Eventually at some time or another, somebody has to imagine what a dinosaur looks like. Maybe it is a Paleontologist, maybe it is an Artist, maybe it is a Movie Maker. Basically, everyone is entitled to deciding in his or her mind what a dinosaur may look like. How do we form these ideas, though? And on what information are these ideas based on? The “picture” of the dinosaur – whether it’s in our mind, on paper or a motion picture film – helps us to understand how these animals behaved.
Ideas about how dinosaurs looked have changed over the years as our research improves. There’s a sort of partnership between paleontology, painting and movies: they help to define each other. The paleontologist digs up the bones, the artist paints a painting, and the filmmaker brings it to “life.” Then everyone complains about how silly the movie dinosaurs look (or do they?) and little by little, things improve.
Since movies are the venue through which most of society gains its ideas of what dinosaurs look like, it seems appropriate to address the topic of how dinosaurs are depicted on the big screen and whether or not those depictions are correct.
Some of the most popular film portrayals of dinosaurs are the Jurassic Park movies. The dinosaurs shown seem to be actually living and partaking in all of the activities shown – everything from the opening of doors, running 50 miles per hour, the elaborate hunting tactics, to tapping their toes, everything is incredibly realistic. Or is it?
According to a website known as Dino Buzz, which is an offshoot of a UC Berkeley site, many of the portrayals of the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park III were inaccurate; some ideas wer...
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... what Velociraptors were like – for the most part. It allows the audience to form thoughts and ideas about how these animals might have moved, hunted, etc. Of course, as in all movies, the “facts” presented should not be taken as the absolute truth. Only science can determine whether or not a Velociraptor could move at 50 miles per hour, open doors, or tap its toe – not Steven Spielberg.
Dino Buzz: Current Topics Concerning Dinosaurs. UCMC Berkeley.
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/buzz/popular.html. (February, 2005). (Last accessed on February 6, 2005).
What is a Raptor? Poling, Jeff. http://www.dinosauria.com/jdp/dromey/raptor.htm.
(1996). (Last accessed on February 6, 2005).
Dromaeosaurid Anatomy. Holtz, Thom Jr.
http://www.dinosauria.com/jdp/dromey/dromey.htm. (1995). (Last accessed on
February 6, 2005).
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