At Jurassic World size matters (and so do feathers)

Everyone it seems
is excited by the prospect of a new Jurassic Park 4/Jurassic World movie coming this summer, June 12. While most will be wowed by the special effects (yours truly among them), there will be a few who will roll their eyes so far back inside their skull that they will actually see their brain.

Two issues to the forefront: size and feathers (Figs. 1-5).

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. The giant sea monster (not sure if this is a pliosaur or a mosasaur) is feeding on a great white shark.  Actual size comparisons below.

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. The Jurassic Park 4 giant sea monster (not sure if this is a pliosaur or a mosasaur) is feeding on a great white shark. Actual size comparisons below, from Giants and A Gallery of Dinosaurs by yours truly, 1986, 1989. Even the largest prehistoric sea monsters could not swallow an average great white shark whole. If the great white in JW is a typical 15 foot length, the skull of the monster is 2x or 30 feet in length. Based on the skull/neck ratio of the monster it appears to be a mosasaur possibly 250 feet long.

Bigger is better.
And let’s face it, we go to the movies to be thrilled. We go to the library to learn something. Here (Fig. 1) The JW sea monster (pliosaur? or mosasaur?) is a wee bit too large for our great white shark former supervillain, now relegated to being a prehistoric dog biscuit or sardine. Based on the skull/neck ratio of the monster it appears to be a mosasaur possibly 250 feet long.

Figure 2. Jurassic Park 4 giant Apatosaurus/Diplodocus-like sauropod. Inset, Diplodocus to scale.

Figure 2. Jurassic Park 4 giant Apatosaurus/Diplodocus-like sauropod. Inset, Diplodocus to scale.

Sauropods (Fig. 2), the largest of all land animals, are made twice their original size in Jurassic World.

Figure 3. Jurrasic Park 4 giant Stegosaurus (above, highlighted by Photoshop) and to scale with President Obama (below).

Figure 3. Jurrasic Park 4 giant Stegosaurus (above, highlighted by Photoshop) and to scale with President Obama (below).

Jurassic World Stegosaurus (Fig. 3) might be on the large side as well.

Figure 4. Here they got the scale right, but not the scales. Jurassic Park 4 scaly velociraptors (presumeably Deinonychus, above) and below feathered Deinonychyus (below) from A Gallery of Dinosaurs by David Peters, from 1989.  JP4 is at least 24 years behind in its depiction because I saw feathered 'raptors' in various books a few years before that.

Figure 4. Here they got the scale right, but not the scales. Jurassic Park 4 scaly velociraptors (presumeably Deinonychus, above) and (below) feathered Deinonychyus from A Gallery of Dinosaurs by yours truly from 1989. That means JP4 is at least 24 years behind in its depiction because I saw feathered ‘raptors’ in various books a few years before that.

The movie villains are here turned heroes as the scaly 2015 velociraptors are trained by the dude in the Paul Sereno vest (Fig. 4). Below a 1989 feathered Deinonychus. So the scale is right. The scales are wrong…

And finally, 
Look, out of the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No its a flock of pterosaurs (Fig. 5). At first they seem like Dimorphodon. And hey, look! They have a narrow chord wing membrane attached to the front of the femur. But wait! The shadow is gigantic and has no tail. Then the lightweight pterosaur grabs a much more massive primate on holiday and without even an umphhh takes its prey aloft using its feet, like an eagle does with a salmon. Let me say that again, “with a salmon.” Then the metacarpals are revealed to be elongate. Perhaps not as exciting as all that, a few to scale images of pterosaurs are also shown below.

Figure 5. Jurassic Park 4's giant Dimorphodon(?) (probably weighing 36 lbs) picking up a tourist (probably weighing 120 pounds) in a tribute to Raquel Welch and Faye Wray who were taken aloft by Pteranodon.  Below the rather feeble feet of several Pteranodon specimens, none of which had trenchant claws and mighty toe tendon anchors. These feet, some flat-footed others not, were made for walking. The foot of Dimorphodon with trenchant claws, but look how small it is to scale! Below that the even more feeble feet of the ornithocheirid Anhanguera.

