Paleontologist Says Dinosaurs in Jurassic World Should Have Feathers
If there was one thing Jurassic Park got wrong, it was that the dinosaurs didn't have feathers, according to paleontologist Peter Larson.
Larson told Indiewire: "We didn't know at the time 'Jurassic Park' came out that, in all probability, every meat-eating dinosaur and these bird-mimic dinosaurs had feathers just like living birds. They're descendants, of course. We still have dinosaurs with us here today. And whether they lost those feathers as they became very large and didn't really need them for insulation anymore or whether they retained those feathers throughout their life, the truth was that they had feathers. Tyrannosaurus Rex is more closely related to a hummingbird than it is to a triceratops... So I'm hoping, keeping my fingers crossed, that the next 'Jurassic Park' comes out with a little different view of those dinosaurs. We know the CGI is going to be good. We know that. Which is fantastic. But I wanna see feathers."
(Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences/Dr Brian Choo)
Although it would be more accurate and certainly interesting, there's a good chance this won't come to fruition, as it may make the T-Rex look less intimidating. Our collective consciousness has not quite integrated feathers into our conception of these fearsome animals, and nothing will hurt the box office more than if their main attraction looks like Big Bird.
Larson also discussed the ways in which Jurassic Park, like so many works of sci-fi, predicted the future: "It's interesting how in 'Jurassic Park' the movie actually foretold science. They foretold the finding of this giant velociraptor because they made the raptors bigger than they were. But we had not yet found dromaeosaurid that was that big. And now we've found them of course! The most fantastic things are out there. It's ok to use your imagination, but don't forget what we've already learned."
Larson's other advice for Jurassic World? Get their biology right. "They should be careful on the various physiological things. For instance, the Camarasaurus in 'Jurassic Park' that sneezed onto the poor little girl was chewing the leaves that it was taking off the trees. Those particular dinosaurs did not chew their food. They swallowed it whole."
Larson acknowledged, however, that there was very real science behind Jurassic Park: "[Paleontologist] Bob Bakker actually helped [Spielberg] out by giving them measurements of Sue's skeleton." Sue is the best-preserved and most complete fossil of a T-Rex ever found. "He helped get the proportions right. So that 'Jurassic Park' T-Rex is patterned after Sue. Not too many people probably know that."
And, finally, he confirms that he's a fanboy: "When that came out, for the first time here were living dinosaurs. It was just like a dream come true for the little boy in me that, here you can really see them moving and they were so believable! So it was so inspirational... I can't wait to see Jurassic World."