In a surprising move, the extinct archosaur Hypselorhachis filed an unprecedented post-mortem lawsuit against the National Geographic Society on Friday. The enigmatic Triassic reptile was offended by being mistakenly labeled a “dinosaur” in an article that appeared on the National Geographic Website earlier this week (“Dinosaurs Ten Million Years Older Than Thought” March, 3, 2010 National Geographic News).
The focus of the article was the recent description of another non-dinosaur, Asilisaurus, a close dinosaur relative in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature (Nesbitt et al. 2010 “Ecologically distinct dinosaurian sister group shows early diversification of Ornithodira” Nature 464, 95-98 | doi:10.1038/nature08718).
In a statement released today Hypselorhachis asserts that the passing reference to “an early sail-backed dinosaur” in the caption of an illustration that accompanied the article was, “an underhanded attempt to smear my character and associate me with unsavory elements.”
“I just don’t understand. They could have called me a ‘ctenosauriscid‘ a ‘poposaur‘ a ‘rauisuchian‘ a ‘pseudosuchian‘ a ‘crurotarsan‘ even an ‘archosaur’ without dragging my name through the gutter like this. Hell, I would even have been fine with ‘hellasaur.’ But ‘dinosaur‘? That’s just not right. Someone has to put a stop to this sort of thing.”
The crusade has attracted some surprising allies. Dimetrodon, a sail-backed synapsid from the Permian, has previously accused Hypselorhachis of being an “imposter,” a “total ripoff” and “less-original than Spinosaurus, really.”
Tensions between the two extinct animals flared last summer when Kanye West interrupted Dimetrodon’s acceptance speech at the “Virgin Teen’s Choice Awards” for the category “Best Backbone.” West grabbed the microphone saying, “Congratulations D’meet and I’mma let you finish, but Hypselorhachis had the best elongated neural arches of ALL TIME.”
In spite of the rivalry, Dimetrodon defends the merits of the lawsuit. “As a frequent victim of false-dinosaur defamation, I wholeheartedly support Hypselorhachis on this one. We non-dinosaurs have to stick together.” Dimetrodon says that it will donate the proceeds from sales of its popular T-shirt to the Hypselorhachis legal defense fund.
Several pterosaurs and marine reptiles have also voiced their support for Hypselorhachis. National Geographic was not available for comment.
[um. yeah. sorry.]