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Should The Jurassic World Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

Should The Dinosaurs In Jurassic World Have Feathers?

One thing that’s striking about Jurassic World is it’s been 22 years since Jurassic Park, and our knowledge of what dinosaurs looked like has changed a fair bit in that time, but nothing seems to have been updated. They’re still ‘bald’. Was this the right move?

It’s clear that the Jurassic World story team are worried about over-familiarity. When we first saw dinosaurs on the big screen in 1993 it was an awe-inspiring bit of cinema. It made Jurassic Park the highest grossing film of all time. Since then, cgi dinosaurs have lost their impact, thanks to numerous TV shows and Jurassic sequels. The plot of World has the writers park officials concerned that dinosaurs no longer have a wow factor for audiences, so they create a made up dinosaur in the lab. But if you’re looking to introduce something not seen before, why not refer to the actual advances in our understanding of what dinosaurs looked like? – We now know for a fact that dozens of species has feathers, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that almost ALL dinosaurs had them.

On the official Jurassic World site it pictures the cast of dinosaurs in the movie – no feathers. And the director has confirmed the same. Instead they’re leaving all dino species looking as they were. The problem with the genetics lab mish-mash addition is the result looks almost exactly like the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park 3. This new dinosaur can also seemingly communicate with other dinosaurs, something that further stretches the suspension of disbelief – how many species on Earth can you draw up a plan with?

Instead, why not make the main threat this ancestor of the T-Rex they’ve actually found in China

Should The Dinosaurs In Jurassic World Have Feathers?

It’s familiar enough as a dinosaur, but also unnervingly different. And it moves our understanding of dinosaurs in popular culture forward. Part of the appeal of the first Jurassic Park was that its foot was as rooted in the science and research as it gets in cinema, and it showed us that dinosaurs weren’t the lazy big slow moving things they were generally perceived as by the public beforehand. After such a gap Jurassic World had the chance to change it again and difference could be have been explained by how the clones were developed in the park’s lab, with updated knowledge. This would have led to many interesting creature designs, you can do a lot with feathers in nature besides flying. As an example, a updated look like this for the raptors –

Should The Dinosaurs In Jurassic World Have Feathers?

I’m not saying I think all the dinosaurs in Jurassic World should have been heavily feathered, current thinking is the feathers on a (non-arctic) T-Rex were like the hair on an elephant anyway, sparse and only semi-developed. But some of them could have gone quite far.

Would you have been more intrigued by ‘feathered dragons’?

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11 Comments »

  • G said

    They knew that Velociraptor’s were the size of a turkey back in 1993, but went ahead with those rugby player sized reptiles anyway. So I don’t think accuracy is a concern for them.

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      It was a fairly minor cheat on the scale of things, the ‘raptors are the size of turkeys’ thing is itself a misconception. Some are. Crichton merged a few similar types with an educated guess, Spielberg scaled it up and sure enough soon after the film came out they discovered a new skeleton of a ‘super-slasher’ raptor that was even bigger than the one in the movie.

      Besides this is not just about the new movie embracing core facts, it’s that by doing so it gives us something new and cool that we haven’t seen, maintains our suspension of disbelief and advances public understanding.

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      • G said

        Good points, but whenever some thinks about dinosaurs they think, big, scales, teeth,(or in the case of some 60’s and 70’s adventure films, iguana’s with horns glued on) and adding feathers to them would just go against all the previous 3 films and every other perception of dinosaurs in popular culture. People will be like, “you knew how to clone a dinosaur from the blood of a prehistoric mosquito, but you didn’t know they had feathers?”
        It wouldn’t work. Not for a sequel.

        A reboot or completely new movie franchise. Sure. Bring it on

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        • Sheridan Passell said
          Sheridan Passell

          That’s the thing, Jurassic Park 1 was such a success in part because rather than go along with the perception of dinosaurs it updated that. Audiences were surprised and taken aback. Jurassic World had a chance to do the same, albeit to a lesser degree. It wouldn’t go against the previous films because you just have the lab say they developed the latest embryos in line with updated understanding. If it was for Jurassic Park III then I would say no but Jurassic World is effectively a reboot 10 years on and every dinosaur in the park can be a fresh one.

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          • G said

            Studios aren’t going to take that sort of risk. Doing a fresh take on something? pfft… Crazy talk.

            Just look at all the latest movies with dinosaurs. The remake of Land of the Lost. The remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Dinosaur Project.

            All really new. All have featherless dinos.

            You would have to find someone with a lot of guts to go against the grain of a 100 years of dinos on screen. And even if you found that person, the studio suits would shut it down.

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          • vestigial said

            From what I recall, one of the innovations JP brought to dino simulation was not only the speed of movement, but the *manner* of movement. Going from the information that birds were closely related to dinosaurs, many of the dinosaurs walked with a bird-like gait.

            I don’t know if feathered dinosaurs would fly with the public. Dinosaurs have a peculiar hold over the imaginations of children, and I think part of that fascination has to do with their lack of hair or feathers — things we associate with “softness.” Whereas most of the 3-year-olds I see want to stomp around the room like a T-Rex. Adding feathers would probably lessen the appeal.

            But it’s somethign that the creative and marketing team should have explored… maybe they did. I know as an adult, I’d like to see feathered dinosaurs — at the very least to see something new — but also to bring movies closer in line with science.

            It might be too soon in the public imagination for science. Heck, in America, we’re still arguing about evolution and climate change. Bald dinosaurs are the least of our science-education problems.

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  • gd smith said

    Life evolves to suite the environment and prey of the time. Jurassic Park takes all sorts of liberties. Generally speaking animals like T Rex were much slower than in the film because the prey they lived on was also slow. As for the idea of feathers, there’s a lot of evidence for them, but my guess is they try to make these creatures look more aesthetic than they may have been. What if fore instance they looked like sort of like vultures or turkeys with wattles and ruffs rather than nice neat skin or evenly distributed plumage, but then again they were not birds

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  • G said
  • daniel said

    Its a science fiction action film, there’s no need to follow the idea of feathers on dinosaurs and in the movie he even said if the DNA from the dinosaur was all there they would look much different, and the Idominus Rex looks nothing like a spinosaurus, the movie is amazing, screw the bad comments and what people have to say and enjoy it. for crying out loud.

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  • JP said

    Movie-moron: ahead of the scientists all the way:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33510288

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      Interesting. Tried to warn you all. Great nightmarish picture. Big, fluffy birds from hell. If the Jurassic movies ignore it, another film will embrace it full on soon enough. Jurassic World’s awe moment was seeing the park, it should have been seeing the dinosaurs…

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