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In Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, dinosaurs come to life on the big screen for audiences' worldwide. Millions have watched this film, but what number of them have halted to wonder at the truth behind the story? How many have stopped to think whether the dinosaurs are portrayed correctly within a scientific aspect? Unbeknownst to many, there are a number of mistakes in Spielberg's film regarding the dinosaurs, from how they were recreated to their common names.
One prominent flub that is witnessed throughout the duration of the film, besides the fact that most of the dinosaurs are from the cretaceous period, is the fact that it remains impossible to bring dinosaurs back to life. Dinosaurs are extinct! They have been extinct for 65 million years. True, one would need dinosaur DNA to recreate dinosaurs, and it is indeed possible for mosquitoes with the DNA of dinosaurs to have been trapped in hardening amber, as seen in the film. However, it is impossible for scientists today to find hardened amber with dinosaur DNA in it, simply because DNA does not last; it degrades over time (even in preserved amber). Just the tiniest bit of degradation would ruin its value (UCMP 1995). Therefore, you would not have the starting point for proceeding with such an endeavor as the scientists inaccurately accomplish in Spielberg's film: the breeding of dinosaurs.
Continuing on with the amber, the film claims that it was discovered in a Dominican mine. Dominican amber mines are scientifically aged at the Miocene and Oligocene epochs (French 1998). These epochs take place later than 65 million years ago, roughly from 38 to 5 million years ago, which in turn means that dinosaurs were most likely not around when this specific amber was formed. Remains of dinosaurs have only been found from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceuos periods, from 251 to 65 million years ago.
Another fact of fiction in this film involves the truly terrifying velociraptors. These specific dinosaurs are nicknamed "raptors", a name that now refers to the entire family of dinosaurs, not just the velociraptor as indicated in the film. In science before the film, the name "raptor" identified birds of prey.
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These are just a few mistakes that have been researched concerning the science behind Spielberg's Jurassic Park. Yes, there are many more, but a majority of the audience does not seem to mind. The film is a great spectacle with amazing special effects; it is just a movie, based on a fictional novel by Michael Crichton, after all.
Franczak, B. (1996). Raptor wrong [WWW Document]. URL http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/1997Aug/msg00167.html
French, D. (1998). Jurassic park-continuity errors [WWW Document]. URL http://freespace.virgin.net/david.french/jurassic.htm
Turner, G. (1988). Film as social practice. London and New York: Routledge.
University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, the. (1995). Are movies science? Dinosaurs, movies, and reality [WWW
Document]. URL http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/buzz/popular.html