from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An arrangement of spikes found on the tails of various stegosaurs.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined by Gary Larson in 1982. His comic strip shows a caveman giving a lecture illustrating this part of a dinosaur, with the caption "Now this end is called the thagomizer... after the late Thag Simmons". See -ize, -er.


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  • from wikipedia:

    The thagomizer, or tail spikes, is an arrangement of four to ten spikes on the tails of particular dinosaurs of the clade Stegosauria, of which Stegosaurus stenops is the most familiar. The tail arrangement is believed to have been a defensive weapon against predators.

    The term "thagomizer" was coined by Gary Larson in a 1982 Far Side comic strip, in which a group of cavemen in a faux-modern lecture hall are taught by their caveman professor that the spikes were named for "the late Thag Simmons". The term was picked up initially by Ken Carpenter, a palaeontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who used the term when describing a fossil at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 1993.

    Thagomizer has since been adopted as an informal anatomical term, appearing, for example, on the website of the Smithsonian Institution. The term has been used in displays at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, in the book The Complete Dinosaur, and in the stegosaur display at the Smithsonian Institution. As of 2007, however, the term does not appear to have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    June 9, 2007