I am fairly interested in the work that is presented in New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs [1], a volume of data that should be useful to someone like me. More, I am interested in putting forward some posts on ceratopsians (or rather, marginocephalians), the most interesting group of ornithischians I know of. A recent piece by Hungarian paleontologist Attila Ősi (and friends) describes a new “bagaceratopsid,” Ajkaceratops kozmai [2] – a basal coronosaurian ceratopsian with some interesting oral anatomy. It may even be a dwarf taxon, much like the famed dinosaurs of Haţeg, Romania.

This is all interesting stuff once you get into ceratopsian oral processing, the restriction to orthal and limited propalinal jaw movement, and the peculiar anatomy of the predentary and rostral bones along with the occasional retention of premaxillary teeth. Moreover, the extreme akinetism in even the most basal ceratopsians is of extreme interest, and you should expect to hear from me about it.

Much thanks to Tom Holtz for helping me with the Ősi paper!

A final note: It’s pronounced “OY-ka-KAIR-a-tops“; the authors favor use of “oy-ka-sair-a-tops,” but this is based on the common pronunciation of ceratops with a S-sound, rather than the intended Greek hard-K. This runs aground of the argument of originalism in pronunciation, both the authors’ preferred and of the language itself, but I think using the name of the town the taxon is named for (Ajka, Hungary: “OY-ka“) plus the Greek ceratops should make the pronunciation simplistic, regardless of English sloppiness or imperialism. Using guides in pronouncing new taxon names is great, but using them with the understanding the foreign people are often unfamiliar with only part of the words being used is also great.

[1] Ryan, M. J., Chinnery-Allgeier, B. J. & Eberth, D. A. 2010. New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs. (Indiana University Press, Bloomington.)
[2] Ősi, A., Butler, R. J. & Weishampel, D. B. 2010. A Late Cretaceous ceratopsian from Europe with Asian affinities. Nature 465(7297):466-468.

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3 Responses to Anticipation

  1. Brad McFeeters says:

    The history of “KAIR-a-tops” vs. “sair-a-tops” would make a fascinating essay in itself! I wonder if anyone actually knows how Marsh pronounced it, and who was the first person to pronounce it the other way. Did the divide happen at some point within the paleontological community, or when Triceratops became a pop culture figure?

    Do you pronounce “Centrosaurus” identical to “Kentrosaurus”?

  2. Richard says:

    I’m afraid that I can’t really follow your last paragraph, particularly the bits about English “sloppiness” and “imperialism”. What is the compelling argument for using a hard K sound? Ben Creisler recommends the soft S sound in his dinosaur pronunciation guide (, and this is by far the most common form used for ceratopsians amongst palaeontologists as far as I am aware. Besides, given that our team discovered and studied the material and came up with the name, and provided a pronunciation (primarily because the pronunciation of the town of Ajka is not intuitive to native English speakers), shouldn’t our decision on how it is pronounced count for something?

    • qilong says:

      When I wrote about English sloppiness and imperialism, I was attempting a dual strike: American linguistics is, if anything, generally sloppy. There tends not to a truly “correct” pronunciation when it comes to American English; on the other hand, the British “Queen’s” English often seems full of itself, despite suffering from the same effects that American English does: The formation of dialects deteriorates the structure a single pronunciation (much less spelling).

      I agree with following authors’ intent in the general, but in many cases the authors can be mistaken about the pronunciation they favor or use; when this comes into conflict with my understanding of the language, I tend to either err on the side of the linguistics, or discard it to favor authorial pronunciation. In this case, it depends on the Greek κεράτος, from κέρας, while having been through the Latin wringer to give us “cerato-.” Ben Creisler, as good as he is, is using the source most authors used when originally forming the name Ceratops (from Latin forms of Greek), while bypassing Greek. Lately, etymologies use the Greek, as if to directly borrow from that language than use the conventional “-ceratops (derived from the genus Ceratops)” etymology.

      Depending on the usage, I would be more of a stickler for, when using Greek, to use a hard-K (where no C is used and sounds are strongly delineated between S and K, unlike in Latin). Because of this, in response to Brad, I would say KEN-tro-SAWR-us — if I was deriving from Greek; I think in this case, the word is coming through Latin directly, and would be SEN-tro-SAWR-us (oddly enough, spelling aside, so too would the African stegosaurian — that in itself might be a topic to discuss in a further post).

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