Arthropods trump dinosaurs, again!

ResearchBlogging.orgBy now most of you are probably familiar that this blog takes its name from a tyrannosauroid dinosaur originally named Laelaps by E.D. Cope but changed to Dryptosaurus by O.C. Marsh when it was discovered that the name Laelaps was preoccupied by a kind of mite. According to a taxonomic note in the latest issue of the Journal of Paleontology, a similar change-up is now in order, this time involving the ceratopsian dinosaurs Diceratops (Lull, 1905) and Microceratops (Bohlin, 1953). As it turns out, both Diceratops and Microceratops were originally applied to insects in the order hymenoptera (wasps, bees, ants, etc.), Diceratops in 1868 and Microceratops in 1952 (making it a very close shave between the dinosaur and the arthopod).

A further wasp in the paleontological ointment is that (as far as I am aware) we’re still waiting for a good description of Diceratops and for more material as the existence of this genus is somewhat controversial; some think it should be folded into Triceratops but others consider it to be a valid genus. For now, though, using Diceratops for the dinosaur is right out, and in order to help preserve the feel of the name (and reduce confusion) Octavio Mateus has proposed Diceratus as a replacement. Likewise, Microceratus is proposed as a replacement for Microceratops, although the validity of this genus, too, has been called into question. Oh. what a tangled web we weave…

Mateus, O. (2008). Two Ornithischian Dinosaurs Renamed: Microceratops Bohlin 1953 and Diceratops Lull 1905. Journal of Paleontology, 82(2), 423. DOI: 10.1666/07-069.1

[Update: ReBecca also covered this change at her blog.]


  1. #1 John Conway
    February 27, 2008

    Aw geez, not again! Those durned pesky bugs should all have some sort of prefix to avoid confusion, like ‘[Bugus]insignificatus pointlessi’. That’d get dem bugs of our lawn!

  2. #2 Laelaps
    February 27, 2008

    Exactly, John. 😉 All those entomologists are just hoggin’ all the good names.

    Then again, I do like the -ceratus suffix; makes the name sound a bit more impressive than the standard -ceratops.

  3. #3 Will Baird
    February 27, 2008

    -ceratus makes me think of theropods though…

  4. #4 ReBecca
    February 28, 2008

    Thanks for the nod. Great minds think alike :)
    (although you are, as always, more articulate. Kudos) 😉

  5. #5 Christopher Taylor
    February 28, 2008

    All those entomologists are just hoggin’ all the good names.

    Awwww, poor wittle vertebrate people. Boo hoo.

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