Help name SIU’s dinosaur


A dinosaur cast resembling 70-million-year-old fossils sits on display Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in the main lobby of Browne Auditorium near the south entrance. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

By Zachary Shaw

The university’s geology department is asking students to help name the dinosaur cast that has been on display in Browne Auditorium since summer.

Bragging rights and a $50 scholarship are offered to whoever submits the winning name for the Protoceratops, a herbivore that commonly inhabited Western Asia 70 million years ago. The geology department launched the contest Wednesday on Desire 2 Learn, the university’s online learning platform.

Scott Ishman, a paleontologist and professor of geology, said the idea to have it named had been brewing for awhile, so the contest was conceived as a way to get students interested in both the dinosaur and the geology department.


“It seems to have worked,” he said. “In the first hour over 300 submissions had come in, and they are still coming in.”

The six-foot-long Protoceratops is thought to be female, and would have weighed roughly 400 pounds during its life, according to a report written by Ken Anderson, a professor of geology.

The cast, made from a synthetic resin and manufactured in St. Louis, is a “an exact duplicate” of the 70-million-year-old skeleton, according to Anderson’s report. In an interview, Anderson said the fossils were collected roughly a decade ago and are in the hands of a private collector.

Anderson is reviewing the naming process and expects to announce a winner within the week.

“We get everything from well thought out answers to the hysterical and off-beat answers,” he said. “We will wait a few more days, and then pick the top five or six and choose from those answers.”

Zachary Shaw can be reached at [email protected], 618-536-3325 or on Twitter @zlshaw

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