Stan Winston’s JP3 pterosaur – What kind is it?

Jurassic Park III included a Pteranodon-like pterosaur attacking our intrepid heroes in a sort of a giant “bird” cage. On YouTube you can find an early test (Fig. 1) of this mechanized toothless pterosaur suit. In the film, teeth were added.

Stan Winston Pteranodon suit for Jurassic Park 3.

Figure 1. Stan Winston Pteranodon suit, sans teeth, for Jurassic Park 3. Click to see video. There appears to be a man inside and also one outside working the jaws, I suppose, with radio controlled servos. Note the big feet, large enough to house a person. The elbows are turned out obscenely laterally, which rotates the fingers anteriorly, which seems right, but is wrong. And finally, there’s that wrinkly blanket-like web membrane that refuses to go away.

So, is this Pteranodon? Looks close. Here’s a reconstruction of a real Pteranodon for comparison (Fig. 2) where a longer beak, a longer metacarpus and a shorter forearm (antebrachium) are present.

The Triebold Pteranodon, one of the most complete ever found.  The metacarpals are quite a bit longer here. So is the beak.

Figure 2. The Triebold Pteranodon, one of the most complete ever found. The metacarpals are quite a bit longer here. So is the beak.

For comparison, here’s a toothy, short metacarpal ornithocheirid, Anhanguera (Fig. 3). Like the JP3 pterosaur, this one has a longer antebrachium and shorter metatarsus.

Anhanguera and Ludodactylus (skull), two short metacarpal pterosaurs with teeth.

Figure 3. Anhanguera and Ludodactylus (skull), two short metacarpal pterosaurs with teeth.

The metacarpals, antebrachia and skull size of this ornithocheirid pterosaur are closer to the Stan Winston version. Teeth were also added in the movie version creating a specimen very much like the later discovered crested ornithocheirid, Ludodactylus (Fig. 3 upper, smaller skull).

 Jurassic Park 3 logo, including a nice Pteranodon in ventral view with narrow chord wings.

Figure 4. Jurassic Park 3 logo, including a nice Pteranodon in ventral view with narrow chord wings. Compare this to the Pteranodons in the PterosaurHeresies masthead (the faux book cover). Later I spread the legs and added uropatagia.

Movie-makers have often taken liberties with their dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Rather than bitching about ’em, you just gotta love ’em and snicker if you’re “in the know.” Here’s the scene, again from YouTube, of the JP3 pterosaurs in action (Fig. 5).

Click to play. Pterosaurs attacking our heroes in Jurassic Park 3.

Figure 5. Click to play. Pterosaurs attacking our heroes in Jurassic Park 3.

2 thoughts on “Stan Winston’s JP3 pterosaur – What kind is it?

  1. It’s a movie Pterasour. Just like the Spinosaur is a movie Spinosaur. The production had dinosaur expert Jack Horner as a consultant. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and as you pointed out artistic liberties were taken. I worked on JP3 and am the guy in the suit for the test and in the film. A lot of new ground was broken as far as materials, but Mother Nature is a much better artist than we are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.