Students name baby dinosaurs at SIU

Seventh graders name SIU dino

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Dinosaur siblings at Southern Illinois University have new names thanks to a school in northern Illinois.

A clutch of three Protoceratops is now named Sachi, Ido and Ulla. They’re displayed with their mother, Nanu at SIU’s Parkinson Laboratory at the Department of Geology.

Seventh graders at Trinity Oaks Christian Academy in Cary, a Chicago suburb, won a contest put on by the University’s STEM Education Research Center, the Geology Program in the School of Earth Systems and Sustainability and the College of Science. The contest asked K-12 schools to suggest names for the three, which were then voted on by SIU students.

The seventh grade students won $400 worth of classroom materials and a $100 pizza party.

Finishing second and third were the fourth through eighth grade REACH students at Desoto Grade School and biology students at Waterloo High School. They will receive $300 and $150 worth of classroom materials, respectively.

A baby protoceratops on display at SIU’s Parkinson Laboratory. SIU students recently voted on the names after receiving dozens of suggestions from K-12 students around the state. (Source: Russell Bailey/SIU)
A baby protoceratops on display at SIU’s Parkinson Laboratory. SIU students recently voted on the names after receiving dozens of suggestions from K-12 students around the state. (Source: Russell Bailey/SIU) (Source: Southern Illinois University)

All the names suggested by the K-12 students weren’t made up or pulled out of thin air. Each has a special meaning.

Of the winning entries: “Sachi” means “blessed child,” “Ido” means “work” or “labor” and “Ulla” means “Powerful and prosperous."

According to the University, the words are of Egyptian origin, like their mother’s name, and together their initials spell out “SIU.”

Nanu and her clutch are Proceratops who lived about 70 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. They ate plants and lived in large herds for protection from meat-eaters such as Velociraptors.

A baby protoceratops on display at SIU’s Parkinson Laboratory. SIU students recently voted on the names after receiving dozens of suggestions from K-12 students around the state. (Source: Russell Bailey/SIU)
A baby protoceratops on display at SIU’s Parkinson Laboratory. SIU students recently voted on the names after receiving dozens of suggestions from K-12 students around the state. (Source: Russell Bailey/SIU) (Source: Southern Illinois University)

SIU got the dinosaur that would later be named Nanu in the fall of 2016. After surveying the entire student body, which came up with more than 800 name suggestions, the department culled the names down to six before putting it to a vote.

SIU students chose Nanu, an Egyptian name meaning “beautiful." Her clutch arrived in spring 2017.

According to the University, all four dinosaurs are not actually bones, but casts made from the actual bones. The real bones are at least 65 million years old, Ken Anderson said, and too fragile for continuous display.

Anderson, professor in the geology degree program and an organizer of the contest, said the display showing mother and babies in a natural environment, found in a glass case in the geology building, is popular and powerful.

“Nanu and the hatchlings are a great way to get kids excited about Earth science,” he said. “Maybe for a few of them, that curiosity will last and they’ll go on and eventually become Earth science professionals."

Anderson praised the many entries the university received.

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