When the Jurassic World trailer dropped, reactions abounded across the Twitter, and none were so controversial as those espoused by Scientists. Dinosaur Nerds are going Mad over it. The surprising thing is not so much the criticism itself, but the quandary it reveals for anybody aiming to revive long extinct animals.
There are two types of people, those who are angry about Greedo shooting first, and the ones who don't care, which of those groups are the biggest Star Wars geeks ?
People don't always nitpick things because they hate them, sometimes they do it because they love them too much. Paleontologists tend to be Jurassic Park's biggest and most obsessive fans. Which is why they take their cherished franchise so seriously. So to say that these scientists "Hate Jurassic World" is an exaggeration. Nevertheless, if these scientists who have dedicated their lives to the study of Dinosaurs have something to say about their representation, it's worth hearing them out.
Alright, this one didn't appear in the trailer, but it's one that has always bothered me. Because all vertebrate vision is based on movement. Right now your eyes are constantly moving over this article and the world in front of you. These rapid eye movements are called Saccades, and they help you build up a three dimensional image of the world in front of you.
But let's imaging for a second that the T-Rex didn't have these miniature Eye movements ? In that case, it could easily fix the problem by moving it's head around. Which is why the doofus isn't faceplanting into trees and electric fences and other inanimate objects.
Okay, then let's assume what we see in the movie is true, and that Dr Grant Mis-spoke, and what he really meant was that the "T-Rex assumes anything that doesn't move isn't edible". The moment it kills it's prey, it no longer sees it anymore. It'd only be able to get one bite in before its meal disappears. No wonder the poor dumb bastard's always hungry.
But then again, that fictitious factoid gave us one of the most tense moments in Jurassic Park.
To be fair, crane flies do look a lot like gigantic nightmare mosquitoes. In reality, all they do is drink Nectar. So why would these be on the desk of a scientist at Jurassic World ?
It's been established in the first movie that Jurassic Park isn't just in the business of resurrecting Dinosaurs, it attempted to resurrect the whole ecosystem. It's entirely possible that they could be attempting to recover DNA from plants of that era by using Crane Flies.
If we are to believe that the researchers at InGen can resurrect the dinosaur from the blood from the gut of a Mosquito, then why not from the stomachs of other biting insects ? Carrion flies feasting on the corpses of dinosaurs could potentially be full of dino DNA.
Jurassic Park came out at the beginning of what was to become a golden age in Paleontology. It may surprise some of the younger folk here, but the Dinosaurs I grew up with were slow cold blooded beasts. Jurassic Park set itself apart. These weren't your grandad's old fusty lumbering giants. They had a T-Rex that could outrun a car, Velociraptors that could open doors and outsmart you. Jurassic Park's Dinosaurs that had much more in common with birds than any previous depiction.
Which posed a problem for Jurassic World. Do they stay true to the first movie, or do they try to keep up with the Science ?
Let's see what the director of Jurassic World has to say:-
"Velociraptor is the Tonya Harding of Dinosaurs"
This is probably the oldest Jurassic park nitpick. Real Velociraptors were the sizes of dogs. The truth is that the dinosaurs we see in Jurassic Park more closely resembled a larger dinosaur called Deinonychus (Die-NON-ik-us) , which whilst cool had a rubbish name. Micheal Crichton even ret-conned this as a Taxonomy fail on the part of the characters in the story.
So even though Deinonychus is the cooler dinosaur, Velociraptor get's all the glory. But frankly, it's just name.
As humans, we are really spoiled when it comes to hands. We can turn our palms downwards and slap our thighs, and then turn them inward to applaud the fact that I'm getting to the end of this unnecessarily long sentence.
Velociraptors don't have that range of movement. Their joints don't bend that way. Instead, their palms always point inwards. What's weirder is that they could fold back in on themselves, like a bird's wings. Which means they are much better at grabbing things in front of them, like their screaming victims.
Look, they may be endangered, but how else are you going to make the point that "My Monster's Better than your Monster"?
Peter Benchley and Steven Spielberg taught us that the Great White Shark is the most terrifying predator of the sea, which is why it's used as a benchmark to show you how much more afraid you need to be of their monster.
In a world where genetic engineers can bring dinosaurs back from the dead, will people care about extinction ?
If the great white sharks were to disappear, InGen can always whisk up a new batch. Extinction is how they make their money, so why would they care about conservation ? Why would anyone care now that species can be easily be recovered from extinction?
Mosasaurs are air breathing animals that live in the sea, sort of like whales. Do whales get mosquito bites ? Turns out, yes they do. Tow Killer whales have died in captivity due to mosquito borne diseases.
Water reptiles could get stranded and undergo a slow agonizing death under an unforgiving sun just like whales do today.
Flies, mosquitoes and other scavengers can be attracted to the stench of death and feed off of this giant. Based on the already established rules of this universe, it is entirely possible for a mosquito to drink the blood from this creature.
Technically that isn't a dinosaur. It's a marine reptile that's descended from a different line of reptiles. It's thought to be closely related to monitor lizards, snakes and a number of other creatures, which all have one thing in common: Forked Tongues.
If all of it's close relatives have forked tongues, then it's a fair guess that Mosasaurs have forked tongues as well. Which means as well as being terrifying shark eating monsters, they may already have a career in politics.
Yeah, people used to think mosasaurs had these crazy back frills. But it turns out, this is a hundred year old mistake where a scientists accidentally got one bone confused for another. So there has been this idea floating around that mosasaurs are big and scaly.
Which is why the Jurassic park mosasaur looks more like this
In truth, they were probably a lot more streamlined, and there is evidence that they had shark fins, meaning that the creature should probably look a lot more like this:
So I bet those crazy film makers added some crazy extra teeth inside it's mouth just for the hell of it
Actually, those teeth are completely legit. They have shown up in mosasaur fossils, and their closest evolutionary relatives have them as well.
Which tells you everything you need to know about the movie. They're prepared to stick with the science so long as the science let's them put more teeth on their monsters.
"What John Hammond and InGen did at Jurassic Park is create genetically engineered theme park monsters! Nothing more and nothing less"
How do you re-create an extinct animal when you have only the barest of what it looks like ? You can go by the most up to date science, but that will only take you so far.
If your resurrected species turns out different from what you expect, from what all of the scientific literature says, what are you going to assume ? That all contemporary science is wrong, or that you messed up? Clearly, the engineers at Jurassic park went for the latter. If they saw a Tyrannosaur with feathers, they'd go right back to the drawing board to fix whatever went wrong.
Chris Pratt is very worried about the creation of a hybrid dinosaur. But all of the dinosaurs are hybrids, that's why they could switch sexes in the first movie. The real problem is that for the first time, they are being honest about the purpose to which they are putting these creatures: Entertainment.
Allow me to present you with an example. Look at the image below, and tell me what it is.
It's a Dodo ? Right ? Wrong !
It is a sculpture of what we think a Dodo looks like. There are no complete specimens of a Dodo anywhere. All we have are pictures drawn of them. We don't know whether they were as plump as this sculpture would have us believe. They probably didn't have white feathers. But we don't know.
So think about how we'd actually go about trying to resurrect it from DNA samples ? Our only references may not be as trustworthy as we think. We may never be able to tell whether we got it right.
If we go even further back, and try to resurrect species like the Mammoth, how accurately will the species we create reflect what they once were ? Or will they only reflect what we expect them to be based on our limited knowledge ?