A dinosaur which had a heart-shaped frill on its head has been named Mojoceratops by its discoverer, who wanted the name to reflect the dinosaur’s flamboyant appearance.
The dinosaur belongs to the chasmosaurine ceratopsid family – which are defined by frills on their head, although the new member is the most ostentatious.
“It was just a joke, but then everyone stopped and looked at each other and said ‘Wait – that actually sounds cool,’” said Nicholas Longrich, a postdoctoral associate at Yale University, “I tried to come up with serious names after that but Mojoceratops just sort of stuck.”
After naming the find, Longrich – who discovered the new dinosaur species at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada – started looking at its etymology and found the name was a perfect fit for the species.
“I discovered that ‘mojo’ is an earth 20th century African-American term meaning a magic charm or talisman, often used to attract members of the opposite sex,” said Longridge, “This dinosaur probably used it’s frills to attract mates so the name made sense.”
The dinosaur’s full name is Mojoceratops perifania – perifania means pride in Greek. The other part of the name follows the convention of other related species – like the Triceratops – with ceras being the Greek for horn and ops being Greek for face.
“You’re supposed to use Latin and Greek names, but this just seemed more fun,” Longrich said, “You can do good science and still have some fun too. So why not?”