ITHACA, NY – The Museum of the Earth in Ithaca is welcoming a new exhibit — a model of a quetzalcoatlus, the largest flying animal in history.

Everything is set for the exhibition, which was transferred from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, except for one little detail — it needs a name. The museum is holding a community competition to pick the best name for the new member of its prehistoric family.

According to Marissa Zuckerman, Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Paleontological Research Institution, over 100 unique names have been suggested.

Here are a few of the favorites from the names we at The Ithaca Voice saw:

  • Soft Quetzal – A delicious food pun. Get it? Bonus points because quetzalcoatlus is a bit of a gangly-looking creature, so it’s not hard to imagine it might comically tangle itself up like a pretzel.
  • Her Ladyship the Baroness of Tweed – How regal! This one loses some points, however, because the nearest place called Tweed is in Ontario, Canada. Why not Baroness of Brooktondale?
  • Dakini  Meaning “Sky Dancer” in Sanskrit, it references a Tibetan Buddhist spirit. Bonus points because Ithaca will soon house a Buddhist library, and also because it sounds like a tasty cocktail.
  • Propertytaxicus  Like a tax bill in Ithaca, quetzalcoatlus is massive, intimidating and a little bit confusing to look at. Bonus points for invoking greek nomenclature like a proper prehistoric creature name.
  • Quetzy McQuetzface  Granted it’s a little on the beak, but just look at the artist rendering below. Look at its face.
Artists rendering of quetzalcoatlus. These pterosaurs lived in North America during the Late Cretacious period. (Image: Mark Witton and Darren Naish via Wikipedia)

Have a better idea? Name submissions are being accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, June 8. Click here to submit a name, or you can do it in person at the Museum of the Earth or Cayuga Nature Center.

The top 10 names from the full list will be voted on by Paleontological Research Institution staff, with the final winner chosen by a special judging panel of selected staff and community members. The winning name will be revealed on July 13.

(Featured photo courtesy of Museum of the Earth’s Facebook page)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.