Dinosaur Alphabet Game – A Dinosaur beginning with “Z”

With the cold weather, our teaching activities came to an abrupt halt, we could not travel to the schools as promised what with the snow, freezing temperatures and difficult driving conditions.  Hopefully, we will be able to rearrange these teaching sessions, aiming to deliver them when the temperature rises above zero Celsius, at least during daytime.

We continued working on a number of other projects, one of which led to team members discussing the emergence of a number of dinosaur genera that now begin with the letter Z.  In the last twenty years or so the number of dinosaur genera known to science has increased. This is largely due to two factors, firstly the increasing number of new dinosaur fossils being discovered, named and described, secondly to the re-analyis of existing dinosaur fossil material that as been reassigned to new genera after further research.

One of the earliest members of the Dinosauria Order to be given a scientific genus name beginning with “Z” is the obscure North American Theropod Zapsalis which was named by the prolific American palaeontologist Edward Drinker Cope in 1876.  Known from just a single, serrated tooth, this name is described as nomen dubium, a name given to a genus whose validity is in doubt (easy to remember, the word “dubious” has the same entomological origins).  It is thanks to the Chinese that we now have a number of dinosaur genera beginning with the letter Z to rival dinosaurs such as Zephyrosaurus, the Ornithopod used to complete the dinosaur alphabet on our yellow alphabet T-shirt.

Everything Dinosaur Dinosaur Alphabet T-shirt

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This bright, yellow, cotton T-shirt helps to reinforce the educational value of dinosaurs by illustrating 26 dinosaurs, one genus for each letter of the alphabet.  It is a great addition to our dinosaur themed children’s clothing range.

To view the T-shirt and other dinosaur clothing: Dinosaur Clothing

There is Zhongyuansaurus, a genus of Ankylosaur known from excellent material discovered in Henan Province, Zhuchengosaurus, a huge Ornithopod known from partial remains and Zizhongosaurus, a primitive Sauropod from the Jurassic of China.  However, perhaps the best known of all the dinosaur genera beginning with “Z” is Zuniceratops, an early Ceratopsian from New Mexico (USA).  This four metre long, browser had two brow horns but no nose horn.  The neck shield was quite large in adults, with two substantial holes, which were probably covered in skin when the animal was alive.  The holes in the neck crest are called fenestra.

When team members are asked to provide an example of a dinosaur beginning with the letter “Z” we tend to choose Zuniceratops.  A number of specimens are known and the fossil material available has enabled scientists to build up a detailed picture of this horned dinosaur.  The specific name is Z. christopheri.  This dinosaur was named after the local Indian tribe of New Mexico, the Zuni tribe, the specific name relates to Christopher Wolfe the son of the palaeontologist who co-authored the formal description of this particular basal Ceratopsian.

A Scale Drawing of Zuniceratops

Zuniceratops Drawing

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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