Knopfler 'Delighted' To Be Dinosaur Rocker

Paleontologists, inspired by Dire Straits music played at their dig, name newly discovered reptile species after bandleader.

It's not uncommon for a veteran rocker to be called a dinosaur. But in a new twist, a 70-million-year-old dinosaur is being called a veteran rocker — specifically, ex-Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler.

A consortium of paleontologists from State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of Utah found the Dire Straits songbook — which includes such hits as "Sultans of Swing" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Money for Nothing" (RealAudio excerpt) — so inspiring during their dig that they named a newly discovered species of dinosaur after Knopfler, the band's singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Masiakasaurus knopfleri walked the Earth as a six-foot long carnivore with protruding teeth — a unique feature, as far as dinosaurs go. Those teeth were likely employed to capture prey, while a set of teeth behind the front set were used to rend the captured prey limb from limb.

The team found the remains of the reptile — which was roughly the size of a German shepherd — in Madagascar. Dire Straits songs were played perpetually at the excavation site, according to Reuters.

"As a result of that we decided what better way to honor Knopfler than to name a dinosaur after him. If it weren't for his music we might not have found the animal in the first place,'' expedition leader Scott Sampson told the news service.

Knopfler was "delighted" to be the fossil's eponym, he said in a statement to the press. "It's a very special honor. The fact that it's a dinosaur is certainly apt, but I'm happy to report that I'm not in the least bit vicious."

Knopfler's Sailing to Philadelphia, a record that can also be said to be not in the least bit vicious, was released last year. A North American tour is in the planning stages, according to Knopfler's publicist.