Dinosaurs: Things Hollywood Has Gotten Wrong
When people think of dinosaurs, their immediate response is to picture a massive, scaly monster running after its prey while emitting a terrifying roar. Perhaps the prompt brings to mind the scene in Jurassic Park where the raptors are in the kitchen hunting the terrified kids. But did you know that these images aren't that scientifically accurate? Jurassic Park has influenced and continues to skew our perception of dinosaurs, but the facts are quite different.
Some Had Feathers or Hair
Contrary to the popular image of ferocious dinosaurs with scales and sharp fangs, dinosaurs were actually more akin to birds than to reptiles. This means that many dinosaurs would’ve naturally grown feathers or quills.
Raptors Were a Lot Smaller
The thought of velociraptors always conjures up the scene of those wily devils hunting down humans for sport in Jurassic Park. In the film, they're about as tall as a person, but in reality, they only stood around 18 inches tall.
The Raptors in Jurassic Park Weren't Velociraptors
Yeah, that came as a shock. Raptors...that aren't raptors? Turns out, due to the size of the raptors in Jurassic Park and the claws on their feet, the raptors portrayed in the series of films are actually the velociraptor's relative deinonychus.
Brachiosaurus Didn't Make a Whale Call
If you've seen Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, then you'll definitely recall the scene in which the brachiosaurus stands on its hind legs and lets out a forlorn whale call as the protagonists watch in dismay from the ship.
Dinosaurs Would Get Sick From Eating People
Sorry, T. rex. It turns out humans might actually be unhealthy for you. According to Ben Wagonner, PhD in Interrogative Biology, dinosaurs likely wouldn't have the capability to eat the food that would be available to them in our modern world. Because evolution has consistently changed the chemical makeup of plants and animals over time, dinosaurs wouldn't have the biological ability to properly digest today’s offerings.
Brachiosaurus Couldn't Stand on Its Hind Legs
In the very first Jurassic Park, the first full dinosaur we see is a brachiosaurus standing on its hind legs eating from a tree. This beast is massive and weighed something like 90 tons. How does one stand on its hind legs at all, let alone eat while doing it?
Raptors Couldn't Open Doors
While it was absolutely thrilling to watch in fascinated horror as the velociraptors learned how to manipulate a door handle and push it open, that simply couldn't happen. For starters, have you ever seen an animal with stubby arms try to manipulate a handle?
Dilophosauruses Couldn't Spit Acid
In Jurassic Park, one of the protagonists is killed in a rather grotesque way. A dilophosaurus spits acid onto his face. This wasn't possible. There’s zero evidence that the creatures could do this at all, let alone with enough liquid to burn through a person.
Dilophosauruses Were Also Way Bigger
A lot bigger. They would’ve been a little less than 10 feet tall when they were fully grown. The movie’s poison-spitting menace is rather small for a fully grown dilophosaurus. So not only were they given an imaginary ability, but they also were shrunk down considerably. Why?
Velociraptors Didn't Hunt in Packs
That's right. According to author Bob Strauss, velociraptor fossils have only ever been found alone. That means that the raptors in Jurassic Park aren't accurate on yet another level. It's believed that the velociraptor was a solitary hunter, and there’s no evidence to suggest that it hunted large beasts in huge packs.
Dinosaurs Weren't Very Smart
Going back to that point about raptors turning door handles, there's another reason why that's impossible. According to Bob Strauss, dinosaurs weren’t intelligent at all. The most intelligent dinosaur of all was the troodon, not the raptor (sorry, Jurassic World).
Dinosaurs and People Didn't Live Together
This one is kind of obvious, but Hollywood loves to spice things up a bit. A rather old film called One Million Years B.C. includes fully evolved cavemen with spears fending off dinosaurs. But this is inaccurate for many reasons, especially because a fully evolved Homo sapiens definitely wasn’t around yet.
Brachiosaurus Probably Made a Hissing Noise
We know by now that these long-necked herbivores didn't sound like whales after all. That whale call depicted in Jurassic Park and its sequels was actually physically impossible. According to USC professor Mike Habib, brachiosaurus would’ve been unable to make anything more than a hissing noise because of the size of its neck.
Pterosaurs Didn't Have Talons
In the original King Kong, there’s a scene in which a pterosaur carries off the heroine. This makes sense, sort of. It's kind of like a big bird, and the birds we call raptors today are known to carry off their prey using their talons, right?
