The final verdict seems to be in. Whether we like it or not, (and most of us emphatically do not), the latest fossil evidence indicates that not only was the skin of a typical tyrannosaur covered with feathers well into adulthood, but that they also hunted in packs. In acknowledgement of this, paleontologists have applied a collective descriptor noun to the group, as with a “murder of crows ” or a “pride of lions”. Leaping right over my daughter’s and my favorite, a “tyranny of tyrannosaurs,” they have instead decreed that henceforth, the collective noun describing a grouping of tyrannosaurs shall be a “terror of tyrannosaurs”.
Well, I disagree. I think that such a major morphological modification of the phenotype is too important not to be acknowledged. So, in deference to their avian descendants, I humbly suggest that the collective noun now currently being applied to the gathering of tyrannosaurs, in light of their feathery coating, be modified to read:
“Downy-soft terrors of tyrannosaurs” .
Well, why not? After all, the entire genera has roots about as ephemeral as Burnham Wood; they really put the ‘no’ “in nomenclature.” Don’t believe it? How about the dueling collectors, whose feud over which sauropod was real lasted almost a quarter of the 19th Century before one reluctantly surrendered his beloved “thunder lizard” –the classic Brontosaurus–to the dustbin of pre-history, leaving Apatosaurus to rule the day.
Going back to T. Rex for a moment, he had his share of red tape to deal with as well. For one thing, he did not receive his proper Nom de Guerre until the beginning of the last century. The other names were vastly silly, for the most part, although one of them had a certain majesty in its tortuous windings: Dynamosaurus imperious. That’s almost too over the top.
Then there was the huge field argument that erupted only a decade or so ago about fossils showing triceratops mingling to oddly large numbers with either baby protoceratops or even an interesting new dwarf species. The opposition’s theories had the advantage of simplicity; they claimed that the “protoceratops” mingling with the much bigger three-horned monsters was due to the smaller fossilized remains being the triceratops’s offspring. The jury’s still out on whether the first two hypotheses hold water or if Ockham’s razor makes the cut. Scientists aren’t always gracious about abdicating a theory that works well for them; after all, they’re only human.
I can’t disparage them, though; I’m still trying to wrap my mind around around the feathered therapods.