1056: Felidae

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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'Smilodon fatalis' narrowly edged out 'Tyrannosaurus rex' to win this year's Most Badass Latin Names competition, after edging out 'Dracorex hogwartsia' and 'Stygimoloch spinifer' (meaning 'horned dragon from the river of death') in the semifinals.
Title text: 'Smilodon fatalis' narrowly edged out 'Tyrannosaurus rex' to win this year's Most Badass Latin Names competition, after edging out 'Dracorex hogwartsia' and 'Stygimoloch spinifer' (meaning 'horned dragon from the river of death') in the semifinals.


This comic shows a graph with three parts.

First, the names are sorted up by genera (plural of genus, a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms) from bottom to top of which animals would win in a fight. Secondly, the names within the genus are then sorted by coolness of name from left to right (the degree of "coolness" of the name is apparently determined in subjective manner by the author). Thirdly, in red you can see the direction that Apple has taken with nicknaming the versions of their OS X operating system. They started at v10.0 "Cheetah", and have moved through genera from there in no order that this chart can make out.

OS X version Code name Year released
10.0 Cheetah 2001
10.1 Puma 2001
10.2 Jaguar 2002
10.3 Panther 2003
10.4 Tiger 2004
10.5 Leopard 2006
10.6 Snow Leopard 2008
10.7 Lion 2010
10.8 Mountain Lion 2012

Please note that the second words in "Snow Leopard" and "Mountain Lion" are capitalized in the table because they are used as the proper names of the operating system versions. In their normal use, as species vernacular names, they are not capitalized and are written as "snow leopard" and "mountain lion".

Bobcats are a running XKCD joke, so their inclusion is to be expected. The genus Puma here only lists synonyms for the puma (see cougar) instead of the actual genus. Of course, the three OS X versions named by three of these synonyms are not the same.

Since this comic was published, Apple has stopped naming versions of OS X after big cats, and now names them after Californian landmarks. OS X v10.8 "Mountain Lion" was followed by v10.9 "Mavericks", named after a surf spot, followed by v10.10 "Yosemite", named after a national park, and so on.

The title of the chart depicted on the comic ("OS X problem") is perhaps an allusion to the travelling salesman problem, as the directed arrows and graph nodes might appear as a possible path of the salesperson between the cities. The computational difficulty of the travelling salesman problem might echo with the difficulties that the author has with trying to figure out the underlying reason for naming the OS X versions in particular order. The chart thus looks like a parody on the scientific presentation.

In the title text, a Smilodon fatalis is a saber-tooth cat, a Dracorex hogwartsia is a dinosaur whose skull looks like that of a fairy tale dragon, and a Stygimoloch spinifer is one of the last dinosaurs before the K-T (Cretaceous-Paleogene) extinction about 66 million years ago. Notably, it's possible both Stygimoloch and Dracorex are in fact juvenile members of the genus Pachycepholosaurus who were wrongly identified as a separate species, meaning two of Randall's top four coolest extinct animal names would no longer be recognized. All of the animals mentioned in the title text are now extinct.


Well-known felines:
[A graph organizing various feline species labeled with common names ordered by genera (in order of which would win in a fight) on the y axis, and coolness of name on the x axis.]
Smilodon (extinct): "Saber-toothed cat (scientific name: Smilodon fatalis)
Panthera: "Jaguar", "Leopard", "Snow Leopard", "Tiger", "Lion"
Puma: "Cougar", "Puma", "Panther", "Mountain Lion"
Other felidae: "Ocelot", "Cheetah"
Felis & Lynx: "Housecat", "Bobcat", "Wildcat", "Lynx"
[Some elements are further connected using an unbranched acyclic digraph. The elements are connected thus: "Cheetah" -> "Puma" -> "Jaguar" -> "Panther" -> "Tiger" -> "Leopard" -> "Snow Leopard" -> "Lion" -> "Mountain Lion".]
The OS X Problem

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I'm pretty sure there's the saber-toothed tiger in the smilodon category too. That's gonna be faaar to the right. Davidy22[talk] 10:05, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

@davidy: saber-toothed tiger == saber-toothed cat. Same animal, different name. 21:38, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

If I'm not mistaken, Dracorex hogwartsia was specifically named for Hogwarts, so the name isn't disturbingly similar.Kdesltd (talk) 06:13, 16 February 2013 (UTC)

this page is useless without a table of cat names to osx versions

cause where else am i going to go for that information? obviously [explain]xkcd. 22:43, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Here! Dawfedora (talk) 18:27, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

I see your sarcasm and raise you one wikitable. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No one addresses what the Ox problem is - I believe that he could be referring to the fact that all the cool names are taken. Although it could be the strange order? Seems like the mountain lion version wasn't even out? Did he know that this was the name or did he guess? No matter what he did spot a problem since they did stop using cat names. Kynde (talk) 16:24, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

The version Mountain Lion had been announced in (I believe) February of that year, so he would have known about the name. 03:40, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

I personally interpreted "the OSX problem" as them increasingly struggling to find cat names for their releases which top the previous names in some way. The first three releases were clearly moving up the scale of "which would win in a fight". The fourth takes a step backwards in "would win in a fight" but moves forward in "coolness of name". Then we see a step up in both scales. Then a double step back in coolness of name. Then further progress on coolness of name before finally taking steps backwards in BOTH "coolness of name" and "would win in a fight". -- plugwash

One other problem: cheetahs are the fastest animal on earth. 10.0 Cheetah was SLOW. 18:15, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

The next versions of the OS X were named "Mavericks", "Yosemite" and "El Capitan". No more cats indeed. :-( 09:42, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

Really have to disagree with the coolness of the name sort results in this comic. I'd rank them probably as: Lion < Snow Leopard < Leopard < Tiger < Jaguar Zorlax the Mighty'); DROP TABLE users;-- (talk) 17:55, 2 June 2016 (UTC)

"Panther" is an ill-defined term, not only referring to the puma species but large black cats in general (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther ) 20:05, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

You can use {{w|Panther to put Panther 02:29, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

I think, the Revolver Ocelot meme made Ocelot cooler, than Cheetah. If you swap those two, you get a route to housecat and lynx. Problem solved. 04:17, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
I agree. Although that would be a reference to a videogame, a joy unavailable to Mac OS users. 05:46, 8 June 2024 (UTC)

Whoever called it a mountain "lion" has obviously never seen a real lion. Lions are enormous animals, that tiny felid isn't worthy of the name "lion". -- The Cat Lady (talk) 09:50, 1 September 2021 (UTC)

Still a deadly surprise. 05:46, 8 June 2024 (UTC)

This comic pretty much lacks serval and caracal 05:46, 8 June 2024 (UTC)