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The Thagomizer

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This Far Side cartoon marks the first use of the term Thagomizer, which is now the accepted term for the spikes on a stegosaurus's tail.

From Wikipedia:

A thagomizer is the distinctive arrangement of four to ten spikes on the tails of stegosaurid dinosaurs. These spikes are believed to have been a defensive measure against predators.

The arrangement of spikes originally had no distinct name; the term thagomizer was coined in 1982 by cartoonist Gary Larson in his comic The Far Side, and thereafter became gradually adopted as an informal term within scientific circles, research, and education.

. . .


The term thagomizer was coined by Gary Larson in jest. In a 1982 The Far Side comic, a group of cavemen in a faux-modern lecture hall are taught by their caveman professor that the spikes on a stegosaur's tail are so named "after the late Thag Simmons".

The term was picked up initially by Ken Carpenter, a paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who used the term when describing a fossil at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting in 1993. Thagomizer has since been adopted as an informal anatomical term, and is used by the Smithsonian Institution, the Dinosaur National Monument, the book "The Complete Dinosaur" and the BBC documentary series "Planet Dinosaur."

The original cartoon is intended as lighthearted farce, as stegosaurs and humans did not exist in the same era; humans evolved around 60 million years after the event that killed all non-avian dinosaurs, and some 120 million years after stegosaurids went extinct. In "The Prehistory of the Far Side," Gary Larson suggests that "there should be cartoon confessionals where we could go and say things like, 'Father, I have sinned – I have drawn dinosaurs and hominids together in the same cartoon.'"

[Mischka here - Incidentally, the Stegosaurus lived during the late Jurassic Period, so it actually could have appeared in the Jurassic Park franchise, along with all those other Cretaceous animals.)
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You can get 4 different cartoons each day.


First ones free.


Thank you, Hippo. We are indebted to you.


Perfect! You are a prince!


Daily cartoon fix for parsons and persons (and ponies) suffering LWS (Larson Withdrawal Syndrome), @ParsonWayne, @Mischka.


It is, but some of their needs are rather simple, meteor insurance say.


@Surreal-Heidi, you are right about that!

@msbonne, it's probably hard to negotiate with any dinosaur union, because when they ask for a lot, it's a whole heck of a lot.

@ParsonWayne, I miss it, too!


Gary Larson was one of my favorite cartoonists. I miss The Far Side. Thanks for posting it, Fiona.


How many other things out there have been said in jest and are now common words spoken in todays vocabulary. Love Gary Larson and the Far Side. dj


They love to volunteer to clean up food messes.


The dogs are good with that.


I bet it does, but it's not a neat, tidy job.


But does the thagomizer open a can of dog food?


This is one of the most famous individual cartoons in history.
Never fails to crack me up, too.


Of course. It IS!


Your science seems impeccable.


To answer your question - Yes.

They are nearly equal, yet the one that has worked out (eaten) the most has the edge at any given time.


You have a princely sense of empathy, sir.


Poor old Thog. At least his name lives on...


Ohh! Well, that's a fascinating almost-lost episode from history!

We can all learn much more from you, King Sloth. I presume you were the go-between or negotiator, since you, fortunately, speak the ancient languages?

Can you tell us which had the mightier jaw strength, T. Rex or The Megaladon - because I've heard both of them given that honor.


The Stegosaurus union wanted too much to appear, and they refused to accept anything but their demand. The producers said no, and they were left out of the films.

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