Ever since the first trailer, Jurassic World has been accused of scientific inaccuracy when it comes to its dinosaurs. Sure, they look the same as the creatures in the first Jurassic Park – but research has moved on since then, and scientists are disappointed that the film won’t reflect how they now think dinosaurs looked and behaved (such as turkey-sized, feathered velociraptors).
“The original film showed dinosaurs that were not simply roaring, scaly monsters but were active, social, bird-like animals with dynamic bodies,” Southampton University zoologist Darren Naish told The Sunday Times earlier this week.
“Now, Jurassic World is simply a dumb monster movie and there has been a deliberate effort to make its animals look different from the way we think they should.”
Other dinosaur experts and fans have made similar points over the last few months, leading director Colin Trevorrow to respond that “the film is scientifically ‘inaccurate’ because it is a science-fiction movie and not a documentary”. But as it turns out, the film itself explains the change in a key scene between park owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) and genetics specialist Dr Wu (BD Wong).
In a heated exchange over the escaped Indominus Rex – a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur that Wu created –the doctor points out that all the dinosaurs they’ve created are hybrids with other creatures’ DNA always “filling the gaps”. Fans will recall this detail from the original Jurassic Park, which spliced together dinosaur and frog DNA to bulk out the DNA sequence, and it seems like Wu (the only character to return from the original film to Jurassic World) has been carrying on ever since with other animals’ DNA as well.
Wu goes on to say that if the dinosaurs were constructed from their pure DNA they’d look “quite different”, so it’s his fault that the theme park’s inhabitants don’t resemble the dinosaurs in contemporary textbooks – and there are no tiny, feathered velociraptors.
You could see this as very meta – the park’s geneticists making dinosaurs look how the public expects just as the filmmakers have done – or simply as the film dodging an inconvenient truth. Either way: fake dinosaurs 1, science 0.