With the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom quickly approaching, it’s now appropriate to go back to the film that spawned a multi-million dollar franchise and led to widespread interest in backseat paleontology, Jurassic Park. The Spielberg mega hit astounded audiences at the time, and the special effects are still on par with some of the best ever produced on film.
In an era of catch-and-release film-making, Jurassic Park has managed to continue to capture the imagination, and the newest installment in the series is one of the most anticipated films of the year. However, it’s also a movie that played fast-and-loose with science in order to deliver a cogent narrative. And with that in mind, it’s time to have a bit of fun poking a few holes in the biology behind Jurassic Park. Here are three-and-a-half significant scientific errors from the original movie:
Dinosaur Skin and Feathers
To be fair to Jurassic Park, it got a heck of a lot right about dinosaurs. Characters in the movie make allusions to dinosaurs’ relation to modern-day birds several times, but in reality, the filmmakers didn’t quite go far enough in their practical application. Scientists now agree that dinosaurs most likely had feathers covering their body, although this evidence didn’t come to light until 1996 –– a full three years after the first Jurassic film.
Plain and simple, velociraptors in real life were nothing like their on-screen representations. In truth, they were much shorter, covered in feathers, and lacking any of the special brain power the movie attributes to them. Picture a particularly mean-spirited turkey and you’ve got a better understanding of the “real” velociraptor than the menacing monster in the film.
Many of the species depicted in Jurassic Park actually lived during the Cretaceous period –– including, the T-Rex. Still, recent studies by the University of Manchester have proved that massive dinosaurs did exist during the Jurassic period, though. So there’s some consolation there for the filmmakers, even if they didn’t know that at the time.
This is a tricky one. One of the most exciting aspects of Jurassic Park is the idea that scientists could fully recreate dinosaurs by using trace strands of dino-DNA. Life itself held within a micro collection tube. It’s an amazing thought, and at the moment, a mere hypothetical. And that’s the key phrase: at the moment. Even in the 1980s scientists were seriously considering the possibility of “de-extinction”, and one extinct species of mountain goat was actually brought back to life in the form of a clone (for a grand total of seven minutes) in 2003. So while at the time of writing, the genetic recreation as shown in the movie is impossible –– that might not always be the case. And that’s what makes a movie like Jurassic Park so special. Despite some of its scientific shortcomings, the fact that it has inspired a generation of scientists is a remarkable feat worth celebrating.