“When we dug up the first lower jaw bone, we weren’t even sure it belonged to a dinosaur.”

Mark Knopfler and Dinosaurs

Miles/February 24, 2013

Let us introduce you to one incredibly talented man, his name is Mark Knopfler. Mark was born in 1949 in Britain, and immediately fell in love with the guitar, an instrument that he could play quite well from an early age. When he was 28, along with his brother, he co-founded Dire Straits, where he was best known as their lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Soon Dire Straits would begin to tour along side Talking Heads after their first hit single, “Sultans of Swing” finally started to climb the UK charts. So what does Mark Knopfler have to do with dinosaurs, we’ll get to that.


Mark was the dude though, with his trademark headband and usual colorful shirts, he was the ideal front man. No matter what he wore, his guitar skills set him apart like no other. In the league of extraordinary guitarist (Hendrix, Vaughan, Clapton) that have graced (and still grace) the earth, many easily argue that Mark is included. In fact, Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest guitarist of all time, lists him at a 27.

Following Dire Straits tour with Talking Heads, they embarked on their first North American tour and guess what, they played 51 sold-out concerts over a 38-day period. Not too bad huh? Sultan’s of Swing also caught the eye of Bob Dylan, who invited Mark and drummer Pick Withers to play on his next album, Slow Train Coming.

The 1980s gave way to even more success to the band. With their 1985 release of Brothers In Arms and the hit single, Money for Nothing, Dire Straits were showing now signs of slowing down. Released in May 1985, Brothers In Arms entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1 and spent a total of 228 weeks in the charts. It went on to become the best-selling album of 1985 in the UK. Brothers in Arms was similarly successful in the US, peaking at No. 1 on Billboard 200 for nine weeks, going multi-platinum, selling nine million copies.

dire straits - brothers in arms - 1996 (front)

Brothers in Arms was among the first albums recorded on digital equipment due to Knopfler pushing for improved sound quality. The album’s title track is reported to be the world’s first CD single. It was issued in the UK as a promotional item distinguished with a logo for the tour, Live in ’85, while a second to commemorate the Australian leg of the tour marked Live in ’86. Containing just four tracks, it had a very limited run. “Walk of Life” meanwhile was nearly excluded from the album when co-producer Neil Dorfsman voted against its inclusion, but the band members out-voted him. The result was Dire Straits’ most commercially successful hit single in the UK, peaking at number two. “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life”, and “Brothers in Arms” immediately became live concert favorites.


So what does this British rock group have to do with dinosaurs? It just so happens that paleontologist Scott Sampson, along with his team, happened to be on the island of Madagascar and listening to quite a lot of Dire Straits when they stumbled upon some bones. “When we dug up the first lower jaw bone, we weren’t even sure it belonged to a dinosaur,” said Sampson. They had discovered the Masiakasaurus knopfleri, a small, carnivorous dinosaur weighing in around 80 pounds.

The name of the new dinosaur is derived from masiaka, the Malagasy word for “vicious” and sauros, which is Greek for “lizard.” Knopfleri honors musician Mark Knopfler, lead singer of Dire Straits. The scientists credit Knopfler’s music as a lucky charm; it seemed that many of their most important discoveries were made whenever they were listening to his songs. –National Geographic



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