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The 10 Best Dinosaur Names

The Most Impressive Dinosaur Names, from Achillobator to Vulcanodon

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Not all dinosaurs have impressive names: it takes a particular type of paleontologist to come up with a name that's so striking, so descriptive, that it forever fixes a dinosaur in the public imagination. Here's a list of the 10 most memorable dinosaur names, ranging from Achillobator to Vulcanodon. (Just how cool were these dinosaurs? Compare them to the 10 Worst Dinosaur Names; also, see a complete, A to Z list of dinosaurs.)

1. Achillobator

achillobator
Matt Martyniuk

The name Achillobator partakes of both Greek and Mongolian elements--the first part of this dinosaur's name refers to the legendary Greek hero Achilles, and the second is the Mongolian root for "warrior." It also doesn't hurt that this fierce raptor's name is pronounced ah-KILL-oh-bay-tore. More about Achillobator

2. Gigantoraptor

gigantoraptor
Taena Doman

From its name, you might think that Gigantoraptor was the biggest raptor that ever lived, outclassing even Utahraptor and Deinonychus. The fact is, though, that this impressively named dinosaur wasn't a true raptor at all, but a late Cretaceous theropod closely related to Oviraptor. More about Gigantoraptor

3. Iguanacolossus

iguanacolossus
Lukas Panzarin

A relatively new addition to the dinosaur bestiary, Iguanacolossus (you don't need to know Greek to translate this name as "colossal iguana") was a multi-ton ornithopod of the late Cretaceous period. And yes, in case you were wondering, this plant-muncher was a close relative of Iguanodon. More about Iguanacolossus

4. Khaan

khaan
Wikimedia Commons

Why do central Asian dino-birds get all the coolest names? Khaan is the Mongolian word for "lord," as you might already have guessed from the famous Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan. Ironically, though, Khaan wasn't all that big or fierce, only measuring about four feet from head to tail and weighing 30 pounds. More about Khaan

5. Raptorex

raptorex
Wikispaces

Cleverly combining bits of the names Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus Rex, Raptorex leaned toward the latter side of the dinosaur family: this is one of the earliest tyrannosaurs yet identified, roaming the plains of central Asia a full 60 million years before its more famous namesakes. More about Raptorex

6. Skorpiovenator

skorpiovenator
Nobu Tamura

The name Skorpiovenator (Greek for "scorpion hunter") is cool and misleading at the same time. This large theropod didn't receive its moniker because it feasted on scorpions; rather, its "type fossil" was found in close proximity to a seething bed of living scorpions. More about Skorpiovenator

7. Stygimoloch

stygimoloch
Berlin Natural History Museum

The difficult-to-pronounce Stygimoloch hovers uneasily on the line dividing the best and worst dinosaur names. What puts this pachycephalosaur in the "best" category is that its name translates roughly as "horned demon from the river of hell," a reference to the vaguely satanic appearance of its skull. More about Stygimoloch

8. Supersaurus

supersaurus
Luis Rey

With a name like Supersaurus, you'd think this 50-ton sauropod of the late Jurassic period liked to prance around in a cape and tights. Ironically, though, this "super lizard" was far from the biggest example of its breed; some of the titanosaurs that succeeded it weighed more than 100 tons. More about Supersaurus

9. Tyrannotitan

tyrannotitan
Futura Sciences

Sometimes, the "wow factor" of a dinosaur's name is inversely proportional to the amount we know about it. Tyrannotitan wasn't a true tyrannosaur, but a large theropod of middle Cretaceous South America that was closely related to Giganotosaurus; beyond that, though, it's fairly obscure. More about Tyrannotitan

10. Vulcanodon

vulcanodon
JuraPark

Vulcanodon--Greek for "volcano tooth"--wasn't even close to being the most volcanic dinosaur of its time and place, though it did achieve some impressive measurements by the standards of the early Jurassic period. This sauropod's name references the fact that its fossils were found buried in volcanic sediments. More about Vulcanodon

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