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Scientists may not often be thought of as comedians, but a recent find by a group of paleontologists looking at extinct creatures from Southeast Asia proves that some in the profession do sometimes have a sense of humor. When the group of paleontologists came across a 40-million-year-old extinct lizard of grandiose proportion, they fittingly dubbed the creature Barbaturex morrisoni, in honor of, The Doors’ lead singer, Jim Morrison, who was famed for digging reptiles in his lifetime.
At over 6-feet long and weighing in at up to 60 pounds, the Barbaturex morrisoni was a pretty big bugger. Since Morrison has long been known as “The Lizard King,” it’s fitting that the large lizard was named after Morrison, who also wrote poems about lizards and spoke quite fondly about the creatures. According to USA Today, the lead researcher on the project, Jason Head, says the inspiration for the name came from his eclectic musical taste.
“I was listening to The Doors quite a bit during the research. Some of their musical imagery includes reptiles and ancient places, and Jim Morrison was of course The Lizard King, so it all kind of came together."
The now-extinct lizard may have gained prominence thanks to its unusual name, but there’s plenty more that is interesting about the hefty creature. First and foremost, it roamed the Earth at a time when there may not have been any ice at its pole. Additionally,Barbaturex means “bearded king,” and while humans capably rid themselves of beards in warm weather, the lizard was a creature that thrived in warm, swampy areas. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B and the full text is Open Access, for those who are interested in learning more about the species.