• Question: Why did we call dinosaurs dinosuars? does that name mean anything?

    Asked by saracallaway to James P, James V, Nuala on 5 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: James Pope

      James Pope answered on 5 Jul 2012:

      The name means “Terrible Lizard” and were named by a Victorian British geologist Sir Richard Owen. The big mistake people make is he saw their teeth and claws and so named them, but he claimed it was to project their size and power. I’m not 100% sure I believe him!

    • Photo: James Verdon

      James Verdon answered on 5 Jul 2012:

      Hi saracallaway,

      The word dinosaur comes from two Greek works. Deino, meaning terrifying, and saurus, meaning lizard. So ‘dinosaur’ means ‘terrifying lizard’. The name was first given to them by Richard Owen, who was a palaeontologist in the 19th Century. Owen was the first director of the Natural History Museum in London.

      Dinosaurs bones had been discovered in quarries and other places in the 17th and 18th Centuries. However, Iguanodon was one of the first specimens to be collected and described scientifically in 1820. As more and more bones were discovered, it became clear that there was a whole lineage of huge lizards that had once walked the earth and were now extinct. So Richard Owen came up with the name dinosaur to describe them all.