Saturday, June 13, 2015

Paleontologists Pan Jurassic World

Paleontologists give "Jurassic World" science thumbs down
Though most paleontologists haven't yet seen the movie that is set to open June 12, they have picked apart the trailer and movie-inspired toys for evidence about the way dinosaur anatomy and behavior are portrayed. And they have found plenty to complain about.
Scientists are like that; nothing is ever good enough when it comes to  portraying their own work.

No, the Pterosaurs couldn't have lifted people up into the air - their feet were not able to pick up items. They got the Gallimimus all wrong, giving it teeth in its jawless beak and getting the proportions out of whack. And for some reason they forgot to put feathers on Velociraptor and Gallimimus, giving them scaling or smooth skin instead and ignoring one of the biggest advancements in paleontology over the past two decades.
I suppose they should have given T. Rex feathers and made it act like a big chicken?

Paleontologists praised the Mosasaur that jumps from a Sea World-like pool for having interior "palatal" teeth, which is something scientists only recently discovered. But others complained it was much bigger in the movie than it would have been in real life.
That's just a camera trick. Besides, the Mosasaur was created for the park; of course they'd super size it.
"For all its errors - and there definitely were some - the original 'Jurassic Park' movie was very effective about bringing the then-new 1980s discoveries to people of the 1990s," Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, told CBS News. "Sadly, the dinosaurs in 'Jurassic World' have not been updated with any new information from the 1990s or 2000s or 2010s, and indeed in a few cases are less accurate than in the original movie!"

I'm going to bet that most of the paleontologists interviewed were just kids or teenagers when Jurassic Park came out, and their tolerance for its errors is just the rosy glow of their childhood speaking.
Andrew Farke, who specializes in the evolution and functional morphology of the Ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs) at the Raymond Alf Museum of Paleontology, agreed "the dinosaurs are a step backwards" and that they are not much too look at.

"The plot might be OK. I think it's quite fun to have a peek inside a functioning dinosaur theme park," he said. "But the dinosaurs themselves ...ugly! Across the board, a major step backward for the visuals and accuracy."

Perhaps paleontologists should pay Hollywood to portray their pets more perfectly.
Kirkland said he is not so annoyed that script writers have introduced a genetically modified dinosaur known as Indominus rex - calling it a plot device and a handy bad guy. He seemed more upset about the lack of dinosaur diversity and the absence of some of his new favorites - Deinocheirus, Therizinosaurus, Kosmoceratops, Styracosaurus, and Gastonia.
He is upset that the Hollywood writers didn't introduce a bunch of his favorites (out of a few hundred species) that none of the movie goers would recognize. Yeah, that's a ticket to success.

Definitely a must see movie, if only because it's going to become a cultural icon.

Wombat-socho has the weekly compendium up at The Other McCain: "Rule 5 Sunday: Pipe Dreams."

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