3 wrongs and right about the dinosaurs we’ve seen in Jurassic Park and Jurassic World

Jurassic World: Dominion the last installment of the film saga that Steven Spielberg began in 1993 with “JurassicPark”, It begins in prehistory.

The first 5 minutes of footage from the film, which is already in theaters in Latin America, was released on YouTube in October as part of a promotional campaign and places the audience in a world where dreadnoughtus, quetzalcoatlus and ankylosaurs They are masters and lords of the Earth.

The dreadnought was so massive that scientists believe it had no predators. (Photo: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS/AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT)

At its climax, the clip shows a titanic battle: tyrannosaurus rexundisputed star of the saga so far, facing the giganotosaurusa beast 4 meters high and weighing 6 tons, who seeks to dethrone the king.

But even if it seems that Hollywood has managed to open a direct window to what our planet looked like 66 million years ago, scientists remind us that what we see on the screen is only fiction. With a bit of science included.

“You have to remember that movies from jurassic-park they are not documentaries,” Jack Horner, the renowned American paleontologist who advised Steven Spielberg during the production of jurassic-park Y The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

That is why at BBC Mundo we decided to talk to those who do know, the paleontologists, to ask them about some of the scientific mistakes (and successes) that the movies have had in the saga of jurassic-park.

1. The tyrannosaurus rex and the giganotosaurus never existed together.

A tyrannosaurus rex and a giganotosaurus facing each other

The savage fight between the tyrannosaurus and the giganotosaurus could never have happened due to many factors, the scientific author and amateur paleontologist Riley Black, who advised the production of Jurassic Worldthe fourth film in the saga.

“Not only did these dinosaurs live millions of years from each other, they also lived on different continents.”

The tyrannosaurus rex lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, about 68 million years ago, in what is now North America, while the giganotosaurus lived 99 million years ago in what is now South America.

But not only did the tyrannosaurus and the giganotosaurus not coexist. Black explains that there are several animals seen in the film’s prologue that were separated by stage and region.

The iguanodon, which first appears in the franchise, lived about 120 million years ago in Europe, and the nasutoceratops, which could be mistaken for a triceratops, about 76 million years ago.

“And we also go back to the theme of Hollywood making the monsters fight each other,” Black explained, assuring that there is a lot of fiction in it.

2. Velociraptor had feathers

A velociraptor from the Jurassic World franchise

One of the errors that scientists have highlighted in the saga has been the model of the velociraptor, another of the deadly hunters.

“We knew that raptorial dinosaurs, the small velociraptor, must have feathers,” Jack Horner, scientific advisor for the production of jurassic-parkthe first film in which the “raptor” appeared.

“Steven and I discussed it, but it was technologically impossible. Feathers are rarely animated nowadays, it’s taken a long time for feathers to be animated.”

“And we weren’t going to put feathers on a puppet, it would look stupid!” says Horner, recalling how some of the designs were achieved.

Black explained that the design of the velociraptor of jurassic-park it is more similar to what is known of another prehistoric animal.

a pyroraptor
The pyroraptor is one of the new additions to the franchise. (Photo: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS/AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT)

“The velociraptor in the first movie was a mistake from the start, because in Michael Crichton’s novel it was inspired by a specific book called ‘Predatory Dinosaurs of the World’ that talked about a dinosaur called deinonychus,” says paleontologist Black.

He describes it as a human-sized dinosaur that hunted in packs. A dinosaur much more similar to the one that Michael Crichton baptized in his novel as “velociraptor”.

Scientists believe that the real velociraptor was a small animal, no bigger than a turkey, and was covered in feathers all over its body.

3. They lack more colors

Horner explains that sometimes he doesn’t know why he was hired as scientific adviser for jurassic-parkif in the end Spielberg did what he had to do to entertain.

Jack Horner
Paleontologist Jack Horner worked as a consultant on the first trilogy of the saga. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

“It was interesting that they brought me on board because they didn’t take my advice, but I think they wanted a little bit of credibility and they wanted someone to give some things the thumbs up.”

One of the decisions with which Horner does not agree is the color of the animals.

“My sense is that [los dinosaurios] they were much more colorful than we have made them. Their descendants, the birds, are often very colorful. I don’t see why not give some of them vivid colors too.”

“Steven didn’t want to do it, he said technicolor dinosaurs weren’t scary enough.”

But Horner also acknowledged that much of what the original film shows was based on the science available in the early 1990s.

mosquito in amber
In the 1990s it was not known whether DNA from mosquitoes preserved in amber could be acquired. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

“In the early 1990s we didn’t know if we could get DNA from fossilized samples, and there were people out there trying to get DNA from fossilized insects. That was what Michael Crichton wrote, it was what science was doing at the time.”

the hits

David Hone, paleontologist at Queen Mary University of London, told BBC Mundo that, although the emphasis of the saga has been entertainment, there are some aspects that are focused on scientific evidence.

“The example I always give is the stegosaurus. If you see it through the franchise, in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (that everyone calls Jurassic Park 2) have a sequence with three stegosaurs, two adults and one baby.”

Paleontologist David Hone calls the stegosaurs in “The Lost World” “magnificent.” Although a bit big. (Photo: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS/AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT)

“And although they are very big, they are wonderful. There will be some little details that can be debated, but they are basically excellent.”

And he also assures that he has popularized certain dinosaurs at astronomical levels.

“Tyrannosaurus is the only dinosaur that people tend to remember. I have spent time in China, where people love dinosaurs, and you would think that T. rex is not known there because it is a North American animal. But children in China love the tyrannosaurus.”

And that is where the 3 paleontologists agree: in saying that, despite the fact that there are some elements of reality, others of fiction and others erroneous, the important thing about jurassic-park It was always entertainment.

Tyrannosaurus pushing a cart
The tyrannosaurus rex is one of the most recognized dinosaurs worldwide. (Photo: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS/AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT)

“[Crichton] I had a lot of real things [en la novela] and Steven used a lot of that. Michael was writing a fun book and Steven was trying to make a fun movie. Neither of us wanted to do something documentary-style,” Jack Horner said of Steven Spielberg’s work.

“And they hit what they wanted to achieve, right?”

It may interest you:

* 6 myths about dinosaurs that still confuse many people
* Texas entrepreneur wants to make a “Jurassic Park” a reality and resurrect the extinct mammoths
* Scientists would have found fragments of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

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