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What's wrong with the Velociraptor of Jurassic Park?


The Amateur Paleontologist

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The Amateur Paleontologist

In 1993, when Jurassic Park was released to the large public, Velociraptor surprised many with its “small” size yet vicious and swift ways. However, there are some scientific inaccuracies (which most can forgive) about Spielberg’s fast robber.

First (this may not be so obvious), as the main “raptors” were adults, their pedal unguals (the famous “killing claws”) should have been less pronounced and recurved than in those of juveniles (Martyniuk 2012; which probably explains why young dromaeosaurs would have been more arboreal than mature individuals).

Second, the hands: in Jurassic park, the hands of the Velociraptor were very flexible and turned downwards, capable of opening doors. However, in real life, this was not the case. In fact, like birds, Velociraptor and other dromaeosaurids would have their hands turned more inwards.

In all Jurassic Park movies, S. Spielberg gave the “raptors” a quite boxy and short head. The fossils however, show a long and narrow snout. The North American dromaeosaurids like Achillobator, Utahraptor or Deinonychus display a stout head, and people would thus believe that he got inspiration from the North American dromaeosaurids.

The size. That’s one of Spielberg’s (and Crichton’s) biggest errors concerning the Velociraptor. In J-P, the Velociraptor are as tall as a man. However, this swift hunter reached up to our hips maximum. But, we can forgive this, because when Deinonychus antirrhopus was discovered, there was some confusion and some authors, including Paul (1988 in Predatory Dinosaurs of the World) referred to it as “Velociraptor antirrhopus”.

At the beginning of JP-1, the movie featured a dinosaur dig in Montana. The protagonists were digging out a complete Velociraptor skeleton. That cannot be possible at all, because Velociraptor lived in Mongolia (Osborn 1924). Yet another confusion with Deinonychus.

However, the biggest mistake is the absolute lack of feathers. There is a huge body of evidence that all dromaeosaurids had feathers, even Velociraptor (Turner et. al 2007). However, this can be forgiven because the first feathered dinosaur (Sinosauropteryx prima) was found 3 years (in 1996) after the official release of Jurassic Park.

Unfortunately, upon viewing the movie Jurassic World (in other words Jurassic Park 4), I came to the conclusion that the Velociraptor(s) had retained all the erroneous features I noted above, without a correction in sight.

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It's a "movie" and their primary purpose was not about being scientifically correct but to enhance revenue in which they were extremely successful in doing.

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The Amateur Paleontologist

It's a "movie" and their primary purpose was not about being scientifically correct but to enhance revenue in which they were extremely successful in doing.

I wasn't saying that those errors were bad, I was simply stating the errors.

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Raggedy Man

Actually, the biggest error is they're in Jurassic park in the first place. The movie is called Jurassic Park not Cretaceous Park.

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I wasn't saying that those errors were bad, I was simply stating the errors.

If you want to be picky there were lots of technical errors in the movie. The Velo errors you pointed out continue to enhance the stereotype that it was a big nasty dinosaur.

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If you want to be picky there were lots of technical errors in the movie. The Velo errors you pointed out continue to enhance the stereotype that it was a big nasty dinosaur.

I thought everyone wanted a pet raptor after seeing Jurassic World :P

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I thought everyone wanted a pet raptor after seeing Jurassic World :P

More effective than a guard dog.

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Come on guys, the problem is quite simple. The feathers were lost when combining the DNA with the frogs of course!

The handles of the doors were lever action therefore the "Raptors" merely needed to push down upon them to open. The long killing claws were nail extensions (this IS Hollywood after all!)

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Susan from PA

I thought everyone wanted a pet raptor after seeing Jurassic World :P

The heck with the pet raptors. I want a pet T.rex! We live near lots of farms with fresh livestock,, and I have plenty of flares! ;)

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The Amateur Paleontologist

More effective than a guard dog.

A pack of Velo's would be even better

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sixgill pete

Mom, can we get a Mosasaur for the pool!!!!!!

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Jack Horner served as an adviser for the Jurassic Park movies. By the third movie he managed to get the guys producing the thing to add some protofeathers to the raptors. They still aren't the feathered creatures we now know them to be, but hey it's a movie. Something tells me a movie with a bunch of sharp toothed chickens running around wouldn't have done as well at the box offices :P

raptor7.jpg

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LordTrilobite

Most of the inaccuracies aren't actually errors. They are deliberate design choices.

Here's what I know of why the JP raptors look the way they do...

Before the book was written. A new raptor was found in the US. They named it Velociraptor antirrhopus. This is the raptor that was used as a subject for the book. After the book was finished. This raptor was renamed to Deinonychus antirrhopus. When the movie was being made. They were aware of the name change. But felt the name Velociraptor was much cooler sounding. So they kept it the same as in the book.

Though, I think that the book called them Velociraptor mongoliensis. But it was a while since I read the book so I'm not sure.

So in short, for the film they modeled the raptors on Deinonychus, but used the name Velociraptor.

At the time, while it was known that raptors were closely related to birds. It was not known that they actually had feathers. And you can blame the lack of feathers in the sequels on film continuity.

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It's a movie. There was a cartoon called the Flintstones. Pterosaurs are misrepresented in it.

Cherry picking issues with the dinos in Jurassic Park is like pointing out errors in the Flintstones. Once one accepts the larger fantasy then 'what makes sense' within the fantasy can't be taken seriously.

No published paper in a reputable scientific journal is influenced an iota by the accuracy of portrayals of dinos or pterosaurs in a cartoon or a movie.

