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Philosoraptor is an image macro series featuring a clip art of Velociraptor deeply immersed in metaphysical inquiries or unraveling quirky paradoxes. One of the more thoughtful (and successful) Advice Dog variations, Philosoraptor challenges the reader with his deep, existential, Paleolithic questions. See also: Raptor Jesus
The original Philosoraptor was originally created as a T-shirt design on LonelyDinosaur by Sam Smith, who registered the copyright for his design on October 8th, 2008.
In a recent e-mail exchange, Smith revealed that the idea for “Philosoraptor” image was conceived sometime in the early of summer of 2008. The final image wasn’t created until late summer and the t-shirts went into production circa August and September 2008.
The image itself was a mix of several images of velociraptors I got online, which I compressed to one-color images, then mixed together. I took the jaw off of one at the mouth, and cut it open to make the mouth look like it was hanging open. The claw was based off an image of an eagle talon that I flattened, drew in some bits, and moved and enlarged one of them to make the raptor-like claw. The last thing I did was nudge the eye slit over to the right like three times, and that pulled it all together- really gives him that far-away look.
It was inspired by our friend Devin, who was a philosophy major and was always hunched over his desk thinking, so we called him the philosoraptor. We had never heard of it before at the time, but apparently the joke had been made previously on the interwebs.
The earliest known depiction of Philosoraptor, a photoshopped image of the The Jurassic Park velociraptor holding a copy of Plato’s complete works, was posted via YTMND on March 30th, 2007. However, the YTMND only received minor attention and it remains the only instance of Philosoraptor on the site.
One of the first archived instances of Philosoraptor macros on 4chan that has been archived occurred in a /b/ thread posted on February 18th, 2009, almost two months after the sharp rise in trend. The Philosoraptor text is clearly visible, followed by a blank exploitable in the second post.
In March 2009, Memegenerator was launched, allowing these Advice Dog variations to flourish without the aid of photo-editing programs. On Memegenerator, Philosoraptor remains one of the most popular macro series in the God Tier with over 38,000 instances and 12 different templates (as of July 2011). One of the alternative templates for Philosoraptor uses the image of the raptor originally featured in the 1993 blockbuster film Jurassic Park and later in the YTMND site.
The earliest image submission of “Philosoraptor” to Encylopedia Dramatica was registered in November 2009. Although the earliest Urban Dictionary definition for “Philosoraptor” first appeared in June 2008, the 4chan-specific definition was submitted over a year later on November 26th, 2009:
A philosophical cousin of the velociraptor, that originated on 4chan, and was adapted from the advice dog meme. It’s commonly used as an image macro with a picture of the philosoraptor’s head, one talon poised under its chin, as it ponders the deeper questions of the universe. It is generally accompanied by a riddle, pronoun or philosophical issue, or a parody of one of these, that the philosoraptor is currently mulling over. The text is usually divided, with half the text appearing at the top of the picture, and the other half at the bottom.
Although “Philosoraptor” (combination of Philosopher and velociraptor) appears on the original t-shirt design, the portmanteau word has been used elsewhere prior to the release of LonelyDinosaur merchandises. Due to the similar sounds of the two words, it is quite likely that various people arrived at the concept of a Philosoraptor independent of one another.
One of the earliest mentions of “philosoraptor” on the web can be found in a quote by a ten-year-old Hope from Kentucky, originally posted via children’s site EnchantedLearning on December 28th, 1998:
I like the philosoraptor because it spits an acidy type of substance in its victims eyes. I saw this dinosaur in the movie Jurassic Park and I did a report on it also. This dinosaur is da bomb.
“Philosoraptor” has been also used as online identities on various occasions, most notably the politics-religion blog Philosoraptor which has been active since March 2003 and a notorious debater named “Philosoraptor” on Democratic Underground forums.
The largest peak in Philosoraptor queries began in December of 2008, two months following Smith’s copyright registration.
The Artist’s Response
In December 2009, Sam Smith sent an e-mail to inform the staff that he is cool with the photoshopping and remains curious to know how the meme all began.
We’re not exactly sure who started putting text over it, and far be it from us to try and control a meme… We put a creative commons non-commercial license on it, so all your stuff is cool and we think what you’re doing is great, but now everyone thinks that the shirt we’re selling is just something we cut and pasted off the web, which kind of sucks for us. It’d be cool to see if we could put our side of the story out there and see if we can find the person who first put text over it, and have a complete history of origin of the meme.