I recently received a letter from Dr. Daniel Snyder, a paleontologist from Knox College, who wanted to share some theories on handling dromeosaurids:
I have recently been introduced to your Web comic, and I write in great admiration. You have a keen mind and wit, as well as the artistic ability to convey them to the reader (me). Thank you, and keep up the efforts!
I notice that many of your comics revolve around people (including yourself) with a phobia of Velociraptor. This phobia revolves around Velociraptor overcoming some 70 million years of extinction and the geographic barriers between its home and yours, leaping out of the underbrush and/or through the kitchen, and doing unmentionable things to your innards with its teeth and claws.
I see little point in addressing the substance of your fears, as that’s perhaps best to someone more qualified to deal with the human mind. I hold a Ph. D. in vertebrate paleontology and am somewhat more qualified to address the symptoms. To wit, I would like to help you overcome your fears by successfully defending yourself against Velociraptor.
It is widely known in the field of agronomy (e.g., Avery, 2002) that birds are repulsed by methyl anthranilate, a natural compound found in many of the less sweet fruit varieties. Methyl anthranilate has been used (with some success) as a bird repellent on crops. Now, we know (e.g., Gauthier et al., 1988) that modern birds are descended from dinosaurian ancestors, of which one close relative was Velociraptor (ibid.). Much as lab rats respond to drugs like humans, it is entirely possible that Velociraptor will respond to methyl anthranilate as does the common crow or European starling.
Thus, I recommend you carry around a loaded SuperSoaker filled with Concord grape juice. Fresh-squeezed would be ideal, but from concentrate should be effective as well. This will not only have the theoretical asset of protecting you from Velociraptor, it will have the pragmatic asset of protecting you from thirst.
In appreciation of your Web comic efforts, I will happily waive my consultation fee.
Avery, M. L., 2002. Avian repellents. Pages 122-128 in J. R. Plimmer (ed), Encyclopedia of Agrochemicals. Volume 1. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA.
Gauthier, J., A. G. Kluge, and T. Rowe. 1988. Amniote phylogeny and the importance of fossils. Cladistics-the International Journal of the Willi Hennig Society, 4, pp.105-209.
Daniel Snyder, PhD
And this makes me think of the can of shark repellent in that Batman movie. Maybe it wasn’t such a silly approach after all …
edit: By the way, as in all my comics, you can just read ‘velociraptor’ as referring not to the beagle-sized dinosaur, but rather as a generic term for whichever dromeosaurid most closely resembles the Jurassic Park animals.Â That is, something between a deinonychus and a utahraptor.