Friday, November 20, 2009

What about "WhattaCroc?"


Araripesuchus wegeneri, from Nat Geo. Drawing by Todd Marshall.

National Geographic News is featuring a slideshow displaying the stars of their new special "When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs," premiering tomorrow, November 21 on the National Geographic Channel. Get a sneak-peak of the digital reincarnations of paleontologist Paul Sereno's RatCroc, DuckCroc, DogCroc, BoarCroc and...

Wait for it...

PancakeCroc. You know, because its head is flat. Flat like a pancake.

Seriously, it's bad enough to give these crocodiles nicknames that sound like creatures the Battletoads would kill. But PancakeCroc? Really? Really? Why not nickname Stegosaurus PlateBack? And we could just call elephants HoseHeads.

Because I don't believe that people are too stupid to handle the binomial names, let's just set the record straight.
  • BoarCroc = Kaprosuchus saharicus
  • RatCroc = Araripesuchus rattoides
  • DogCroc = Araripesuchus wegeneri
  • DuckCroc = Anatosuchus minor
  • PancakeCroc = Laganosuchus thaumastos
The University of Chicago neglects to place the blame for these nicknames, so we have to assume that it's all on Sereno. I guess I see the reasoning here. The point is to grab people's attention. But the -suchus suffix (meaning crocodile) is such a good one. It's fun to say. I'd like to believe that these ugly compound nicknames aren't really necessary.

The root of this might be Robert Bakker, who repeatedly refers to Lagosuchus as "rabbit-croc" in The Dinosaur Heresies. Though in that case, I can see exactly why he would do so: in attempting to overhaul the popular image of dinosaurs, it helped to paint the image of one of their forebears as an active creature, an counterintuitive amalgam of reptile and mammal.

1 comment:

  1. You're totally right to trace it back to Bob Bakker, but yeah, Sereno (two publicists!) seems to have taken it to the hilt. I had to search a little harder than I liked to find out "BoarCroc," my new favorite extinct can't-believe-it-was-real creature, is actually Kaprosuchus saharicus. :P

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