BSU researcher has dinosaur named after her

Credit: KTVB

Celina Suarez and BSU professor Matt Kohn


by Mike Kehoe


Posted on February 10, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 5:14 PM

BOISE -- It's not every day that a new species of animal is discovered.  It is even more rare if that animal happens to be a dinosaur.

A researcher now at Boise State University not only made the prehistoric find with her sister, the species has even been named after them.

Celina Suarez is hoping to make another name, this time for Boise State's geochemistry department.

"There are about 700 named species of dinosaurs," said Celina Suarez.

Celina Suarez and her identical twin Marina were just 23 years old when they made their rare discovery at a dinosaur excavation site in Utah back in 2004.

"When I made it down there we found a bunch of bones sticking out of the side of the hill," said Suarez.

Within the last year it was confirmed that the bones were unlike any ever seen -- a new species of dinosaur.

"It was a lot older than most troodontids found, so this was the oldest Cretaceous Troodontid and the furthest south found in North America," said Suarez.

In more common terms -- it's a two-legged meat-eating dinosaur -- similar to the Velosaur Raptor featured in the movie "Jurassic Park," but smaller with tinier teeth.

"By looking at the dinosaur compositions we can actually figure out what we might be headed for," said BSU geochemistry professor Matt Kohn.

Kohn will work with Suarez for the next two years, studying how fossils develop over time.

They are hoping to unlock possible clues about what the world's climate may be like by 2100.

"The descriptions are that we haven't seen on earth like that in as much as 50 million years, and maybe even 100 million years ago when dinosaurs were walking around," said Kohn.

And one clue might come from Utah where a type of dinosaur remained unknown for eons.  That is until Suarez came around.

"It's one of those things you can check off your list.  Find new dinosaur.  Check," said Suarez.

The official scientific name of the dinosaur that Celina and her sister discovered is Geminiraptor suarezarum.

Gemini is latin for twins.  Suarez is the girls' last name.

According to BSU, only a handful of people in history have their name attached to a dinosaur.