Even if you aren't a paleontologist, you probably know certain dinosaurs: the T-Rex, the Velociraptor, the Triceratops, etc. But you likely never learned about Dracorex Hogwartsia, one of the most fascinating dino discoveries in recent years. For starters, this Harry Potter dinosaur got his name from a discoverer who loved J.K. Rowling's massively popular book series. The crown of horns adorning Dracorex's head makes its appearance resemble that of a real-life dragon. In fact, Dracorex's dragon-like appearance caused many a dinosaur conspiracy that he may provide a link between the reptiles of old with the dragons of legend. Regardless, the "dragon king" as his name implies, occupies a unique place in evolutionary history, becoming another amazing extinct animal you just want to know more about.
If you want to catch a glimpse of this guy, visit the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where the 10-foot reptile's skull stands atop an artificial skeleton. Though the rest of his frame remains lost to time, the Dracorex on display here was only a juvenile, meaning his adult form would likely be much, much bigger. He may be 66 million years old, but his head holds up quite well, allowing children and scientists alike to be further mesmerized by his entirely novel appearance.
Paleontologist Robert Bakker is an avid fan of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. So, naturally, he decided to name this newly found fossil after the famous school for witchcraft and wizardry presented in the books. J.K. Rowling, whose influence knows no bounds, called the dino's christening a “most unexpected honor.”
This fossil represents the first time in history a children’s museum received the right to name a fossil, and thankfully they went for a most enchanting moniker.
While this fossil’s last name stems from a fictional institution of wizardry, its first name is identifiably Latin. In Latin, the term "Dracorex" combines the words for "dragon" and "king" into one word meaning "dragon king". When the first and last names read together, you get a combination of an ancient tongue, a fictional universe and a really cool phrase: Dragon King of Hogwarts.
Kinda makes you want to pick up your wand and embark on a wild adventure, doesn't it?
In-depth descriptions of this dragon-like beast rival those in high fantasy adventures. Its skeletal remains tell the tale of one heavily armored, prehistoric animal, believed to have been about ten feet long in stature, a lengthy menace covered in spikes.
Interestingly enough, the necks of these ancient monstrosities likely contained anti-twist joints, for maximum head butting potential. Ouch!
Don’t ever doubt an amateur explorer’s abilities. Much like amateur spelunkers, amateur paleontologists unearth incredible discoveries all the time. The discovery of Dracorex occurred in 2003 when Dr. Patrick Saulsbury along with his brother Steve and close compatriot Brian Buckmeier spotted a skull sticking out of the ground during an amateur excavation.
Amazingly enough, this isn’t even their first or only discovery! In a riveting retelling of the scenario, Dr. Saulsbury looks back fondly on a separate event in South Dakota where he unearthed an Edmontosaurus femur. All of this is as a side hobby to working his tail off as a doctor in a hospital. Some people really deserve more credit for the leaps and bounds they make in the science world.