Multiple Maiasaura

What is the proper common plural of ‘Maiasaura‘ anyway? Maiasauras, Maiasaurases, Maiasaurs? Anyway, doesn’t really matter, here are some of them, once more delving into my collection from the recent exhibition in Tokyo. Above is a partial skeleton augmented by casts, and below a number of sculpted babies in a nest.

13 Responses to “Multiple Maiasaura”


  1. 1 Mike Taylor 29/09/2011 at 12:41 pm

    Same problem applies with masculine dinosaur names, too, of course. Plural of Brachiosaurus? Surely not Brachiosauruses? Usually people chicken out and use “Brachiosaurus individuals”.

    (Of course you don’t have that problem with Xenoposeidon :-))

  2. 2 Joe Daniel 29/09/2011 at 2:51 pm

    If one follows the latin (which I would recommend, although obviously nto a requirement), I believe the proper plural would be Maiasaurae and Brachiosauri. If you anglicize it by dropping the -a and theeby making it not a proper species name, then maiasaurs would be preferred I think, with the added bonus that you don’t need to italicise it (my personal favorite solution).

  3. 3 Doug Henning 29/09/2011 at 2:54 pm

    Go Greek: Maiasaurae, Brachiosauroi, Xenoposeidones.

    That or treat them all like fish: 1 Maiasaura, 2 Maiasaura, 3 Brachiosaurus, 4 Xenoposeidon…

  4. 4 Jura 29/09/2011 at 3:08 pm

    It’s pretty well established that species and members of species are the same things, making the plural the same as the singular. Your first picture shows one Maiasaura while the second picture features five baby Maiasaura.

  5. 5 Mike Taylor 29/09/2011 at 3:17 pm

    “It’s pretty well established that species and members of species are the same things.”

    What do you mean by this? A cat is not the same thing as the species Felis cattus.

  6. 6 Jura 29/09/2011 at 9:57 pm

    A cat is not because cat can mean a house cat, a tiger, or anything in between. However saying that a house cat is a _Felis cattus_ (or _Felis sylvestris cattus_ depending on taxonomic leanings) would be accurate. So one could have a room full of house cats, or a room full of _Felis cattus_.

  7. 7 Mike Taylor 29/09/2011 at 10:07 pm

    Of course a house-cat is *a* Felis catus. But in saying that “species and members of species are the same things” you seemed to be saying that an individual house-cat *is* Felis catus. Did I misunderstand you?

  8. 8 Jura 29/09/2011 at 10:35 pm

    I think I might have explained things badly at the outset. My initial statement meant to read that when referring to a group, or an individual of a species, the same naming convention applies, because as far as the name is concerned, they are the same thing. I did not mean to imply that species — which are a nebulous association of population variation — are the same thing as individuals. The take home in all of this would be that saying: “Mike is a member of _Homo sapiens_” should be no different than saying: “Mike is a _Homo sapiens_,” while saying: “Mike is _Homo sapiens_” would be inaccurate.

  9. 9 Mike Taylor 29/09/2011 at 11:22 pm

    OK, thanks, that maker sense.

  10. 10 Mike Taylor 29/09/2011 at 11:23 pm

    … or indeed MAKES sense.

  11. 11 Joe D. 29/09/2011 at 11:27 pm

    While I am sure that rule has been used, I don’t think it would be accepted as a universal naming convention. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone say Tyrannosaurus are attacking. I think most people would consider that wrong (although I could be wrong of course). A Tyrannosaurus may be attacking, but saying Tyrannosaurus are attacking would be confusing. Certainly it would be incorrect according to Latin rules of nomenclature. But since scientific names are not strictly Latin, saying “Latin requires that…” doesn’t necessarily hold up. This sort of confusion is why I anglicize plurals to avoid the issue (and to avoid having to worry about the font). I can say one Tyrannosaurus is attacking, two tyrannosaurs are attacking.

    In some situations, I have seen it done as Jura states. A homo sapiens is typing this, but many (well, a few at least) homo sapiens are reading this post. But I wonder if this is a special case of having an s at the end and not a wider rule. it would work with -a as well, not so well with -us.

    I think this discussion indicates there are no formally accepted rules that are known by everyone and most people sort of make their own decisions as they go along.

  12. 12 Doug Henning 30/09/2011 at 4:38 pm

    Anglicizing and lowercasing the genus is much classier, I think, as it has the advantage of transforming proper and possibly alienating nouns into simple nouns that reflect the way we usually encounter species in writing, a la lowercase dog, blowfish, sloth, vampire squid, et al

    For example:

    “As the sun rose over the eastern hills of the Junggur Basin, four guanlongs, their orange and purple crests brilliant in the morning rays, finished consuming the sad carcass of the juvenile jiangjunosaur last night’s raid had profited them. Nearby, a triad of fuzzy haplocheirs began the demolition of a termite mound with their stubby single-clawed hands and snaking snouts. The panic among the roach-like pycnoblattine termites, desperate to preserve their pupae, was palpable.”

  13. 13 Nathan Kitchen 14/10/2011 at 11:33 pm

    Doug’s example looks like good English to me, but I still find it funny because Chinese doesn’t decline for plurals, so “guanlong” could be singular or plural.


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