With apologies to John Cleese and Graham Chapman and following a conversation with Jonah Choiniere:
A palaeontologist enters the collections of a major museum…
Researcher: Good Morning.
Curator: Good morning, Sir. Welcome to the National Museum Collections.
R: Ah, thank you, my good man.
C: What can I do for you, Sir?
R: Well, I was, uh, sitting in the research library browsing The Dinosauria as edited by Weishampel et al. when I realised that I really needed to see some non-avian theropodan dinosauromorphs.
C: Come again?
R: Extinct Mesozoic carnivorous bipedal archosaurs.
C: Ah, dinosaurs!
R: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, a few bones of the right taxa would serve as a perfect comparison for this taxonomic revision.
C: Come again?
R: I want to see some dinosaurs.
C: Oh, I thought you were complaining about the preparator!
R: Oh, heaven forbid: I am one who delights in the sounds of air-pen during important explorations of semi-jacketed fossiliferous materials.
R: We need it, don’t we!
C: So he can go on working, can he?
R: Most certainly! Now then, some theropods please, my good man.
C: (lustily) Certainly, sir. What would you like?
R: Well, eh, how about a specimen of Carnotaurus?
C: I’m afraid that’s out on loan sir.
R: Oh, never mind, how are you on Ornitholestes?
C: I’m afraid we never have that at time of year, sir, we send it out to schools as an educational tool.
R: Tish tish. No matter. Well, stout yeoman, how about the manus of Deinocheirus if you please.
C: Ah! It’s been in a traveling exhibition, sir, for two weeks. Was expecting it back this morning.
R: Not my lucky day, is it? Aah, Gallimimus?
C: Sorry, sir.
C: Normally, sir, yes. Today it’s been locked in the basement by mistake.
R: Ah. Spinosaurus?
C: Oh yes. But we don’t know where it is.
R: Baryonyx? Suchomimus?
C: They’re being reprepared.
R: Any isolated Tendaguru teeth, per chance.
C: We’ve got a bad cast.
C: It’s on display.
R: That’s OK.
C: In a case that can’t be opened.
C: It was stolen.
C: <pause> No.
C: But it’s being described so you can’t take photos or measurements right now.
R: Alioramus, Raptorex, Tarbosaurus, Gorogosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Albertosaurus?
R: Gasosaurus, perhaps?
C: Ah, we have Gasosaurus—yes, sir.
R: You do, excellent.
C: Yes sir, it’s, ah…it’s not very accessible.
R: Oh, I’m used to that.
C: It’s very inaccessible actually, sir.
R: No matter, fetch hither the Xinjing theropod per excellence..
C: I think it’s more inaccessible than you’ll like it sir.
R: I don’t care how inaccessible it is, hand it over with all speed.
R: What now?
C: The preparatory has covered the bones in paint and plaster.
R: <pause> Has he.
C: She, sir.
R: <pause again> Khaan?
R: A Liaoning Caudipteryx?
C: No sir.
R: You DO have some theropods do you?
C: Course sir, it’s a dinosaur collection sir, we’ve got er…
R: No, no, don’t tell me, I’m keen to guess.
C: Fair enough.
R: Er, Abelisaurus.
R: Ah well I’ll have some of that.
C: Oh, I thought you were talking to me sir, Mr. Abelisaurus: that’s my name.
R: <pause> Allosaurus?
C: Ah, not as such.
R: Er, Monolophosaurus?
C: Not today sir, no.
R: <pause> Ah, how about Tyrannosaurus?
C: Well, we don’t get much call for it round here, sir.
R: NOT MUCH CALL…. it’s the single most well known theropod in the world!
C: Not round here sir.
R: And what is the most popular theropod round here?
C: Piatnitzkysaurus sir.
R: Is it?
C: Oh yes, sir, it’s staggeringly popular in this manor squire.
R: Is it?
C: It’s our number 1 most seen taxon sir.
R: I see, er Piatnitzkysaurus eh.
C: Right sir.
R: All right, OK…… have you it, he asked, expecting the answer no.
C: I’ll have a look sir. <looks around beneath counter> Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.
R: It’s not much of a collection is it?
C: Finest in the district sir.
R: Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, pray.
C: Well it’s so clean, sir.
R: It’s certainly uncontaminated by theropods.
C: You haven’t asked me about the troodontids, sir.
R: Is it worth it?
C: Could be.
R: Have you….SHUT THAT BLOODY PNEUMATIC DRILL UP!!
C: Told you sir.
R: Have you got any troodontids?
R: That figures, predictable, really I suppose. It was an act of the purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place. Tell me…
C: Yes sir?
R: Have you in fact, got any theropods here at all?
C: Yes sir.
C: No, not really sir.
R: You haven’t?
C: No sir, not a scrap, I was deliberately wasting your time sir.
R: Well I’m sorry but I’m going to have to shoot you.
C: Right-O sir.
R: What a senseless waste of human life.
All of these excuses / situations have happened tome or colleagues at one time or another. Really. It’s a wonder we ever get anything done.
For those who don’t get this at all, try this.
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