LAST CALL: Knopfler has no bones about paleontological namesake

You've got to feel sorry for those poor old paleontologists. Day after day, picking through earthworms and fossilized KFC remains is bound to get a little tedious after a while.

So a group of said diggers (what is the collective noun for paleontologists? An exhumation, perhaps?) in Madagascar alleviated the tedium by cranking up their jam boxes and listening to 'everything from Elvis to INXS,' said Dr. Scott Sampson from the University of Utah.

The most bones surfaced when they listened to Dire Straits, which is how the Knopflersaurus got its name, after the band's frontman. '(Mark Knopfler) effectively became a talisman for us,' Sampson said.

The small, predatory dinosaur's official name is Masiakasaurus knopfleri, translated 'vicious lizard of Knopfler.' The creature did the 'Walk of Life' on its hind legs and was frighteningly buck-toothed.

The name choice became a PR boon for the dinosaur and the musician, although a few British tabloids asked whether it implies that Knopfler is over the hill or has bad teeth. 'Any PR is good PR,' shrugged Sampson, who spent a week fielding calls from disc jockeys and decidedly unscientific mags such as Rolling Stone.

Knopfler shared Sampson's view of the unexpected PR, sending a note of thanks to the scientists. 'I'm really delighted,' Knopfler wrote. '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.'

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