The prologue for Jurassic World Dominion shows a glimpse of dinosaurs living in their natural habitat 65 million years ago, but is it an accurate representation based on science or silver screen fantasy? We asked Joe Bonsor, a dinosaur expert and Palaeontolgist for the Natural History Museum in London and University of Bath, to give us his thoughts.
Pterosaurs didn’t have feathers like birds have today, but they’re a sort of sister relative.
“This looks like a very large type of Pterosaur called Azhdarchid, and this one is probably a quetzalcoatlus, which is the largest of the Azhdarchid that we know of. Its behaviour looks good – it’s gliding rather than flapping. The others in the background are walking on all four limbs, despite having these membranes, and we know that quetzalcoatlus probably spent more time on land than it did at sea.
“Some of the other Pterosaurs we know fed from the sea whilst in flight, but these larger ones were terrestrial and probably ate other small dinosaurs, lizards, and tiny mammals. It looks like these pterosaurs have been given some kind of fibre coating – the pterosaurs didn’t have feathers like birds have today, but they’re a sort of sister relative. They would have had some sort of coating on their body, not fur, not feathers, but an early relative of those two things.
“[Its tail] seems little bit long for me. In reconstructions based on fossil evidence they kind of have a little stub. They would have a tail in as much as a turkey does, if you take all the feathers off. It would be a little nub, I doubt they’d have a big, dog-like tail. I don’t see what purpose that would serve. If they’ve evolved that far to have complex flight and big membranes, that would probably have gone.”
Oviraptor got a lot bad press when it was first discovered. It’s name literally means ‘egg thief’.
“This is the oviraptor, which is an egg thief. This is a classic misconception about the oviraptor. It got a lot of bad press when it was first discovered. It’s name literally means ‘egg thief’ and it was discovered next to a clutch of broken eggs, so paleontologists assumed it would steal and eat eggs to survive. It wouldn’t be unheard of – a lot of lizards and reptiles do eat eggs. Subsequent finds have discovered that the oviraptor was actually sitting on its own clutch of eggs – it wasn’t eating other dinosaur eggs, it was caring for its own.
“I like the way they’ve given it a full coating of feathers and a full bushy tail feather, that is accurate from what I know.
“You can forge this narrative that there are goodies and baddies, and in nature in general different groups of animals can be perceived as good or bad. To us they’re just animals, they’re not evil or good, they’re just doing animal things. They’re just trying to survive. Some dinosaurs probably would have fed from eggs – it doesn’t mean they’re nasty, it’s just the thing they’ve evolved to eat.”
One of them has a broken horn – we know they would have used them in mating displays.
“You can tell it’s a Nasuoceratops from the styling of the frill around its head and the direction its horns are pointing in. One of them has a broken horn – we know they would have used them in mating displays or for fighting, kind of like rutting stags would. It also shows them migrating, much like buffalo and other herds of animals do today, which is a cool touch.”
“It’s good to see they’ve given it a full coating of feathers, which these dinosaurs would have.”
“This looks like Moros Intrepidus, which is one of the newest dinosaurs we’ve named. It’s a really small theropod meat-eating dinosaur. It’s good to see they’ve given it a full coating of feathers, which these dinosaurs would have. It’s cleaning the teeth of this other animal – sure, why not, a lot of smaller animals do that. We see that with crocodiles today – some species of bird will pick the meat out of the teeth of the crocodile, so that’s perfectly reasonable as far as I’m concerned.”
Iguanodon had large thumb spikes, which it would use for defence.
“This is one of my favourite dinosaurs. It’s a large herbivorous dinosaur from the cretaceous. It had these large thumb spikes, which it would use for defence and maybe for digging around in the ground.”
Giganotosaurus lived about 30 million years before T Rex, so they would never have met in real life.
“This looks like a Giganotosaursus, which is one of the largest predator theropod dinosaurs that we know about. It’s about to have a fight with a T-Rex, which is a bit odd because Giganotosaurus was about 30 million years before T Rex, so they would never have met in real life and they lived on different continents.”
They’ve given the T-Rex some sort of fluffy, feathery coating, which is exactly how we think it would’ve looked.
“Interestingly, they’ve given the T Rex some sort of fluffy, feathery coating, which is brilliant to see because that’s exactly how we think it would’ve looked. It probably would’ve had a bit more than that to be honest – I guess they don’t want to deviate too much from what we would expect the T-Rex to look like.
“It also looks like they’ve improved the positioning of its arms slightly. One of the main things they got wrong in the earlier films was the positioning of dinosaur arms and hands – they would have been more to the side than held out in front of them, and it looks like they’ve addressed that a little bit here.
“I’m guessing that is the mosquito that bites the T-Rex that then leads to the Jurassic Park T-Rex. In reality these mosquitoes are going to go from one animal to the next and have a little drink from each one, so if we did find one that had blood in, it would be a mix anyway. Without knowing the genetic code of the animal we wouldn’t be able to know which one it was from, so it would be like this super blood and wouldn’t be very helpful. The blood inside a mosquito isn’t going to survive 65 million years sadly. It’s a cool concept, but…”
“I think they’re trying to show a generalised impression of what the cretaceous period was like.”
“It looks like all the dinosaurs from the prologue are from the cretaceous period. The cretaceous period was a really long period of time, about 18 million years. Some of these dinosaurs are from the beginning of the cretaceous period and some are from the very end. Iguanodon is from about 125 million years ago, and that was next to a Giganotosaurus, which is from about 90 million years ago, which was fighting a T Rex which was from 65 million years ago. They were all separated by tens of millions of years, so would never have met in real life. But I think they’re trying to show a generalised impression of what the cretaceous period was like. Where they would have lived looks perfectly reasonable to me.”
PRESENT DAY T-REX
“Some dinosaurs had cheeks and some didn’t, and there’s also a debate as to whether they had lips as well.”
“I presume this is the T-Rex that was let loose at the end of the second Jurassic World. It’s a scared animal that doesn’t know where it is or what’s going on. This version of the T-Rex doesn’t have a coating of feathery fluff over its body, so either it’s something they might explain in the film, but is probably something they didn’t know back when they made the original Jurassic Park films but they know now.
“Some dinosaurs had cheeks and some didn’t, and there’s also a debate as to whether they had lips as well. Unfortunately, we’ll never know about a lot of those soft body parts. We’ve based a lot of what we know on animals today, so crocodiles have this bit of flesh between the upper and lower jaw that joins them together. But they don’t have cheeks, their teeth are exposed. Crocodiles and alligators also don’t have lips, so this is probably based on what we know today, and sometimes we have to make those jumps.”
“This prologue feels a little bit different from the previous films. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they translate this footage, which has a bit more realism and some more recent discoveries, into those more modern dinosaurs from the film. It’ll be interesting to see how they strike a balance between the actual science and their creations.
“For me, the biggest thing is the feathers on the theropods, the two-legged meat-eating dinosaurs. The raptors are generally just naked, just skin. Perhaps it’s because they don’t look as scary covered in feathers, but I think it would be quite scary – a six-foot tall chicken with razor claws chasing you! You’d still run away.”
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