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Scientists call for ditching ‘sexist’ dinosaur names

Dinosaur news

The researchers also said they want new, more inclusive guidelines for naming species.

German paleobiologists have called for an overhaul of the system used in naming dinosaurs, arguing the current nomenclature contains nearly 100 “potentially offensive” names, Nature magazine reported on Tuesday, citing the team’s still-unpublished paper.

A group of researchers analyzed the names of every dinosaur fossil from the Mesozoic Era, defined as between 251.9 million and 66 million years ago, combing through 1,500 species for names they perceived as “emanating racism, sexism, named after (neo)colonial contexts or after controversial figures).”

They found 89 “problematic” species, according to Nature, amounting to less than 3% of the names analyzed. A dinosaur species might be deemed problematic simply because its name was based on the colonial name for the area where the fossil was discovered, the researchers explained, lamenting that “indigenous-language names of places or researchers are often not used or are mistranslated.”

“The problem in terms of numbers is really insignificant. But it is significant in terms of importance,” insisted paleontologist Evangelos Vlachos of the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio, who co-authored the paper with the German team led by Emma Dunne of Friedrich-Alexander University.

“We aren’t saying that tomorrow we need to change everything. But we need to critically revise what we have done, see what we have done well and what we have not done well, and try to correct it in the future,” Vlachos told Nature, calling on the field of paleontology to change the way it names new discoveries.

In particular, the paper’s authors argued for ditching eponyms – naming species after people – which have become increasingly common in the last two decades. They also complained that 87% of gendered name endings for species were masculine. Instead, they said, paleontologists should choose names that describe the creature being named, such as triceratops, whose name is based on Greek words meaning “three-horned face.”

However, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), which has established loose guidelines for naming species, categorically opposes banning eponyms and would not consider renaming “offensive” species “unless there are what we would call formal nomenclatural reasons,” the organization’s president Thomas Pape of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen told Nature. The group currently only requires that a new dinosaur’s name be unique, linked to a single specimen, and announced in publication.

Insisting she was not trying to make more work for academics in the field, Dunne called on the ICZN to “do better and be more representative of the community.”

Last year, the American Ornithological Society announced a dramatic overhaul of its own nomenclature system, promising to drop all English names of bird species currently named after people, as well as any other bird names that could potentially be considered offensive or less than inclusive.

Image credit: Markus Spiske

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Source:RT News

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my God, SHUT THE F*CK UP ALREADY!!!

    Racism and sexism and colonialism under every rock and between every blade of grass 😱

    No matter how much is conceded, it’s never enough and will never BE enough.

    Perhaps when the Ethiopians, the aborigines, the red indians and the Eskimos all start building gigantic museums and universities and spending their tax money scouring the four corners of the earth Charles Darwin style in search of answers to history and science and all the rest of the universe’s mysteries, maybe once they ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTE something of value to the rest of the world, they might have the chance to name something cool after themselves too. I’m just saying it’s the best time in human history to be of non-European origin, the world is literally too terrified to deny you anything – you just have to go out and actually work for it.

    Until then just stop with the pathetic petty racial jealousy already, Jesus Christ.

    And they wonder why fewer and fewer people see the value in sending their kids to woke Universities these days.

    Freakin racist dinosaur names 😑🤦🏼

  2. Everyone stop complaining!
    These students spent years and hundreds of millions of tax dollars on this project.
    Give them a round of applause and a participation trophy! 🤣🤣🤣🤣

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