Steven Speilberg’s 1993 science fiction blockbuster, Jurassic Park, focuses on cloned dinosaurs, living in a wildlife park, that cause disastrous havoc. The first in a large, film franchise, this unforgettable, undying film brought dinosaurs to life.
A list of fun facts about Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs will thrill lovers of these fearsome, yet awe-inspiring reptiles.
At the top of the list is the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the king of all dinosaurs and undoubtedly, the most fearsome. Its Latin moniker, which means “Tyrant Lizard”, says it all. It lived throughout Western America, known as Laramida in ancient times. The giant lizard thrived during the Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago, and did well in the warm climate of the era.
The T-Rex belongs to the Tyrannosaurid family. Its members include the Alloramus, Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Daspletosaurus and the Tarbosaurus. Tyrannosaurus was the most imposing member. The largest T-Rex skeleton ever found was a massive 40 feet long. Named Sue after her discoverer, Sue Richardson, its head alone was about five feet. The creature’s muscle mass shows that it could run up to 25 miles per hour.
Though the T-Rex was a gargantuan beast, it had puny arms. Palaeontologists still do not know what the lizard used them for, but hunting was out of the question. Its speed and size were enough to serve that purpose. With a mouthful of serrated teeth, it ate herbivorous dinosaurs. David Burnham, a palaeontologist at the University of Kansas, showed a T-Rex tooth, embedded in duckbill dinosaur’s tailbone. This was proof that it was carnivorous.
Jurassic Park’s animators portrayed the T-Rex like its real-life counterpart. Like Sue, it was 40 feet long and had a hip length of 13 feet. Male T-Rex dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were Jade green with dark green stripes, while females were cinnamon with red stripes.
One of the most popular dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Velociraptor appeared in all films in the franchise. The “Swift Seizer” lived about 75 million years ago, during the warm Cretaceous period. A Dromaeosaurid like the Deinonychus and Achillobator, it was an animal that moved in a bipedal way, hopping, running and walking on its hind legs.
Small-sized, the bird-like dinosaur grew up to 6.8 feet in length. This minute creature was only 1.6 feet tall, but had a relatively large skull that measured 9.1 inches. It had two hand-like limbs and talons at the bottom of each foot. With serrated teeth, Velicoraptor was a carnivorous scavenger. It was the natural enemy of the Protoceratops, the ancestor of the Triceratops.
Palaeontologists believe that the Velicoraptor in Jurassic Park did not resemble its real-life counterpart. The movie depiction, modeled on Deinonychus, had a similar size and snout. It was also featherless, unlike the real Velociraptor. Critics speculate that the wrong identification of the Jurassic Park adaptation as a Velociraptor probably came about because Deinonychus was wrongly labeled as a subspecies of this dinosaur in certain publications.
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the present-day rhinoceros, the Triceratops also played an instrumental role in the the first Jurassic Park movie. Like the T-Rex and the Velociraptor, the Triceratops lived 68 million years ago, during the humid Cretaceous era. It inhabited what is presently North America.
True to its name, which meant “Three-horned face”, Triceratops had three horns, two above the eyes and a smaller one on its snout. It probably used its horns and frill for combat.
A ceratopsid, this large, bony dinosaur moved on four legs. Palaeontologists first discovered the humongous creature in 1887, and its fossils are now the most commonly recovered. About the size of an African elephant, it was roughly 30 feet long and weighed well over 11 000 pounds. It had a hoof on each of its legs.
The Triceratops that lived in Jurassic Park looked much like the real one. In the first film, it had a warm connection with Dr. Harding, who cared for it while it was sick.
The Stegosaurus, or roof lizard, appeared in all the Jurassic Park films. A Stegasorid dinosaur like the Chialingsaurus and Chukingosaurus, the Stegosaurus roamed all over present western North America. A specimen discovered in Portugal suggests that it lived in Europe as well. This herbivorous quadruped moved on four limbs.
