Longrich’s Got his Mojo Workin’ Finding Dinosaurs


Jay Barrett/KMXT

100803.mojoceratops.jpg A former Kodiak man recently discovered and named his fourth dinosaur species, but he says he’s no where near done. KMXT’s Jay Barrett talked with Nick Longrich as the Yale post-doctoral associate was headed to Canada on a fossil-hunting expedition, and files this report.

Dinosaur hunters are often viewed as serious folks sweltering away in the Gobi Desert, chipping fossilized bones from rocky cliffs. Kodiak’s Nick Longrich, a 1994 KHS graduate, mostly discovers new dinosaurs in the basement storerooms of museums. He has recently identified and named a third new kind of dinosaur that way: a four-legged, plant-eating dinosaur with a large, bony collar. He named it a "mojo-ceratops."

(Mojo 1 31 sec "Yeah, it’s got the big frill … run if it came at you, definitely.")

Longrich found the bones mislabeled in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He told the New York Times that he came up with the name "mojo-ceratops" while out with some friends:

(Mojo 2 9 sec "I didn’t start with the reasoning … quite fortuitous here.")

"Mojo," is defined as a magic spell, often used for attracting love. Longrich says the name actually fits, as he thinks the frilly collar on the mojo-ceretops was for attracting mates.

Longrich discovered his first dinosaur in a tray of fossils which hadn’t yet been identified. He named it Albertonykus Borealis (Alberto-nye-cuss bore-ee-al’iss). He’s named two others, the Hesperonychus (hess-per-oh nye-cuss), also found on a shelf, and the Texacephale (tex-ah-ceph-a-lee), which he and a friend discovered in the field.

(Mojo 3 30 sec "Hesperonychus is a pretty cool … proud of Hesperonychus.")

Longrich describes identifying new dinosaurs from already collected or mislabeled bones pretty easy, and thinks there are more waiting to be discovered:

(Mojo 4 16 sec "Oh boy, there’s gotta be … looked at them close enough.")

Longrich is taking a break from combing through the basement shelves of museums, and right now is out in the wilds of the Canadian Arctic looking for fossils:

(Mojo 5 28 sec "We’re headed up to the … got our fingers crossed.")

Though Kodiak has a "Fossil Beach," and Longrich is from here, he says the island is far too young to house dinosaur fossils. But, he says if we look hard enough we could find an extinct tusked mammal called Desmostylians (desmo-still-ee-ons), which he described as a cross between a hippo and a sea cow.

I’m Jay Barrett.


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