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I just saw in the news that a new dinosaur species was discovered and its scientific name is Vectaerovenator inopinatus. What exactly does this name actually mean as a Latin word? How should I parse it?

The article says:

Scientists named the dinosaur Vectaerovenator inopinatus -- a name that refers to large air sacs in some of the bones, which are commonly seen in theropods, and which helped the researchers identify the species.

The adjective inopinatus is "unexpected", and that could refer to either the animals behaviour or its discovery. The first part is more puzzling. I can read aero-venator as "air-hunter". If I understood correctly, this was a land-based beast, so the air must refer to its bone structure.

But how should I understand the vect- part and vectaerovenator as a whole? Is it "air-carrying-hunter", referring to how it carries air in its bones? If yes, I find the order of the elements weird. But it is also possible that I misidentified the boundaries between different parts of the word or otherwise misanalyzed it.

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    Or the scientists just drew a dictionary and put stems in the order they felt like putting (which I'm afraid is more usually than not the case)
    – Rafael
    Aug 12 '20 at 19:56
  • @Rafael That's quite likely, I think. That leaves plenty of room for answering different aspects, though: What does it literally mean? What does it apparently try to mean? How should it be modified to be better Latin? Are the problems with this name (whatever they might be) common? Insight into any of them would constitute a nice answer.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 12 '20 at 20:13
  • Maybe the scientists have resorted to coroprate sponsoring for financing their research, and this dinosaur is officially supported by Vectaire brand air extraction solutions ;) Aug 13 '20 at 6:10
  • Bones with airsacks are usually found in flying dinosaurs/ birds/ dragons. This 'outlier' makes use of it for buoyancy.
    – Hugh
    Aug 13 '20 at 20:53
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    FYI it's customary when erecting a new genus or species to give the etymology in the original paper. Which the author of that taxon did: "Derivation of name. Vectis (Latin): referring to the discovery of this new taxon on the Isle of Wight; aero (Greek): ‘air’, referring to its high degree of skeletal pneumaticity; -venator (Latin): meaning hunter. We imagine the name to be pronounced ‘vectair-oh-ven-ah-tor’."
    – plannapus
    Feb 6 at 16:22
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It is enticing to relate Vect- to some form of veho. But I see a link with the Latin name for the Isle of Wight, Vectis, where the dinosaur was found. See also http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3DVectis2

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  • That sounds indeed plausible! Then I guess it would be "the unexpected air-hunter of the Isle of Wight". Do you happen to know other species named after the island? I understood that these were not the first bones found there.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 13 '20 at 8:42
  • dinowight.co.uk has Vectidraco Aug 13 '20 at 8:48
  • Excellent observation, although I would have expected the place name to go into the second part of the name (like Bombus alpinus, Bombus pyrenaeus etc). Aug 13 '20 at 8:56

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