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Stegosaurus Is My Second-Favorite Dinosaur

The bones in its face just make it look so cool. It's huge, its knees are awesome, and of course, it has tail spikes. I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention the sweet tail spikes.

But it's not my favorite. As anyone who's read this column knows, T-Rex is obviously my No. 1 dinosaur—that goes without saying. A common choice? Perhaps. But I defy anyone to legitimately deny the raw power of that perfect killing machine. And please, I don't want to hear anything about T-Rex being a scavenger, because I'll go to the mat on that.

However, I'm not talking about T-Rex today. I'm here to give Stegosaurus its proper due. This gentle, awesome giant is easily lost in the mainstream shuffle of Apatosaurus—No. 33—and Pachycephalosaurus—No. 12—and I don't condemn anyone who, albeit wrongly, puts Stegosaurus lower on his list. Plus, other pundits out there will pick the safe route, going on all day about Allosaurus and its thumb spikes—admittedly really cool—or Velociraptor and its claws or whatever. It's just that I'm not going to pad my favorites catalogue with a bunch of obvious carnivores.

Stegosaurus is definitely, solidly, my No. 2 favorite dinosaur of all time. No. 2, mind you, out of all dinosaurs. Ever. Even Ankylosaurus, though I imagine some of the so-called experts out there will find that pretty hard to believe.

Ever since watching Land of the Lost at my fourth-favorite age of five—the original 1974 series, that is, which is the 17th-best television show of all time, easily—Stegosaurus has had a special place in my heart. Granted, that show introduced me to many wonderful dinosaurs: Pterodactyl was No. 2 for a time, Brontosaurus was in that slot for months, and even those reptoid midgets, the Sleestacks, with their big black eyes and pointy heads were ranked second for six episodes until they were disqualified due to a technicality. But Stegosaurus has an undeniable staying power—and awesome tail spikes, as I said—and eventually edged them all out.

Of course, it could never edge out T-Rex. Just look at its teeth! But I've already devoted my third- and fifth-favorite columns I've written about dinosaurs to Tyrannosaurus, so, again, there's no need to get into that. Nor will I dwell on dinosaurs three through 10, considering they're all different types of pterosaurs, and, for now at least, I don't have the space to break down the subtleties.

Anyway, Stegosaurus. Why No. 2, you ask? The obvious answer for this, of course, are the thermoregulatory plates on its back, but that's my distant third-favorite reason as to why Stegosaurus is my second-favorite dinosaur. No, my No. 1 reason is the "second brain"—the coolest brain, by far, in the Stegosaurus—near the base of its tail used for controlling reflexes in the rear part of its body. Reasons two and four are a little complicated and both tail-spike-related, so I'll leave those for another time.

Reason No. 5 for loving Stegosaurus is because it could regularly and easily knock down trees. Huge trees. Which is awesome.

In many ways—well, eight ways, actually—Stegosaurus embodies a lot of things on my various lists that are pretty great but don't quite make the top. For example, the Clash's triple album, Sandinista—the second disc of which is the third-best disc—the 31st-best record of all time, between The Faces' Long Player and Neil Diamond's Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack. To me, Stegosaurus carries on its back, along with those wicked, massive plates, the weight of all the silver-medal winners in my life, including my second-favorite list and my favorite salty snack foods, which are the third-best variety of snack foods.

It may seem a little excessive to a few self-styled experts (who are high on my blacklist—well, my blacklist for self-styled experts) to place so much secondary importance on an extinct herbivore. My answer to that is: No, it's not. However, I'm not so petty as to allow ranking to consume my entire existence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ranking things, like Stegosaurus, comes in second, right behind drawing, and just ahead of my mom, who's currently at a solid No. 3.

She's up from No. 5 after a stellar showing this past Christmas.

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