Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dan Telfer on "The Best Dinosaur"

My bud Joey hipped me to this comedian dude's comedy act. This is a bit called "The Best Dinosaur." You can watch it right here, but fair warning: the language gets a wee salty.

This has been doing that viral thing over the last few days, partly because nerd-folk are thrilled that a stand up comic knows so much about dinosaurs. He refers to obscure dinosaurs as "deep cuts!" Why, he even knows that pterosaurs and plesiosaurs aren't dinosaurs! As BoingBoing says "Pedantry can be fun!"

The problem? He totally whiffs on a bunch of facts. It's a good bit, really: it takes the scenic route through the Mesozoic to make a self-deprecating joke about how much of a wuss he is. Blogger Elizabeth McQuern, one of Telfer's buds, says that she's been watching as he's refined this joke, and feels it's reached its apex. But brother, you'd better not bring it to the SVP meeting this year. Not in this state. You need to get some facts straight. So I'm going to do you a solid. In other words: you want pedantry, BoingBoing? I got your pedantry right here.

First. T. rex and Giganotosaurus are most certainly not in the same genus. Giganotosaurus isn't even a coelurosaur. So, not particularly closely related.

Second. Spinosaurus was a big dude, no doubt. Could he have mauled anything on the planet? Maybe, when push came to shove. But would he? He was a fish eater. I'd aim your joke in that direction.

Third. Stegosaurus ain't got no "ass brain." Sorry, bro. That's been debunked, and how. And a brain in its stomach? Come on. that's even wronger than wrong.

Fourth. Brontosaurus wasn't a Stegosaurus skull on an Apatosaurus body. It was a mishmash of parts from Camarasaurus skulls. Just say that it had the wrong head.

Fifth. Velociraptor's genus wasn't "raptor." Dude, come on! this is like, fundamental taxonomy! Genus. Species. Velociraptor's genus was... Velociraptor! DUDE COME ON!

Sixth. Brachiosaurus. Ultrasaurus. See previous.

Solve those problems, and it's all good loving. Also, read Monster Isle by the aforementioned Joey!

UPDATE: Telfer explains the joke here and has been defended by Carl Zimmer against "paleo-fact-checkers." I had no idea that it had kicked up such a storm; I figured this little obscure post would be somewhat unique. Once again, I've misunderestimated the cyber-hive.

So I figured I may as well clear a bit up, too. First, that this post itself is a joke. Pedants are much more fun to poke fun at than the people they're correcting, after all. Second, Telfer could have avoided being bombarded by nerd emails by changing a few words in the routine. Like I said, I like the bit. But the good part isn't that he gets stuff wrong.

Ugh. Put a gun to my head.

UPDATE 2: As of March 2011, this humble little post is within the first ten results when "Dan Telfer" is googled. I just want to reiterate that this post was a ham-handed joke. Telfer seems to be a good dude. He's a funny Tweeter. And I kind of hate that this dumb post might be seen as one more jerk piling on the guy. So I'll do what I can and recommend that you purchase his comedy album, Fossil Record. It's also available as a triple-pack, with sets from the reliably funny Paul F. Tomkins and Greg Proops. Yeah, THAT Greg Proops! The guy who did the voice for the two-headed podrace announcer in The Phantom Menace! Savvy?


  1. And the name Brontosaurus wasn't thrown away just because they reconstructed it with the wrong skull. It's because it's the same thing as Apatosaurus, which was named first, and that's all there is to it. The incorrect reconstruction is something else entirely, a result of Camarasaurus having the only well-preserved sauropod skull at the time. Therefore, it was thought that all sauropods had skulls like Camarasaurus.

  2. Yeah, you're right, the head thing really is tangential to the real issue. This dude should do a whole bit on taxonomical nomenclature. That would take him to the top in no time!

  3. Absolutely, most of his mistakes stem from him throwing the word genus around indiscriminately. He also pronounces Giganotosaurus wrong; he says it like "Gigantosaurus".

  4. It turns out the inaccuracies were all part of the joke.

  5. Yeah, that's what I was referring to in the update up there.


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