Velociraptor Safety

I recently received a letter from Dr. Daniel Snyder, a paleontologist from Knox College, who wanted to share some theories on handling dromeosaurids:

Dear sir,

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
Knox College


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.  That is, something between a deinonychus and a utahraptor.

198 replies on “Velociraptor Safety”

  1. Re For More Info’s ‘But why CONCORD grape juice?…’: Concord grapes are sour. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Concord grapes sold at retail — because no one would want to eat them. Lots of sweetener have to be added to make their juice drinkable. The sugary stuff wouldn’t diminish the methyl anthranilate content, but it might make the juice attractive to who knows what…maybe even reptiles.

    As for gwydion’s parrots (‘My only concern is that, I have four parrots, and frankly, they love grapes.’): Do they love unsweetened _sour_ grapes ? But then, parrots are mostly insane anyway.


  2. Actually, there actually is canned shark repellent. The guy from Discovery’s “Dirty Jobs” did a segment where he worked with the guys developing it, and then tested it with them. It worked remarkably well, sharks ran for their lives. The secret is the stench of other dead sharks.


  3. And and…

    How about *fermented* grape juice? And consecrated! Holy wine!

    That way you can:
    a) scare off velociraptors
    b) fight thirst
    c) get merrily drunk
    d) fight off vampires!

    Wow, i’d never thought holy wine was on the same awesomeness level as duct tape!

    I stand in awe at this result of the world’s greatest minds.

    Now granted, point c) might interfere with a) and d). I’ll have to think about that…


  4. […] 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. […]


  5. It’s not just physicists and paleontologists who have read the whole comic through from the beginning, after learning about it. Add one Electrical Engineer and one German Studies/Math major to the mix… who used to study EE. Heh.


  6. Count me among those who backtracked through the entire archives. I think I read them all in a night. And, I’m a Graphic Designer / Leathercrafter / Not-So-Closeted Math and Geology Geek. Since the assorted geekery is only my avocation and not my job, I am not sure if that makes me more or less geeky. Maybe I will use my Philosophy degree to create a hypothetical comparison to myself. In the event that doing so doesn’t cause me to simply cease to exist, I might get an answer.


  7. “This entry was posted on Sunday, March 4th, 2007 at 2:11 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.”
    How is it posible that a serious blag as this one doesn’t have a Velocipator category??


  8. But what if you get really thirsty, and you drink the super soaker full of grape juice, and before you manage to get to the store again, the velociraptor strikes?!


  9. I just discovered this webcomic (like, today) and am in the process of reading them all from the beginning…. so soon, you’ll be able to add another Vertebrate Paleontologist to the list of those who’ve read the comic all the way through.

    Interestingly, the OTHER paleontologist who’s read through this whole comic, none other than Dr. Dan Snyder himself, is a friend of mine–we went to grad school together. Dr. Snyder works on fossil fish and has a predilection for anime. If he IS a velociraptor (and it honestly wouldn’t be that good of a disguise–sorry Dan), then I propose a test to detect potential velociraptors in disguise: see if you can distract them with fossil fish and/or anime. Or you could simply squirt them with grapejuice.


  10. I would think that the best way of determining whether or not someone is a dinsoaur in disguise would be to use the aforementioned “Internet Human Test” from a previous comic. The question would, of course, have to be changed – dinosaurs will obviously feel sad at the loss of one of their own.


  11. What a cool guy. When I make it big I want to write letters like that just for kicks.


  12. Why bother with ‘from concentrate’? Just thaw out the concentrate filter out as much pulp you can (for the health of the super-soaker) and load THAT up. it may be a bit viscous to use exactly like that, but I’m sure that, over time, an ideal water-concentrate’ mix. Charts could be devised giving viscosity to distance ratios allowing people to use the ideal mixture for the maximum distance they would need to shoot withing their home.

    …I’m not expert on super-soakers, dromeosaurid, birds, nor the making of alcahol, but it would seem to me that the super-soaker would allow (albeit, very gradually) the release of gasses from the unit without letting air in. This would mean that leaving grape juice inside of a super-soaker over an extended period of time could result in (crappy) wine. Assuming this is the case and knowing how poor the livers of birds are compared to humans you may be creating a sort of 1-2 punch. However I’d be willing to bet that the livers of dromeosaurid are significatly better than the chicadees that would get drunk by eating the berries off of the tree in my old back yard. So, now I’d conjecture that we’d merely be dealing with drunk dromeosaurids. Maybe easier to avoid and trick, but also likely to not be affected as greatly by the methyl anthranilate.

    So, in short, make sure you empty, clean and refill your super-soaker regularly

    According to wikipedia, here are som alternative sources of methyl anthranilate:
    …naturally occurs in the Concord grapes, and in bergamot, champaca, gardenia, jasmine, lemon, mandarin, neroli, oranges, rue oil, strawberry, tuberose, and ylang ylang. It is used for flavoring of candy, soft drinks (eg. grape soda), gums, and drugs.

    …the grape soda might serve better in some situations: could explode on impact (once properly shaken), and a small hole can be punctured in the rivet holding the opener in place which would allow for a steady stream to spray out. Basically I’m arguing that it’s pre-compressed and won’t require ‘pumping’ before you can use it as a means of defense.


