WHEN it was first released during the summer of 1993, â€œJurassic Parkâ€ not only captured the imaginations of viewers with its dazzling special effects, it also made dinosaurs cool again, and made the public interested in paleontology.
â€œIt had a big influence on me in wanting to study Paleontology.â€ Dr. John Hutchinson, an evolutionary biomechanist and professor at the Royal Veterinary College in London, explained to Business Insider. â€œThe original film was a landmark in cinema, in many ways and also an important moment in Paleontology that influenced a lot of people including me.â€
Our understanding of dinosaurs has changed a lot in the 22 years since â€œJurassic Parkâ€ debuted in theaters. A few years after the first film came out, it was discovered that some dinosaurs were feathered. While you wonâ€™t find any feathers on the dinos in â€œJurassic Park,â€ the film does cling to the theory that dinosaurs had more in common with birds than reptiles.
â€œI bet youâ€™ll never look at birds the same way again,â€ Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) muses while watching a T. rex take a Gallimimus down.
In reality, the T. rex was still a flesh-eating carnivore. However, its actual feathered appearance diverges from the popular image of it as seen in â€œJurassic Park.â€
While some interpret that prehistoric beasts were covered entirely in feathers, others think the feathers were just â€œfilaments and strands,â€ as Dr. Mark Norell, current Chairman of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, tells Business Insider.
However, itâ€™s no longer just a theory that dinosaurs had bird-like features: It is a flat-out fact.
â€œThe distinction between what is a bird and what is a dinosaur has really gone away.â€ said Norell.
Hereâ€™s what T. rex looked like in â€œJurassic Parkâ€:
And this is what scientists today think the T. rex really looked like:
Take note of the small, feathered arms and bird-like feet:
T. rex was covered in feathers, and described sometimes jokingly by many as a â€œbig chicken.â€
Yet, the newly discovered physical appearance hasnâ€™t altered how the â€œJurassic Parkâ€ franchise has portrayed its dinosaurs.
In â€œJurassic World,â€ you will not find a single feather, but rather the same, reptile-like appearances found in previous films.
â€œJurassic Worldâ€ director Colin Trevorrow announced this in a simple way on Twitter in March 2013:
This decision goes beyond the justification of artistic license into what some paleontologists believe is scientific irresponsibility.
â€œWell, I understand the primary mission of the movie is to tell a story and everything has to lend itself towards telling that story,â€Hutchinson said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t contribute to telling the story in some way then itâ€™s not so important. But if part of the story and the selling point of the movie is â€˜this is a scientifically accurate, believable vision of what could be,â€™ then scientific accuracy begins to matter more and more.â€
Hutchinson notes the original film was praised by the scientific community for sticking to the science as much as humanly possible, with a notable exception.
â€œIf you are kind of marketing the movie as a scientific vision, then I think the â€˜Jurassic Parkâ€™ films have given up on that largely.â€ Hutchinson added.
Thereâ€™s no arguing that the T. rex of â€œJurassic Parkâ€ is terrifying. Some might believe adding feathers to it would have made it less scary, especially when a lot of scientists now compare it to a â€œbig chicken.â€
Hutchinson, however, believes the opposite.
â€œThereâ€™s still a significant sector of the public that donâ€™t like the idea of dinosaurs with feathers and think its less scary. But I think thatâ€™s totally wrong. If you actually put some thought into it you can make feathered dinosaurs incredibly terrifying.â€ Hutchinson said.
â€œI think any animal thatâ€™s over 40 feet long and 12 feet high at the hip, and has, you know, six inch long teeth, I mean, if it was in a clown suit it would still look scary.â€ Norell said.
If Spielberg and Trevorrow took these changes into account, it might have made for a stranger, more unique â€œJurassic Worldâ€ that completely veered away from the franchise.
However, just because paleontologists are displeased with the science, that doesnâ€™t mean that â€œJurassic Worldâ€ wonâ€™t be a fun time at the movies.
â€œYou know, people have to realize that these films are entertainment.â€ Norell said. â€œI remember back when one of the films came out several years ago, I said that these films are to Paleontology what â€˜Star Trekâ€™ is to Stephen Hawkingâ€¦Theyâ€™re not documentaries, theyâ€™re pure fantasies and storytelling. And when I say that, Iâ€™m not making a judgment on them at all because of course fantasy storytelling can be really great. Itâ€™s justâ€¦theyâ€™re not textbooks about dinosaur paleontology.â€
Feathers or not still wonâ€™t stop scientists from seeing â€œJurassic World.â€
When asked if he would go see â€œJurassic World,â€ Hutchinson succinctly answered, â€œSureâ€¦yeah.â€ – Business Insider