A cartoon of Diplodocus from Simpson’s letter. The accompanying text reads (starting at the head); Diplodocus longus; CRANIUM, or to use the technical term, BEAN; Beaming Orbs; Neck like a tail; The Rest of Him (or Her as the case may be); Diplodocus tootsies; Relative size of a man (Homo sap) of relative size; Irregularity due to being dropped by nurse in infirmary; Tail like a neck; (From a late Jurassic Tintype).

Earlier today I reviewed Oliver Hay’s ideas about the habits and posture of Diplodocus, and being that today was already history-heavy I thought it fitting to put up a poem by G.G. Simpson about the same animal. While studying Mesozoic mammals in London in 1927, Simpson included a poem about Diplodocus (and the cartoon reproduced above) in a letter to his mother;

Oh! Thou imbecile reptile Diplodocus!
Whoever created so odd a cuss?
With a tail like a neck,
And a neck like a tail–
I wonder, by heck,
If you ever do fail
To remember your ends,
And when danger impends
Do stand still, which is bad, or, still more, run tail first,
Or indeed run both ways, which is rather worst!

The letter is collected with other letters from Simpson to his family in the book Simple Curiosity, and both the poem and cartoon are again reproduced in the introduction to the book The Sauropods (freely available online here).


  1. #1 Amanda
    April 4, 2008

    I’ve been looking for that cartoon for a while now! It’s hysterical!

    I first saw it in “The Sauropods.”

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