Jurassic Park, like the Flintstones, is really, really, really 'stupid' but I liked them both.

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Most of the inaccuracies aren't actually errors. They are deliberate design choices ..... for the film they modeled the raptors on Deinonychus, but used the name Velociraptor. ........ They ... felt the name Velociraptor was much cooler sounding.

I figured this was the case.

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The Amateur Paleontologist

Most of the inaccuracies aren't actually errors. They are deliberate design choices.

Here's what I know of why the JP raptors look the way they do...

Before the book was written. A new raptor was found in the US. They named it Velociraptor antirrhopus. This is the raptor that was used as a subject for the book. After the book was finished. This raptor was renamed to Deinonychus antirrhopus. When the movie was being made. They were aware of the name change. But felt the name Velociraptor was much cooler sounding. So they kept it the same as in the book.

Though, I think that the book called them Velociraptor mongoliensis. But it was a while since I read the book so I'm not sure.

So in short, for the film they modeled the raptors on Deinonychus, but used the name Velociraptor.

At the time, while it was known that raptors were closely related to birds. It was not known that they actually had feathers. And you can blame the lack of feathers in the sequels on film continuity.

The J. P. Velociraptor was waaaay bigger than Deinonychus. I would rather compare it to a Utahraptor or to the recently discovered Dakotaraptor steini.

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LordTrilobite

Tell it to the authors. It might be bigger, but it was modeled on Deinonychus.

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First (this may not be so obvious), as the main “raptors” were adults, their pedal unguals (the famous “killing claws”) should have been less pronounced and recurved than in those of juveniles (Martyniuk 2012; which probably explains why young dromaeosaurs would have been more arboreal than mature individuals).

Good catch here, I hadn't even noticed this to be honest. (edit: this was a quote from The Amateur Paleontologist (OP), but quote box disappeared along the way :P )


In all Jurassic Park movies, S. Spielberg gave the “raptors” a quite boxy and short head. The fossils however, show a long and narrow snout. The North American dromaeosaurids like Achillobator, Utahraptor or Deinonychus display a stout head, and people would thus believe that he got inspiration from the North American dromaeosaurids.

The size. That’s one of Spielberg’s (and Crichton’s) biggest errors concerning the Velociraptor. In J-P, the Velociraptor are as tall as a man. However, this swift hunter reached up to our hips maximum. But, we can forgive this, because when Deinonychus antirrhopus was discovered, there was some confusion and some authors, including Paul (1988 in Predatory Dinosaurs of the World) referred to it as “Velociraptor antirrhopus”.

Most of the inaccuracies aren't actually errors. They are deliberate design choices.

Here's what I know of why the JP raptors look the way they do...

Before the book was written. A new raptor was found in the US. They named it Velociraptor antirrhopus. This is the raptor that was used as a subject for the book. After the book was finished. This raptor was renamed to Deinonychus antirrhopus. When the movie was being made. They were aware of the name change. But felt the name Velociraptor was much cooler sounding. So they kept it the same as in the book.

Though, I think that the book called them Velociraptor mongoliensis. But it was a while since I read the book so I'm not sure.

So in short, for the film they modeled the raptors on Deinonychus, but used the name Velociraptor.

At the time, while it was known that raptors were closely related to birds. It was not known that they actually had feathers. And you can blame the lack of feathers in the sequels on film continuity.

Just a couple notes about this, Achillobator was from Mongolia, not North America, and the only cranial material attributed to it is a maxilla, so it's impossible to definitively make statements about its head shape.

Deinonychus antirrhopus was not originally described as a species of Velociraptor; it was named as its own genus in 1969. As far as I can tell, "Velociraptor anthirrhopus" was another of Greg Paul's bizarre generic combinations, of which he has made many over the years, mostly without providing any rationale for doing so (see Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs for a plethora of other ones). Combining two genera that are quite distinct in many ways, and which lived on different continents 30 million years apart is a bit unconventional.

That being said, North America and Asia did share a number of similar Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, and these days it seems to be somewhat subjective whether you keep them in separate genera or lump them together.

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The most egregious error of the movie was in the depiction of a brother and sister who got along with each other. The rest of it was acceptable.

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Susan from PA

The most egregious error of the movie was in the depiction of a brother and sister who got along with each other. The rest of it was acceptable.

Yes!!!! So true!!! I'm an only child, and so is my husband. We have a 7 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. Does the fighting ever end?

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MeargleSchmeargl

Actually, the biggest error is they're in Jurassic park in the first place. The movie is called Jurassic Park not Cretaceous Park.

yep. across all of the movies Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, Spinosaurus, among many of the well known dinosaurs in the film were from the Cretaceous period, as opposed to the Jurassic.

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JohnBrewer

Next you'll be telling me the characters in Ice Age are fictional.....

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The Amateur Paleontologist

Tell it to the authors. It might be bigger, but it was modeled on Deinonychus.

The skull of D. antirhoppus doesn't look like the head of Velociraptor mongoliensis.

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The Amateur Paleontologist

yep. across all of the movies Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, Spinosaurus, among many of the well known dinosaurs in the film were from the Cretaceous period, as opposed to the Jurassic.

You're right. I forgot to mention it :( There are very few Jurassic dinosaurs, barely Stegosaurus and maybe a few others.

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  • 2 years later...
On 6/21/2016 at 8:29 AM, Bguild said:

Something tells me a movie with a bunch of sharp toothed chickens running around wouldn't have done as well at the box offices :P

That's the next installment.

JURASSIC POULTRY PARK- THE ROOSTERS ARE LOOSE!

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