Over a round of beers, Yale paleontologist Nicholas Longrich came up with an unconventional name for the dinosaur species he discovered: “Mojoceratops.”
Longich, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, officially dubbed the creature “Mojoceratops perifania” with the publication of his paper in the Journal of Paleontology on Thursday, according to a press release from the Office of Public Affairs. After looking up the word “mojo,” which refers to a spell in African American folk culture commonly used to boost sex appeal, Longrich said the dinosaur’s name was apt since the heart-shaped frill on its head was probably used to attract mates.
While studying the dinosaur fossil collection at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 2008, Longrich noticed a skull with a distinctive frill that matched the skull of a specimen thought to be in the species Chasmosaurus. Upon further investigation, Longrich realized the skull was not a Chasmosaurus, but a new species. Although other dinosaurs in the chasmosaurine ceratopsid family also have frills, Mojoceratops’ frills are the most conspicuously heart-shaped.
“You’re supposed to use Latin and Greek names, but this just seemed more fun,” Longrich said in the press release. “You can do good science and still have some fun, too. So why not?”