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Uncle Goose Dinosaur Blocks

How did dinosaurs get their names?

In Greek, “deinos” means terrible and “sauros” means lizard. A dinosaur, therefore, is a “terrible lizard.”

Many dinosaur names end in “saurus.” Any time you see “saur” or “saurus” at the end of a name, it means “lizard.”

But the first part of every dinosaur’s name? That’s where the people who named them can get creative!

When someone unearths a dinosaur skeleton no one has found before, they get to name it. Most dinosaur names describe a unique feature of the beast.

dinosaur blocks


Some dinosaur names have Greek roots. Some have Latin roots. Some even have both!

But how did the ancient reptiles on Uncle Goose Dinosaur Blocks get their names? Let’s take a look at each.

1. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is called T-Rex for short. “Tyranno” is Greek for tyrant, and “Rex” means king in Latin. A giant predator with 8 inch teeth, the T-Rex is the tyrant lizard king.

2. Stegosaurus means “covered lizard” or “roof lizard” because of the spiny plates along its back. Do these plates remind you of roof tiles?

dinosaur blocks

3. The name Triceratops comes from the Greek. “Tri” means “three” and “keratops” means “horned face.” The Triceratops has the biggest skull of all the dinosaurs found so far.

4. In Latin, velox means "speedy," and raptor means "thief." That’s how the Velociraptor got its name. It’s Latin for “speedy thief.” Did you know that the Velociraptor has feathers?



5. The tall Brachiosaurus has forearms that are longer than its back legs. “Brachio” is Greek for arms, so the Brachiosaurus is the “arm lizard.”

6. Allosaurus means “different lizard.” But what makes it different? Unlike other dinosaurs found at the time, some of its vertebrae were concave and had cavities.

7. Spinosaurus means “spine lizard” in Greek. Look at its back. The vertebrae of the Spinosaurus are made up of tall bones. These bones make its spine stick out like a sail.

dinosaur blocks

8. Dilophosaurus means "two-crested lizard" in Greek. This dinosaur has two distinctive crests on top of its head. So far, this type of dinosaur has only been found in the American Southwest.

9. The Pterodactyl isn’t a dinosaur. It’s a flying reptile that lived in the same time period as many dinosaurs. The word Pterodactyl come from the Greek “pteron” which means wing. “Daktulos” means finger.

That’s how each of these 9 ancient reptile got their names. If you find a dinosaur that no one has found before, maybe you’ll get to name it, too!