What the world needs now is a dinosaur emoji

By Abby Ohlheiser

Photo / iStock
Photo / iStock

The Unicode Consortium will soon release 72 new emoji into the world. None of them is a dinosaur.

Dominik Schwarz, a self-described "Internet rando" with a deep and abiding love of dinosaurs, is trying to change that. Schwarz is one of at least two people to submit proposals for a dinosaur emoji to the Unicode Consortium, the international body that (among many other things) governs the process of selecting and releasing emoji. And recently, he launched a campaign to get the Internet on board with the idea.

"It's really weird that there's no dinosaur emoji," he said in an interview with The Washington Post. "I just wanted to make that happen."

Schwarz opted to submit a proposal for a single suborder of dinosaur, the sauropod, to represent all dinosaurs. It's one of the more iconic dinos, he said - and also his favorite.

"Of course I would like to have hundreds," he added, "but probably every duck owner would like to have his own breed of duck as an emoji, but that's just unrealistic."

To be clear, Schwarz does not own any dinosaurs. He lives in Berlin and works at a travel start-up.

There's another reason a dinosaur emoji is a good idea: It meets an important criterion for a good emoji - the ability to carry more than one meaning, or to express emotions or situations beyond what the emoji literally depicts.

He suggests that dinosaur can mean "impractically large," "obsolete" or "about to go extinct" in addition to meaning "a dinosaur."

Schwarz thinks the sauropod is uniquely suited to the task. In several languages, including English, German and French, "being a dinosaur has the meaning it has," in the sense of being older, or somehow out-of date, Schwarz said.

"You can't picture that with a T. rex. It's not being old, outdated," he said, arguing that "it doesn't work with any other dinosaur."

Although Schwarz has taken on the idea of trying to get the public behind the idea, another proposal to the Unicode consortium has been making the rounds lately. That proposal offers three dinosaur emoji, heads only, of the Tyrannosaurus rex, Brontosaurus and Triceratops.

The Unicode Consortium's Andrew West responded to that proposal earlier this year by suggesting 11 different dinosaur and prehistoric creature emoji instead. Also, the response suggested, any dinosaur emoji should definitely show the entire body of the majestic extinct creature, and not just its head.

Whatever the final form, the need is obvious, the response acknowledged. But West worried that if the consortium suddenly unveiled three new dino emoji, it would only encourage even more requests for "other equally famous dinosaurs, such as the Stegosaurus and the Velociraptor." So they're going to think a bit more about how to do this.

Schwarz is hoping that the consortium will release a dinosaur emoji (preferably his) for the summer of 2017, with the release of Unicode 10. That's the earliest it could possibly be available, but nothing's certain yet.

Right now, he said, the emoji-governing body is figuring out how to consolidate his proposal and others they've received into one final proposed dinosaur emoji plan, a procedure that should wrap up some time in the summer.

- Washington Post

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