Monday, July 19, 2010

The taxon Dinosauria was formally named in 1842 by Sir Richard Owen, who used it to refer to the "distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles" that were then being recognized in England and around the world. The term is derived from the Greek words δεινός (deinos meaning "terrible", "powerful", or "wondrous") and σαῦρος (sauros meaning "lizard" or "reptile"). Though the taxonomic name has often been interpreted as a reference to dinosaurs' teeth, claws, and other fearsome characteristics, Owen intended it merely to evoke their size and majesty. In colloquial English "dinosaur" is sometimes used to describe an obsolete or unsuccessful thing or person,[10] despite the dinosaurs' 160 million year reign and the global abundance and diversity of their avian descendants: modern-day birds.


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