Dinosaur Brains Were Too Simple to Be Trained
In the Jurassic World series, one of the central plot points of the films is how the velociraptors, especially Blue, were capable of being trained by Chris Pratt's character. Well, according to paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, their brains were too small and simple to comprehend commands of any sort.
Mosasaurs Were Way Bigger On-screen Than Off
Something Hollywood loves to do with dinosaurs is make them bigger. Bigger is better, right? Well, at least bigger is definitely scarier in some way. Regardless, the mosasaur is made to appear bigger in Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Mosasaurs Also Didn't Have Frills
The aquatic beast in Jurassic World is impressive to look at, but other than its inflated size, it's also given a fake frill. The logic in giving it a frill is pretty straightforward: Fish have frills. It’s kind of like a giant fish. It’ll look better with a cool frill, too.
Brachiosaurus Couldn't Sneeze
The scene in Jurassic Park when the dino sneezes on the kid and sprays goo everywhere is pretty funny. That was a lot of slime. But regardless of the humor involved, the brachiosaurus couldn't sneeze due to its long neck.
Stegosaurus and T. rex Never Would've Crossed Paths
Dinosaurs existed starting about 240 million years ago, and they disappeared completely only 65 million years ago. A lot has changed here on Earth in 65 million years, what with the rise of people and all. But while 65 million years is really long, that means there were still millions of years when dinosaurs were around.
Pachycephalosaurus Couldn't Headbutt Through Brick Walls
In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, our heroes get trapped in a jail cell underneath the mansion of their once-patron, now-evil dinosaur trader. They use a small but thick-skulled dinosaur to escape by tricking it into smashing through the wall and then through the cell door.
Dinosaurs Weren't Bulletproof
Movies love to make their monsters bulletproof to some degree. It makes killing the bad guy that much more interesting. But when movies place dinosaurs, which are really just animals, as the bad guys, it gets a little bit weird.
T. rex Couldn't Run
Turns out the internet was getting so upset over a woman outrunning a T. rex in heels for nothing (or were they?). In reality, these dinos probably couldn’t run fast at all. They were just too big.
Baby T. rex Looked Like a Duckling
Because they’re related to birds, it makes sense that a T. rex hatchling would look slightly similar to a duck. After hatching, the babies came out small — roughly the size of a turkey and covered in fuzz. They lost much of their fuzz over time, keeping only small patches on their heads and tails into adulthood.
T. rex Probably Didn't Roar
The king of dinosaurs couldn't even roar? Now it just seems a lot less scary. But wait. If it couldn't roar, what sound could it make? The T. rex probably could coo or hoot loudly.
Dinosaurs Were Pretty Fast
Many films seem to show dinosaurs as slow, lumbering, lethargic giants. While they were indeed huge creatures, they weren’t by any means slow. And sure, T. rex and others couldn't run, but they still could’ve walked really fast.
T. rex Can Still See People If They Don't Move
It's a common trope in the Jurassic Park series that the T. rex can't see people if they stay completely still. But of course they can see things that size — how could they not? The T. rex had eyes the size of oranges. How can a creature with eyes that big, known for its predatory nature, not see prey standing still?
Dinosaurs Weren't Aggressive
A predator prowling for food because it's hungry is aggressive, yes? So, naturally, a predatory dinosaur would've been the same way. But the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are really aggressive all the time. Raptors continue stalking people after already eating several of them. Pterodactyls snatch humans after escaping their enclosure.
Dilophosaurus Didn't Have Frills, Either
The acid-spitting, shrunken menace was distorted by artistic license, once again. Turns out that the dilophosaurus didn't have a frill around its neck either. According to the Natural History Museum in London, there’s simply no evidence that the dilophosaurus had frills at all.
A T. rex Bite Would've Killed King Kong
In Peter Jackson's King Kong remake, there’s a scene in which the giant ape is caught in the jaws of a T. rex. The end result was the escape of Kong and the murder of the dinosaur. This would've ended another way if it were real, though (giant gorillas aside for a moment).
Ankylosaurus Wouldn't Have Used Its Tail as a Weapon
In Jurassic World, we see a pair of ankylosaurs use their huge, mace-like tails to smash the park gyrosphere. While they theoretically could've done that, and theories say that the force of a tail swing could probably shatter bone, they simply wouldn't have.