I was reading The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins and came across this wonderful poem by Bert Leston Taylor in one of its footnotes. Here’s what Dawkins has to say about it, followed by the poem itself:
It is a a little-known fact that some dinosaurs had a ganglion in the pelvis, which was so large (at least relative to the brain in the head) as almost to deserve the title of second brain. This prompted the following delightfully witty verse by the American comic writer Bert Leston Taylor (1866–1921):
Behold the mighty dinosaur,
Famous in prehistoric lore,
Not only for his weight and length,
But for his intellectual strength.
You will observe by these remains
The creature had two sets of brains,
The one in his head, the usual place,
The other at his spinal base.
Thus he could reason a priori
As well as a posteriori.
No problem bothered him a bit,
He made both head and tail of it.
So wise he was
So wise and solemn
Each thought filled just a spinal column.
If one brain found the pressure strong,
It passed a few ideas along.
It something slipped the forward mind
’Twas rescued by the one behind.
And if in error he was caught
He had a saving afterthought.
As he thought twice before he spoke
He had no judgment to revoke.
For he could think without congestion
Upon both sides of every question.
O gaze upon this noble beast,
Defunct ten million years at least.
The puns and wordplay in this poem are so good! “And if in error he was caught he had a saving afterthought.” Haha!