Cretaceous mud slinging

In which we ponder whether extinct prehistoric reptiles can sue for libel in the English courts. After all, everybody else can.

Via Frank the Science Punk’s mini-blog, I have just read this shocking story about the well-known dinosaur Tyrannosaurus Rex:

T rex offended

T. rex “mostly ate babies”

(see also the original story in the Independent by noted science journalist Steve “lofty medics” Connor)

Frank suggests that T. rex is clearly in urgent need of a PR agency.

I have a slightly different suggestion.

Since the allegation that T. rex ate babies is clearly injurious to the dinosaur’s reputation, T. rex should engage a good reputation management law firm – a couple of options are  here and here, the latter lot being Matthias Rath’s libel lawyers of choice, though there are plenty of other options too – and file a libel suit in the English courts with all haste.

With any luck, the case will be heard by an eminent legal mind, and this shameful slander upon the reputation of one of our best loved prehistoric carnivores can be shown for the premeditated attempt at (Cretaceous) mud-slinging that it is.

A spokesman for the popular dinosaur and family favourite assured Dr Aust that “sales of T. rex soft toys and other branded merchandise have not been damaged” and that “movie tie-ins are not in danger”, but also said that the dinosaur was “looking into” the question of defending its reputation, if necessary through legal action. Reading a prepared statement, the spokesman added:

“With rights come responsibility and scientists must realise that they cannot simply publish with impunity what they know to be untrue and libellous”

T. rex itself was unavailable for comment.


PS  The paper from which the Independent story derives is in a paleontology journal called Lethaia. The abstract of the paper is here, and here is some background on the debate about what T. rex might have eaten.  I shall look forward to seeing  in due course if blogger and Nature “fossils editor” Henry Gee has anything to say about the “T. rex was a babykiller” story.


17 Responses to “Cretaceous mud slinging”

  1. Svetlana Says:

    Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaahh :D :D :D :D :D :D

    I have NO words and can’t speak at all, because I am lying under table with laughter :D :D :D
    I never laughed so! :D :D :D

    PS. If – what happens, say to all his enemies, that I will be witness in favour of DINOSAUR in any court!!!! :D :D :D

    Here is He:

  2. Nash Says:

    Has T. Rex passed a CRB check?

  3. draust Says:

    Hmm… not sure it needs one unless it is actually working with children or vulnerable adults… I wouldn’t think being a TV favourite or having a soft toy line would count.

    Unless you mean a “Criminal Rex Bureau” check.

  4. Nash Says:

    Are the makers of the vegetable lard bringing an action?

  5. draust Says:

    Hmm. I wonder if the critical full stop means that T.rex and Trex arguably are different words and thus are not subject to confusion or trademark infringement suits?

    Sounds like the kind of question that could keep a lot of lawyers busy. Lucrative things, those full stops.

    You may recall that mediaeval theologians were said to have heated disputes over how many Angels could dance on a pin head… so perhaps modern lawyers are the direct descendants of medieval theologians? One or two of the High Court judges certainly seem to give the impression that they regret that you can’t burn transgressors at the stake any more.

    I am also oddly reminded of the legal wrangle a few years back between Victoria Beckham and Peterborough United football club over whether either of them could trademark the word “Posh”.

  6. Nash Says:

    There’s only one way to settle this. FIGHT!!!

  7. Nash Says:

    FIGHT!!! for those who don’t know what I’m on about.

  8. draust Says:

    I was envisaging a three-way wrestling Celebrity Deathmatch between Mrs Beckham, T.Rex, and the Peterborough United FC club mascot. The whole to take place in an arena of “mock-Cretaceous” mud well-greased with Trex.

    Since at this level it’s all about the will to win, my money’s on Victoria.

  9. Nash Says:

    I think if you are fantasizing about a greased up Mrs Beckham, mud wrestling with a dinosaur and an entire football team, you need to have a cold shower and a lay down. And don’t tell your missus, she might not understand.

  10. draust Says:

    Just the team mascot, Nash, not the team…. I was assuming the mascot was someone in a comedy foam rubber suit, to add the necessary touch of the surreal, though I have not been able to track down a Peterborough-specific mascot photo.

    If I told Mrs Dr Aust, the two most likely responses would be “The English and their *!*! football” (with a sigh) or “I blame it on that public school education”.

  11. Nash Says:

    Peterboroughs mascot is Peter Burrow, a rabbit.

    The Posh is the team nickname in the same way that Arsenal are the Gunners and Everton are the Toffeemen.

    Anyway, fantasizing about a lard smeared Victoria Beckham, fighting a man in a foam latex costume and a dinosaur in a mud bath is not really much better. Time to stop digging on this one.

  12. draust Says:

    Yes, I knew about the Peterborough team nickname as it was the reason for the Posh vs Posh legal dispute.

    Anyway, if we can’t persuade Victoria (highly likely, I fear), we could always settle for Peter Burrow in foam rubber bunny mask facing off against T.rex. No seedy connotations there, surely? – just good clean bloodthirsty violence…

    A bit like that scene in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, except with “Bunnyman” substituting for Kong, no ravine, and no decorously décolleté blonde.

  13. Mark B Says:

    Of course I’m unavailable for comment. I wrapped my bloody mini round a tree.

  14. draust Says:

    For anyone puzzled by the last comment, read this. Though actually he wasn’t driving the car, at least according to the generally accepted version – the driver was Gloria Jones of (the original) Tainted Love fame.

    Given his age, some of Dr Aust’s earliest memories of the BBC’s Top of The Pops relate to stuff like this.

  15. I bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you? « O’Really? Says:

    […] Aust, Cretacean Mud Slinger from the “University of […]

  16. Svetlana (She-Liger) Says:

    Wow! Nessie!… ;)

  17. Svetlana (She-Liger) Says:

    Hurrah! I’ve become a quack too! :) And certainly I have chosen most interesting sphere in this “black affair”. It is clear that I can never be homeopath or chiros. Faugh, it is such bore and idiotism! No, it is not for me.

    Oh, I’ve found quite charming and fascinating quackery business! I’ve become a cryptozoologist! :D

    At last I have understood strategical line of our chiefs! Yes, David is quite right when he is filled with indignation because of penetration of quacks into universities. Yep, but who will forbid us to answer them symmetrically? We will penetrate into their structures too! Imagine! We, skeptics – in their structures… Eh? Ha-ha! Already in one week nothing will remain of the quackery! :)

    Doc, and whom would you like to become in quackery? Besides cryptozoology, of course. Considering your latest posts you have evident talent and interest in this field, so I don’t ask even question about it. Answer is too clear. And I don’t ask about chiropractic, surely. You will get into their gang only in form of skeleton for training of newcomers, they will not suffer you in other version after all weasel words, which you wrote about BCA :)
    And what else?

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