How scientifically accurate is Jurassic World?

Fans of Jurassic Park will remember how the roaring dinosaurs shocked us out of our seats and pulled us back into an exciting expedition. When Jurassic World was released we were thrilled as our favourite adventure theme park opened its gates to a 3D experience, making the ancient giants come alive on the big screen.

Marvelling at their enormity, we wondered if we could somehow get around the flaws of the genetic science that the Jurassic series rests on, and actually bring them back. Is this then what it might be like? Well, not exactly.

As it turns out, there’s room for debate on what exactly the dinosaurs looked like. However, scientists can agree that some film depictions are more accurate than others. When it comes to Jurassic World, its accuracy even varies from dino to dino. In this video, Dustin Growick from YouTube channel The Dinosaur Show listed these Jurassic stars from least to most accurate:

1. Mosasaur

1This was an impressive monster in the film, but for dramatic effect it was made to be 3-4 times larger in the film than it would have been in reality. It is hard to know whether to be relieved or disappointed.
There is also no evidence that they would be able to jump out of the water at the height they did in the film, although the teeth on the roof of their mouth are accurately portrayed.

2. Pterosaur

2Again, the film exaggerates their size. Pterosaurs also had paper thin bones, and therefore certainly wouldn’t have the strength to be able to carry people as shown in Jurassic World. No free rides here, unfortunately!

3. Velociraptor

3There is an explanation for the velociraptors’ inaccuracies, as they had to be kept similar to the ones in the Jurassic Park series. However, scientists have discovered that they were likely covered in feathers which of course aren’t shown. The film also indicates that they can run 40-60mph, but this is (un)fortunately impossible. And they were also a lot smaller in real life. There seems to be a pattern developing here…

4. Tyrannosaurus Rex

4The king of dinosaurs was the one of the most accurately portrayed, apart from – I’m sure you can guess – its size was exaggerated for the film.

5. Stegosaurus

5This dinosaur is commonly depicted in a misleading way. While its plates are in the correct position along the spine, they would not necessarily be upright. As the plates were embedded in the skin they would lie flat most of the time, unless they were courting or scaring away a predator.

6. Apatosaurus and Triceratops

6These horned dinosaurs were more or less accurately portrayed in terms of size, but they could have been more colourful.

7. Gallimimus

7The “chicken mimic” was correct in terms of size, but would have had feathers in real life.

8. Ankylosaur

8These armoured lizards were in fact the correct size and colour – down to the spikes.

9. Indominus Rex

9As scientists in the film created this dinosaur from scratch, this big brute is total fiction. Again, are we relieved or disappointed? Hard to say.

 

The biggest problem with the most of these dinosaurs seems to be their size, which has more often than not been exaggerated for the Hollywood blockbuster effect. Whether or not you are pedantic about dinos  and appalled at the lack of feathers in this film, there is consolation in its popularity: Jurassic World has renewed fans’ interest in dinosaurs, and installed the love for them in a new generation.

 

Natasha Khaleeq and Zoë Öhman are both studying for an MSc in Science Communication.

Images: Screenshots from Jurassic World and the Jurassic Park films, by Universal Studios. Featured image by Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

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