I Was Right. This Will Suck

Courtesy of Universal

Remember the other day, when I reported that Colin Trevorrow had been picked at the director of Jurassic Park 4. And that I said his selection wasn't one of my problems with the film.

His selection is now one of my problems with the film. Why? Because he tweeted, rather curtly, that the dinosaurs in the film will have “No feathers.”

 I am not pleased by this. First off, it doesn't exclude other theropods, but it just certainly suggests that yet again, the major players of the film will be the T-rex, and Spielberg's raptor (I hate to identify it as any specific species, as it matches none of them, even the Utahraptor).

For decades, dinosaurs were regarded as slow moving, docile (even the carnivores) reptiles that shuffled through jungle and waded in ponds. Right up to the edge of the nineties this was the commonly held public conception of the animals, largely due to how the animals were portrayed in books and in films like King Kong, One Million B.C., and all the various Lost World films. Look in any standard dinosaur encyclopedia from any time before 1995, and your see ridged, hulking beasts.

But after Jurassic Park came out, the public saw dinosaurs in a new way. The T-rex went from looking like he did on the left, to how he did on the right.

Museums, many of which had already begun to change their displays to match scientific consensus, all conformed to the new model. If not, they heard complaints. The public image changed to match the scientific consensus, almost entirely due to the film. Certainly, raptors owe their entirely popularity to the success of the film series, as do general knowledge of animals like Brachiosaurs, Dilophosaurus (misinformation and all) and the last film's "hero", Spinosaurus.

So, the growing consensus amongst paleontologists (who, remember, at the time of the first film's release still didn't agree that dinosaurs were related to birds, something that is scientific fact now) is that the majority of theropods had feathers. We know this because of feather evidence left in fossils. There is a real chance that T-rex actually looked like this:

(Some evidence suggests that larger animals like T-rex might have not been fully feathered, supporting more of a mane, or might have only had a feathery down during adolence, that they shed later in life. Raptors though were almost certainly covered). This is fact. This is a reality that people must come to grips with. But, just as before, when the idea of dinosaurs being agile, quick creatures was written off as ridiculous and fanciful, so too is the idea of the bird-like dinosaur. That they somehow are a less menacing giant turkey now.

I feel, aside from entertainment, the film has a responsibility, as the most powerful distributor of the image of dinosaurs, to reflect the current research. They tried on it in JP3, and it was a laughable attempt, with little head sprouts a superfluous touch. People in the general community need to accept that this is how things were 65 million years ago and older, and just because it runs counter to what they think it normal (because a film told them so twenty years ago) doesn't make reality wrong. The new film, whatever else it becomes, had a chance to help shift the public perception yet again.

And it won't. Because there is a chance the dinos could look "weird." Now, they won't look weird, they'll just look wrong.

(I am aware that a throw away line could be added explaining that InGen genetically engineered the animals featherless to conform with the public conception of the dinosaurs. This would both be acceptable and a cop-out. It also wouldn't feed my rage as well.)

Via The Mary Sue.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


  1. One thing Jurassic Park did was get more kids interested in dinosaurs, or at least, I hope, make it more acceptable to be a dino-nerd. On one hand, the films are fun, stupid action films, and people who are really interested in dinosaurs will know for themselves the difference between fiction and reality, but then again it might be great to see the franchise remade to fit with the recent discoveries that have been made about the tyrannosaur family and other dinosaurs, as well as using real information (which is probably more exciting than anything you could make up anyway) as part of the storyline.
    The problem is, the films would have to be totally remade - because how else would the series suddenly start throwing feathered tyrannosaurs at the audience? Especially after that line you mentioned. Perhaps they could do it with some good writing, but I'm not sure 'good writing' and 'Jurassic Park' are two things actually known to each other. Creating a'made-up’ dinosaur really irked me, for example, because there are still a lot of real, scary-ass dinosaurs that hadn’t been showcased in the storylines. And using trained Raptors as war-weapons? Really? Okay. Sure. I’m just going to go for motorbike ride with my Raptor-bro’s now.