Not intelligent, the Stegosaurus had a small brain the size of a Golden Retriever’s. Bony, it had plates covering the length of its body. What made this creature stand out were the spikes on its tail. Known as Thagomizers (after it was labeled as such in a Farside comic), Stegosaurs used these tails in combat.
A herbivore, the Stegosaurus consumed small rocks to crush the tough grass that it ate. Unlike other dinosaurs, the Stegosaurus had cheeks, allowing it to chew its food. Colorado, USA, has named the Stegosaurus its state dinosaur.
Jurassic Park’s Stegosaurus is much like the one everyone knows. In Jurassic Park, a protective female Stegosaurus tries to harm Sarah, who takes pictures of her baby.
Parasaurolophus, the “near crested lizard”, played a role as a victim of dinosaur hunters in Jurassic Park. A duck-billed ornithopod, it could move on two or four legs. Palaeontologists describe it as one of the more successful herbivores of the Mesozoic era. They recognize the Walkeri, Tubicen and Cyrtocristasus as three common sub-species of the Parasaurolophus. It was a relative of the Asian Charonosaurus.
This dinosaur used the backward-curving crest on its head to make loud, resonating mating calls. The crest also regulated its body temperature. Each crest was unique, and differentiated each Parasaurolophus from the rest of its herd. A herbivore, it used its narrow beak to grind vegetation. Its teeth grew throughout its life.
Although similar to the real Parasaurolophus, the ones in Jurassic Park only have a short cameo. A group of them is seen drinking from a lake in the first movie.
The Gallimimus, another bird-like, herbivorous dinosaur featured in the first Jurassic Park film, lived during the late Cretaceous era. About 26 feet long, it was a Theropod dinosaur that looked like an ostrich. Like an ostrich, it had a toothless beak, thin jaws and an incredibly long neck. It also had long tail that it used to keep its balance. A Polish expedition, led by Professor Zofia Kielan Jaworoska in 1963, dug up the first Gallimimus fossil remains in the Mongolian desert.
Palaeontologists single this dinosaur out for its speed. Like the Stegosaurus, it took in rocks to break down the vegetable matter that it consumed. Some scientists argue that it ate like a duck, using similar straining mechanisms to flush out edible organisms from water.
Jurassic Park portrayed Gallimimus dinosaurs realistically. To create the scene where a herd of Gallimimus dinosaurs try to escape a T-Rex, animators filmed themselves running like these creatures.
The Brachiosaurus has the honor of being the first dinosaur to appear in a Jurassic Park movie. The gigantic, Sauropod dinosaur, with a lizard-like anatomy, had a long neck and tail. It had a small head, and its legs looked like pillars. Elmer S Riggs discovered the first Brachiosaurus fossils in the Colorado river. They proved that the Brachiosaurus inhabited North America. Though its actual size is not clear, researchers calculate it as roughly 82 feet.
Warm blooded, its enormous size allowed it to keep a high body temperature. Researchers gauged the temperature as roughly 100.8 F. The dinosaur, however, had body mechanisms that cooled it down when necessary.
The Jurassic Park Brachiosaurus dinosaurs appeared, swimming in a river, in what was the 28th most magical moment in cinema. The film adaptation of the dinosaur was a close one.
Like the Gallimimus, the Dilophosaurus was a theropod dinosaur that lived in the early Jurassic era. It roamed South West America. Measuring a lengthy 23 feet, it weighed roughly 500 kilograms. In 1942, Palaeontologist Sam Welles uncovered the first Dilophosaurus fossils in the Kayenta Formation in Arizona.
The most distinct feature of this dinosaur was the pair of head crests on the top of its skull. No one knows what it used them for, but palaeontologists speculate that they were for mating.
Dilophosaurus, meaning “double crested lizard”, was not the only lizard with crests. It follows the Monolophosaurus, or the Single Crested Lizard and is an ancestor of the Trilophosaurus, or the Three-crested lizard.
The Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park was a flawed film adaptation. The film dinosaur sprayed venom from its frill, unlike the real Dilophosaurus, which had no venom at all that we know of. While the film showed that it had an expandable neck frill, the real dinosaur probably could not make his grow bigger. The dinosaur in the film was also too small.
Metriacanthosaurus, or the “moderately-spined lizard”, got its name because of the spines on its back. Like other carnivorous theropod dinosaurs, it was a large predator. It lived during the Jurassic period, about 160 million years ago, in the Western European woodlands. It measured roughly 25 feet and weighed about a ton.
Palaeontologists believe that it was a new species of Megaolosaurus, a bigger theropod. Its specific name, Megalosaurus Pakeri, is a tribute to W Parker, who discovered the first Metriacanthosaurus fossils near Jordan’s Cliff, Weymouth.
Audiences do not see it in Jurassic Park, though its name is visible on a vial in the cold storage room.
A bird-like, theropod dinosaur, Segiosaurus was a Coelophysoid, Widespread during the Early Jurassic period, it lived on all continents. Like other Coelophysoids, it was slender, yet carnivorous. In 1933, Max Littlesalt, a Navajo Indian, uncovered the first Segiosaurus fossils in Cococino County, Arizona.
Small, it was about the size of a goose. Bipedal, it moved on its hind legs, and measured about a meter. Light and nimble, it weighed a mere 4 kg and scavenged for meat. The long-tailed, three-toed creature had long forearms, probably used for catching small prey. Palaeontologists acknowledge its fast speed.
In the first Jurassic Park movie, its name appears briefly on a map of Isla Nebular.
One of the earliest dinosaurs, Herrerasaurus meant “Herrera’s lizard”. It got its name from an Argentinian goat herder, Victorino Herrera, who came across a fossil in 1959.
A member of Herrarasaurid family, it had an unusual anatomy. Its forelimbs moved like a modern pigeon’s. The structure may explain how avian creatures developed later.
A lightly built, bipedal dinosaur that scooted about on its hind legs, it was relatively small, at about 3 meters. It may have weighed roughly 210 kg and had a sliding lower jaw that helped it to snag prey.
It is not visible in the Jurassic Park movie, but its name shows on a map in the jeep’s brochure.
A small-sized dinosaur, the Proceratosaurus was a carnivorous theropod that moved like a bird. The small crest on its snout was a distinctive feature. A Ceolurosaur, it is a carnivore. Palaeontologists recovered the first fossils at a Michinhampton reservoir in 1910, proving that the dinosaur roamed throughout England.
This lizard was a fast and deadly creature, despite being little. A relative of the Chinese Guanlong and Russian Kileskus, this dinosaur evolved into the huge Tyrannosaurus.
It was not seen in Jurassic Park, though its name is on a cold storage vial in the movie.
A hefty dinosaur, Baryonyx was 30 feet long and weighed a startling 3700 pounds. It was Saurischian dinosaur, meaning that it had hips like a lizard’s. Fossils were first discovered in Dorking, England by an amateur hunter, William Walker, in 1983. This showed that Baryonyx traveled all over Europe. The name, Baryonyx, is Greek for “heavy claw.”
The Baryonyx was closely related to the Suchomimus, Carcharodontosaurus and the huge Spinosaurus. Like these other dinosaurs, it was an early ancestor of the crocodile and had a similar, narrow snout.
Piscivorous, this dinosaur fed on fish. It used its long, low snout, adapted to catch them. It had fine, sharp, serrated teeth in its narrow, angled jaws, twice as many as the T-Rex. This creature had gaff-hook-like claws that it used to secure its prey. Like an alligator, it lurked in river deltas.
In the first Jurassic Park film, Billy mentions the Baryonyx while trying to name the predator which attacked him. Its name also appears on the map of Isla Nebular.
Life-like adaptations of these dinosaurs continue to thrill dinosaur enthusiasts and fans of the Jurassic Park franchise.