Anne Elk's Theory on Brontosauruses

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"Anne Elk's Theory on Brontosauruses" is a sketch from the thirty-first Monty Python's Flying Circus episode, "The All-England Summarize Proust Competition".

This sketch features Graham Chapman as a television interviewer and John Cleese in drag as a palaeontologist, Anne Elk, appearing in a television talk show titled Thrust.

The plot of the sketch is that the interviewee, Anne Elk, cannot bring herself to describe the actual basis of her supposed new palaeontological theory on dinosaurs, specifically Brontosauruses. After several false starts during which she repeatedly and noisily attempts to clear her throat, Ms. Elk spends most of the interview circuitously leading up to the "theory of dinosaurs by Anne Elk bracket Miss brackets", making assertions like "My theory, which belongs to me, is mine." It turns out that in the end Miss Elk's new theory on brontosauruses is rather shallow: "All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end." Her true concern is that she receive full credit for devising this new theory: "That is the theory that I have, and which is mine, and what it is too."

This sketch was also performed on the album Monty Python's Previous Record, under the title 'Miss Anne Elk'. The sketch inspired the concept of "Elk Theories" to describe scientific observations that are not theories but merely minimal accounts.[1]

Anne Elk's roundabout speech pattern was based on Graham Chapman's companion David Sherlock, who evidently spoke in such a manner, amusing the other Pythons.[citation needed]

The character A. Elk and her 'Theory of Brontosauruses' is used in the American Psychological Association Style Guide to illustrate how to reference a periodical article in a learned journal.[2]


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