  13. Xtreme Killer Clawed Dinosaurs

    I saw Jurassic Park when I was 7. Raptors terrified me. So thank you.


  14. I fell in a vat of Concord grape juice when I was 6. Ever since, I have enjoyed a peculiar invulnerability to velociraptor attacks. I can also comfortably carry large menhirs.


  15. I read it straight through, from end to beginning. 😀
    French major here, music and religion minor.
    It was a rollercoaster of emotion. With my box of hankies on hand, I felt a great cartharsis in the endevor. 🙂


  16. Thanks to Dr. Snyder, I am safe from those darn velociraptors for one more day, and many more to come! I hope I can afford the purchase of all that Concord grape juice though…


  17. I love it when people have fun with academics. You cannot place too much worth in enjoying your field of study.


  18. First Stephen Colbert speaks at our commencement, and now our professors are sending email to xkcd! This school practically pays for itself 🙂

    -A long-time devoted fan of xkcd and [now] proud[er] student of Knox College


  19. This is the ultimate in nerdery. And I LOVE it. The second I see someone carrying a supersoaker with concord grape juice in it to fend off velociraptors, I will marry them on the spot.

    Also, add an anthropology major to your list of folks who have read through the archives. On the most recent comic I kept clicking the “next” button in the vain hope that I just hadn’t clicked it enough, rather than face the depressing reality: that is, that I had run out of comic. 😦


  20. this time through college? double major journalism/poly-sci, minor in religion
    i have a plan to take over the world 😉

    i have read the entire archive twice.

    and have long been addicted to grape juice. now i know why!


  21. This Private First Class has not only read all of xkcd, but has read it to fellow soldiers with disastrous results.


  22. To Brad: as a dedicated reader of XKCD and a philosophy doctoral candidate, I can tell you, alas, that you cannot protect yourself from existentialists with wine. What you have to do is simply ignore them. Pretend they don’t exist.

    Or, if that doesn’t work, start explaining set-theoretical logic or confront them with possible worlds modal problems. Be sure to have a white board handy and use as much symbolic notation as you can muster. Works every time.


  23. I’m also a big fan of your comics, but I had never visited your lovely blag until today. As a student of Knox College, a very small liberal arts school in bumfuck, Illinois–I was quite surprised to see that you mentioned Prof. Snyder here.

    I can assure you that he is not a velociraptor.

    I suppose, then, that I have no way of proving to you that we both aren’t prehistoric creatures joined together to bring you to your demise. All I have is my email address, but I suppose one could argue from visiting our website that we are an educational institution full of velociraptors and we have a really good PR department that can convince all the unsuspecting high school students who apply here otherwise.


  24. Why does it not surprise me that a Knox prof. writes something like that?
    Anyway. Found your comic just recently, and I had to read through the archives… and laugh until I cried… and wondered why come of the comics aren’t on T-shirts… Anyway! Great stuff.

    People at Knox are crazy. I should know since I got my BS there. And while I think I would have heard about a raptor in the faculty, it really wouldn’t surprise me all that much (except that raptors usually don’t talk… I say this as if I’ve seen a velociraptor…)

    Side note: The name of the city isn’t really “Bumfuck”. It’s Galesburg.


  25. ohhh man there is so much awesome on this [age my brain can’t handle it!!!

    first time i’ve been on the forums here, after ages of reading and appreciating your comic (and the dinosaur comics you make reference to as well!!!)


  26. Wow! I’m not sure that velociraptors would be as afraid of methyl anthralinate as birds… Are we doomed? Which will kill us? Zombies or velociraptors? What about zombie velociraptors? There’s a thing about that at, though…


  27. oh forget it I and killer rule and I will eat you up!

    ps.velociraptors will rule the world ha ha ha ha we are goodies


  28. [RTG Says:

    March 6th, 2007 at 10:17 am
    The prospect of this development of anti-raptor technologies (i.e. grapejuice) is too intriguing to ignore. However, how can we possibly feel safe with a mere possibility of protection? Should this technique fail, we will be defenselesss.

    We have therefore begun to bioengineer various raptor species, in a controlled environment, so that we can test the effectiveness of various grape juices.

    Everything here is super-safe. What’s the worst that could possibly happen?]

    RTG, that is a very, very, very, very, VERY bad idea. The raptors could escape captivity, and we would be doomed. Ever seen Jurassic Park?
    There might be a power failure, downing the electric fences (if there are any), enabling the raptors to escape. ABANDON THE PROJECT!!!


  29. RTG, If you cloned velociraptor, this would add to the population of velociraptor dramatically. Even if ones in captivity were isolated from their free, murderous friends, if they escaped, they could somehow find and join their partners. We do not need more velociraptors in this world.


  30. Have you heard about those new RoboRaptor toys from wowee robotics? What if they rebel and, we do not just have velociraptor in the world. We also have ROBOTIC velociraptors!



  31. I am writing a book on velociraptor safety. It will tell you everything you need to know about the subject. It will be called “The Velociraptor Survival Guide.” Once it is published, you might want to buy it. Try My dad is a writer too, and I plan to follow in his footsteps.


  32. Update: I might even write a sequel to my velociraptor book, except it will be about mosasaur safety. If you do not know what a mosasaur is, look for it online.


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