An annoying dinosaur
Very little has inspired so many questions and so much wonder than dinosaur fossils. From evolution to fiction books, they have crawled, thundered, and stomped into most corners of our society - it will most likely take another mass extinction to remove them from those corners.
But not all discoveries are so wondrous and magnificent, some are downright irritating - as is the case of the unfortunately named Irritator challengeri or simply Irritator.
In the 1990s paleontologist, Rupert Wild came across an interesting find on the market. A well-preserved skull, encased in plaster with only a fraction of the nose visible. His excitement grew when he realised the skull was possibly found in the Chapada do Araripe region, known for its Pterosaurs - a flying dinosaur species.
Eager he bought it and sent it off to the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart in Germany. His colleagues after examining the parts that were visible all agreed it must be some sort of Pterosuars. However, others believed it was instead a large meat-eater.
The debate raged, but upon even closer examination, they discovered the skull was, in fact, faked. At least partly faked.
Whoever had dug up the skull had decided to add some embellishments to make it more appealing. Parts of the skull were glued together, others dipped in acid to make it look better, and even part of the nose had been completely faked.
The paleontologists had a grueling job ahead of them. They'd have to clean the now damaged skull. But something else was about to come to light.
As they were cleaning the skull, they did some extra digging to find out who had sent them the skull. Turns out, the skull had been illegally exported from Brazil.
According to sources, it was discovered in the Santana do Cariri in northeastern Brazil. Brazil at that time had a band against fossil trade which came into effect in 1942. So the fossil was illegally acquired by Wild. Frustrated beyond belief the group worked tirelessly to fix the skull and finally figure out what type of dinosaur it really was.
In 2002, six years after procuring the skull, they finally had an answer. It was a new species, part of the spinosaurid family. A large carnivore species which lightly resembles a crocodile. It had lived during the Early Cretaceous Period, about 110 million years ago. It was, at least, a new species.
But despite their joy at discovering a new species, they couldn't deny that she skull had created some serious problems. So they dubbed it Irritator - in memory of how damned annoying it was to discover. But because paleontologists are not entirely heartless, they added a second name to the type; challengeri - after Professor Challenger from the book The Lost World.
They would see figures wandering the house at night,
The Irritator might not stand next to T-Rex or Spinosaurs as the biggest bad-ass or most epic carnivore of the Mesozoic era. But it certainly is a memorable one in its own right - if not for the right reasons.