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Kentrosaurus Name

The first fossils of Kentrosaurus were discovered by the German Tendaguru Expedition in 1909. Palaeontologist Edwin Hennig described and named Kentrosaurus in 1915.

Edwin Hennig:
Edwin Hennig

Scientists classify living things, including animals, using a hierarchical system of names. The lowest two levels in this system are the Genus (which refers to a closely related group of animals), and the Species (animals so closely related that they can breed and produce fertile offspring). The Genus and Species are often used in combination to identify a particular animal (this is known as the "Scientific Name" or "Binomen") of the animal. This system of naming animals is known as "Binomial nomenclature".

Edwin Hennig chose the name:
  • For the Genus, he chose "Kentrosaurus", from the Ancient Greek word "kentron" which means "sharp point", or "prickle", and from the Ancient Greek "sauros" which means "lizard". Thus Kentrosaurus means "pointed lizard" or "sharp pointed lizard" or "prickly lizard".

  • For the Species, Hennig chose "aethiopicus" which indicates the East African origin of the animal.
The name "Kentrosaurus" attracted some controversy, as there was already an unrelated dinosaur Genus called "Centrosaurus", and its name also deriving from the exact same Ancient Greek words. The rules of scientific naming forbid homonymy, that is to say two animals can not share the same name.

In 1916, Hennig therefore proposed a name change to "Kentrurosaurus" (which means pointed-tail lizard), whereas the Hungarian paleontologist Baron Franz Nopcsa proposed "Doryphorosaurus" (lance-bearing lizard).

Baron Franz Nopcsa:
Baron Franz Nopcsa

Eventually however it was determined that a name change was unnecessary, since "Kentrosaurus" and "Centrosaurus" are both spelled and pronounced differently ("Kentrosaurus" is pronounced with a hard-C, whereas "Centrosaurus" is pronounced with a soft-C).



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