ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

The success of Jurassic Park in 1993 essentially created the modern dinosaur. If you tell a child (or an adult for that matter) to describe a prehistoric dino, you'll probably hear about leathery skin, dull colors and big sharp teeth. Although the last of these three elements is probably true, it seems Jurassic Park, and the recently released Jurassic World, has been lying about the rest.

In the defense of Spielberg, many of the discoveries which invalidated his iconic presentation of the T-Rex and velociraptor were actually dug up after the release of Jurassic Park. Despite this, they're still worth knowing.

Velociraptors Weren't Nearly as Scary as Shown on Film

Let's start off with a fact known by most self-respecting dino-fans. The velociraptors shown in all four of the Jurassic Park films were actually nothing like that in real life.

In reality, the velociraptor - which has only been discovered in Mongolia and not North America as shown in Jurassic Park - were about the size of a turkey while they also had feathers. With this in mind, it probably looked a lot more cute than their representations on screen.

Artists impression of 'accurate' raptor.
Artists impression of 'accurate' raptor.

However, there was a dinosaur that was similar to the Hollywood version of the raptor. The Utahraptor, for example, was actually larger than a human and also packed the same devastating weaponry as described by Dr. Alan Grant in the opening of Jurassic Park. But, like the velociraptor it was also probably covered in feathers.

Paul Barrett of London's Natural History Museum also states training velociraptors, as shown in Jurassic World, probably wouldn't be a good idea, he states:

"Although smart by reptile standards, fixing your steely glare on a razor-toothed, huge-clawed, agile pack-hunter with the intelligence and learning ability of an ostrich, and throwing it the odd dead rat for a treat, is likely to end in tears."

One more thing - in Jurassic Park, a velociraptor steams up a window before entering the kitchen. This is also probably impossible, as dinosaurs were likely cold, not warm-blooded, creatures - although there is debate on this topic.

The T-Rex Could See You Just Fine

The Tyrannosaurs Rex is a terrifying beast, but every child of the 1990s knows it has one massive weakness - it can't see you if you stand still. In Jurassic Park, this strange chink in its armored hide is once again explained by Grant, who claims the T-Rex's eyesight would have been based on movement.

Once again this is categorically wrong, and probably would have got a lot of time-traveling kids from the 1990s killed. Based on its skull, paleontologists have discovered the T-Rex probably had some of the best eyesight in the dino-kingdom. Thanks to the deep grooves in its snout and large eyeballs, the T-Rex could probably see better than humans, while vision expert Dr. Kent Stevens even suggests its eyesight could rival that of modern day hawks and eagles.

The Jurassic Park films have also peddled other inaccuracies. Firstly, the T-Rex probably actually had a top speed of 25 mph, not the 32 mph as suggested by Dr. Hammond in the film. This means it wouldn't have been much of a threat to a Jeep going at full pelt.

Oh, yeah, and perhaps most damning of all, it is likely the T-Rex also had feathers, making it appear more like a giant chicken than a death-dealing massive reptile.

Artist's impression of 'accurate' T-rex.
Artist's impression of 'accurate' T-rex.

Brachiosaurus Couldn't Rear Up on Its Hind Legs

In Jurassic Park, the climax of the dinosaur reveal scene shows a brachiosaurus rearing up on its hind legs to munch on some particularly tasty leaves. If we negate the fact a prehistoric creature probably wouldn't have been able to digest modern plants (as illustrated in the sick triceratops scene), this moment is still unlikely.

Although experts think some sauropods did rear up, they're fairly sure brachiosaurus wasn't one of them. Using computer modeling, a 2011 study revealed that the the Brachiosaurus was likely to topple over if it tried such a move - which makes for a slightly less impressive, if more adorable, display. According to paleontologist Heinrich Mallison, its mass was moved too far forward compared to other sauropods, such as diplodocus, to rear up.

Dilophosaurus Was Completely Different

In Jurassic Park, the dilophosaurus is a rather cute, but incredibly deadly dino - as discovered by Dennis Nedry. Although being rather small, it packs a serious punch with an intimidating frill and ability to spit venom.

In reality, it was not venomous and did not have a frill. Furthermore, it was much bigger - around the size of a human - which means it was actually larger than the velociraptor. It seem the changes were mostly had for artistic reasons. Spielberg wanted a new unique dinosaur to stand out against the others, while he was also concerned a pure dilophosaurus could easily be confused with a raptor - hence the distinguishing frill.

Pterosaurs Probably Wouldn't Be a Threat to Humans

Although appearing in Jurassic Park 3, Jurassic World bulks out the role played by pterosaurs. In the latest blockbuster, they are shown as opportunistic snatchers of panicking tourists, although this is probably impossible. The dinos, who ate fish and small lizards, simply wouldn't be able to carry a human. Barrett explains:

"As for being carried off by a flying pterosaur, which happens to several unfortunate tourists, some fundamental physics goes awry here: it seems highly unlikely that even a super-sized Dimorphodon with breast muscles the size of a turkey’s would be able be carry off your average-sized human, especially if that human had been indulging in some decent restaurants during their holiday."

Of course, none of these truths detract from the fun of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. In fact, the latest addition to the franchise did pay some kind of lip-service to correcting these inaccuracies. Firstly, the movie contains a line which explains the corrupted DNA of the dinos means they are probably not 100% accurate representations of the prehistoric thing, while it also reveals the dinosaurs have been made bigger to appeal to tourists. Secondly, Jurassic World's dinosaur expert James Horner claims Colin Trevorrow did finally add more color to the dinosaur palette, although it still wasn't quite enough. When asked about the drab color presented in Jurassic World, he claimed:

"That is inaccurate. They were colorful. We don't know specific color. We just know that they would have had color on them because they gave rise to birds, and birds are colorful."

Source: Zimbio


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