The Dinosaur Whose Name Kids Can’t Pronounce


I was administering a spelling quiz one day at St. Helena’s School, fifth grade, and I asked the kids if they’d like to tackle a really hard word for extra credit. They were all for it, so I gave them a minute to get ready, then laid it on:


And waddayaknow! None of them got it.

Piatnitzskysaurus was a 20-foot-long carnivorous dinosaur from the Jurassic Period in Argentina. Not many people have heard of it.

We adults are sometimes abashed by the ease with which small children toss around the names of dinosaurs that stymie us grownups. But when I wrote “Piatnitzkysaurus” on the blackboard, these really rather bright children just threw up their hands.

It makes me think of a time long ago when Uncle Bernie was trying to read to me from a dinosaur book and stumbling over the names, none of which he’d ever seen before–but of course I knew them already, even at the age of eight. Oh, he had a devil of a time with Ramphorhynchus! I remember it kept coming out as “Rumpadykus.” But he meant well, and for me it will remain a fond memory.

So the next time a little kid tries to show off at your expense by throwing around the names of dinosaurs, fire back with Piatnitzkysaurus. He or she will be in awe of you.