Figure 5. Jurassic Park 4’s giant Dimorphodon(?) (probably weighing 36 lbs) picking up a tourist (probably weighing 120 pounds) in a tribute to Raquel Welch and Faye Wray who were taken aloft by Pteranodon. Below the rather feeble feet of several Pteranodon specimens, none of which had trenchant claws and mighty toe tendon anchors. These feet, some flat-footed others not, were made for walking. The foot of Dimorphodon with trenchant claws, but look how small it is to scale! Below that the even more feeble feet of the ornithocheirid Anhanguera.

To read Giants and A Gallery of Dinosaurs free online, click here.

Click here to see the Jurassic Park 4 trailer on YouTube.
Click here to see the Jurassic Park 4 SuperBowl trailer on YouTube.
See you at Jurassic World this summer!

 

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9 thoughts on “At Jurassic World size matters (and so do feathers)

  1. As much as I love mosasaurs, and as thrilled as I was to see a mosasaur in the upcoming movie, I said to myself “No mosasaur that ever lived was as big as THAT!” That sucker makes even the mighty Kronosaurus look puny. The largest mosasaur that I know of was Hainosaurus, which reached a maximum length of somewhere around 50-60 feet. And what’s with the crocodilian-like scutes on its back? Or is that the commonly-depicted dagged-style fringe running along the middle of the back often seen in old mosasaur illustrations? It’s hard to tell based upon the photo, but both are inaccurate.

  2. The Mosasaurus is big but just a bit larger than the largest reported size in litterature of 17.6 m (Jack Horner personnal communication). Everything else is…perspective is a bitch. There has been other moments in the trilogy were perspectibe was enlarging the size of the creatures.

    The great white can be a small individual as well. Anyway the website officially reports its size at 60 feet which is again reasonnable.7

    Also, Hainosaurus was downsized to 12.2 m (Lindberg 2002) whereas the largest mosasaur is still Mosasaurus hoffmanni (Lingham Soliar 1995) at 17.6 m.

  3. Genetic manipulation can = as large a size as they want AND dinos with whatever kind of integument they want: scales, feathers, fur and mixes of any and all of these.

    Frankly–and I’ll name a famous show here AND back up my contentions with examples should anyone wish to argue–the Jurassic Park/World movies often depict more accurate dinos than supposedly bonafide science documentaries. Most any dinosaur from the fictional franchise is designed better…more accurately–than the dinosaurs in the old BBC TV show Walking With Dinosaurs.

    Dinosaur Revolution does WAY better than the old BBC series, though most of their animals are VERY undernourished. March of the Dinosaurs did decent work. Hell’s Bells, even Disney’s often wrongly maligned Dinosaur was more accurate then WWD!

    VERY, VERY few paleo-artists, IMO, put enough meat on dino bones, though there is some wonderful work done on other fronts. David Peters here and David Krentz do fine work, as well as Mark Hallett, Michael Skrepnik, Donna Braginetz and a few others do interesting, accurate (at least for knowledge concurrent with when they did their restorations) and LIVELY work.

    So, I look forward to seeing Jurassic World, whose accuracy lacunae will not make me roll my eyes nearly as much as Walking With Dinosaurs did.

    P.S.– I enjoyed Walking With Dinosaurs a LOT! :o)

  4. While Jurassic World was not completely accurate with how dinosaurs looked, they do explicitly state that in the movie itself. Dr. Henry Wu says how they didn’t have the complete DNA for any of the dinosaurs, so they had to fill it in with other things. He says that had they not filled it in, the dinosaurs “would look very different”, and that they were trying for “cool, not realistic”

  5. Actually, the JW has a scene in which the real protagonist(trainer of deinonychus) tells the scientist that they’ve no proof that the dinosaurs really looked like that, ’cause they used frog DNA to fill the gaps. This leads to all the mis-match b/w real and JW dinos.

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