John Trotter’s Brontomerus cartoon

January 30, 2013

Brontomerus cartoon - John Trotter - paintmonkeystudios-dot-com

One of our army of field correspondents, Seth Segal, sent us a scan of this cartoon from the spring 2011 issue (#97) of Prehistoric Times (yes, we’re a bit late to the party on this one). Shifty little weasels that we are, we were entertained by it, so we tracked down John Trotter at Paintmonkey Studios. He kindly sent the nice version you see above, and gave us permission to post.

I really like the idea of undescribed dinosaurs just going about their business, and then being surprised by having new names sprung on them. I can well imagine some of them being disappointed, too.

Argentina…saurus. Lizard. From. Argentina. Seriously? You know, there’s a million dinosaurs from Argentina. Why do I get stuck with the generic name that is actually generic? Nothing about how big I am? Really? I mean, I weigh, like, two Supersauruses. What’s the Latin for double-Supersaurus-rex? And here I am with Antarctosaurus–that poser’s got a whole continent in his name, and he’s not even from there! And what about that so-called “earthquake lizard”? I heard they found him wandering around all delusionsal, claiming to be 150 feet long and the biggest thing ever, and the cops had to remind him he’s just an old-ass Diplodocus. Play some more Brain Age, grandpa! Forget it. I’m gonna go hunt up Brazilsaurus and Uruguaysaurus and get a football game together… What do you mean, they haven’t been named yet? Aw, man!”


Pre-emptive note to the etymology mafia: yes, I know that Antarctosaurus means “southern lizard”, not “lizard from Antarctica”. But in this joke, Argentinosaurus is not so well-informed.

This imaginary interlude was brought to you by Becky Crew’s habit of putting words in animals’ mouths, and by Mike’s proposed moratorium on “place-saurus” names, and by the number 11.

10 Responses to “John Trotter’s Brontomerus cartoon”

  1. Brian Says:

    Wouldn’t “southern lizard” be “Australosaurus?” “Antarctosaurus” would be either “Antarctic lizard” or “lizard opposed to bears.” Hmmm. Is “Colbertsaurus” its junior synonym?

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Pedantically, Antarctosaurus is “non-northern lizard”. Which I think we can agree qualifies as a Grade A Lame-Name.

  3. Mark Robinson Says:

    Photos of the recently dismembered necks of extant theropods and the less recently disarticulated necks of extinct sauropods, book reviews, discourses on phylogeny, Academic Spring and the push for OA, all interspersed with occasional fluff pieces. I love that I’m never sure what the next SV-POW! post will be but that they are all eminently readable, often informative, and very enjoyable. The comments thread, when it kicks off, can be kick-ass too. (I used the US spelling as it’s a US term).

    I’m with Mike regarding “place-saurus” generic names but would also like to add “person-saurus” names (or, worse, just “person” – I mean, Drinker, really?). Actually, I think I’d like to ban all pronoun based generic names. Yes, I’m looking at you, Qantassaurus and Atlascopcosaurus.

    Honouring a person, place, or sponsoring entity in the specific part for the binomial is obviously fine, even when taken to the ridiculous level seen in Tianchisaurus nedegoapeferima. Fortunately, Dong had a moment of clarity and rejected the originally proposed generic name of “Jurassosaurus”.

  4. Brian Says:

    The Greek word “arktos” means bear. Arctic essentially means “There are bears there.” North is “boreios,” and “non-northern lizard” would be the Greek-Latin hybrid Miborosaurus or Antiborosaurus or something like that.

    But Antarctosaurus is definitely “Lizard opposed to bears.”

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Mark, for those very kind words. I’ve quoted your comment on the What They’re Saying page.

    Brian, your Latin/Greek may be better than Von Huene’s, but I can assure you that what he meant by the name was “non-northern lizard”. But I like your version much more. You know who else is against bears? Robots. It’s like pirates and ninjas — they’re natural enemies.

  6. Brian Says:

    Hm…. Robot bears…. My role-playing group is going to have some funky new enemies this week….

  7. Vertebrat Says:

    Arctic essentially means “There are bears there.”

    IIUC it’s not a reference to actual bears but to constellations: north is where Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are.

  8. Mark Robinson Says:

    Damn Mike, if I’d known you were going to quote me I would have written something pithy such as Neil Kelley’s “I come for the pedantry and stay for the pneumatics”!

    With regard to “arcto-“, arktikos (from where we get ‘arctic’) means “near the bear” and is indeed a reference to one or both Ursa constellations. It is derived from arktos “bear”. So, in that sense, I agree with Brian that Antarcto- means “against-” or “opposed to- bears”, altho’ it’s not what von Huene intended. Antarcticosaurus would have been a better representation for “southern lizard” altho’ I think that Notosaurus would be better still.

    Interestingly in 1933, von Huene (in collaboration with Matley) named a new species of AntarctosaurusA. septentrionalis (now Jainosaurus septentrionalis). “Septentrionalis” is Latin and is their word for “from the north”. As with arktikos it also refers to a group of stars (in this case technically an asterism rather than a constellation), the seven stars of The Big Dipper; part of – you guessed it – Ursa Major.

    So we had “southern lizard (whose remains were) found in the northern hemisphere”.

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    That’s a sweet bit of etymology, especially how both the northern and southern halves of the name are bear-based. I would like to think that was deliberate.

  10. Matt Wedel Says:

    I think we can be pretty certain that it was deliberate–von Huene was extremely erudite. And you’re right, that’s some slick work. I think I have a new bar for etymological legerdemain in coining taxonomic names.

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