a "thagomizer", which Larson coined in a strip in the early 80s.

    [(myl) I knew about the Gary Larson bug names; but Wendiceratops is different in several ways:

    (a) It's only the first name that's used;
    (b) The first name is combined with some science-Greek content morphemes (τρικέρατος three-horned + ὤψ face);
    (c) The personal name forms part of the genus name ("Wendiceratops") rather than the species name ("pinhornensis").


  2. Stan Carey said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 7:54 am

    Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature's Named after People page has rich pickings along these lines. (The rest of the website is similarly entertaining.)

  3. Ben Zimmer said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 8:10 am

    I'm proud to say that my brother Carl has a tapeworm species named after him, Acanthobothrium zimmeri.

    The fusion of Wend-y/i with (Tri)ceratops somewhat reminds me of the fishapod blend, which I discussed here. Of course, unlike fishapod (fish + [tetr]apod), Wendiceratops doesn't represent some sort of halfway point between Wendy and Triceratops.

    The "Named After People" page posted by Stan has some more comparable cases, such as Elvisaurus Holmes (now Cryolophosaurus), the Gretchena genus of moths (named after the taxonomist's mother), and Bobbichthys (presumably named after a Bobby).

  4. Azmodes said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 8:43 am

    Leaellynasaura comes to mind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaellynasaura

    Named after the daughter of its discoverers.

  5. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 8:59 am

    Since feminism has been brought up, I'll point out that there are American birds called Anna's Hummingbird, Grace's Warbler, Lucy's Warbler, and Virginia's Warbler, but none with male first names. I don't know whether Wendisaurus is part of a similar trend, or Ms. Svoboda preferred it, or what.

    Not to peeve, and I'm glad to see that at least one newspaper italicizes scientific names, but the L. A. Times should have written Indominus rex.

  6. Azmodes said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 9:04 am

    Also, it's worth noting that Leaellynasaura is one of a very small number of dinosaur genera using the femine form instead of the usual "-saurus". I assume in this case the gender of the namesake was the reason?

    Other examples are Maiasaura ("caring mother lizard", so that's obvious) and Laquintasaura (fossils were excavated from the La Quinta Formation in Venezuela/Columbia; perhaps "-saura" was chosen to agree with the Spanish gender?).

  7. bks said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 10:18 am

    Has this heroic effort appeared on Language Log?



    [(myl) "Introducing the Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group", 6/21/2014.]

  8. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 10:59 am

    Speaking of mistakes, I meant "Sloboda".

  9. Gregory Kusnick said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

    Wendiceratops is not formed by dropping the tri- from Triceratops, as Mark and Ben seem to imply. Rather, it's formed in the same way as dozens of other ceratopsid names, by adding a prefix to the -ceratops root.

    On this view, Triceratops might best be translated not as "three-horned face", but "triple hornface", and Wendiceratops as "Wendy's hornface".

  10. David L said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

    Wendy's popularity as a girl's name is largely due to Peter Pan. So this is a dinosaur named after a person named after a fictional character. Does any other species name have a similar provenance?

  11. Emily said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

    Ernst Haeckel named a jellyfish Desmonema annasethe after his late wife Anna Sethe. I think taxonomic names that combine someone's first and last name in that manner are something of a rarity, although Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature does have a few including jamescameroni and michaeljacksoni.

  12. Stephen Hart said,

    July 9, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

    "Wendiceratops is not formed by dropping the tri- from Triceratops, as Mark and Ben seem to imply. Rather, it's formed in the same way as dozens of other ceratopsid names, by adding a prefix to the -ceratops root."

    Just as Regaliceratops was named for its regal appearance + ceraptops. The species name honored the discover Geologist Peter Hews, hence Regaliceratops peterhewsi.


  13. Guy said,

    July 10, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

    @Jerry Friedman

    I don't think "Indominus Rex" really qualifies as a scientific name even within the fictional universe, it's more like a scientific-sounding brand name, like branded drug names. I would assume "Indominus Rex" was considered a trademark in the context of the fictional universe.

  14. Anthea Fleming said,

    July 10, 2015 @ 11:25 pm

    My late teacher Yvonne Nicholls at one time collected ants in Australian forests. She found an undescribed species which her mentor offered to name after her. As there was already an ant named after a different [male] Nicholls, it became yvonnae. I'm sorry that I've forgotten its generic name.

  15. Viseguy said,

    July 11, 2015 @ 12:32 am

    Camponotus chrysurus yvonnae?

  16. Joe Eaton said,

    July 13, 2015 @ 10:02 pm

    Most of the personal-name taxonomic descriptors I'm aware of are species names like garylarsoni–lower-case, following the genus. The 19th-century Argentine paleontologist Florentino Ameghino was notorious for coining genera based on full personal names. He christened an ungainly hippo-like mammal Thomashuxleya in honor of the British evolutionist nicknamed "Darwin's bulldog."

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