Why is Irritator so Irritating? – #365papers – 2018 – 66

Martill, Cruickshank, Frey, Small, and Clarke, 1996, A new crested maniraptoran dinosaur from the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of Brazil: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 153, p. 5-8.

What’s it about?

This paper is the description of a new species (and Genus and Family) of dinosaur, grouped with the tetanuran theropods, a subgroup of carnivorous dinosaurs along the lineage leading to modern birds.

The type specimen was collected from the Santana Formation in Brazil, the same unit that gave us Santanaraptor.

Why does it matter?

Irritator is unique in having a large crest on the back part of its skull. This, plus characteistics of the teeth, led the authors to interpret Irritator as a fish-eating dinosaur.

Why did I read this?

Irritator is one of many new species of dinosaur collected from Brazil, and specifically from the Santana Formation. Unlike some species, like Santanaraptor, the type specimen is held in the Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde Stuttgart, Germany, meaning it was safe when the Museu Nacional of Brazil burned on September 2, 2018

What did I learn?

I had wondered what made the authors name the species ‘Irritator.’ Their reasoning is funny (and typical of paleontologists):

“Etymology: from irritation, the feeling the authors felt (understated here) when discovering that the snout had been artificially elongated.”

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About Penny

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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