20 Years Later, Science In 'Jurassic Park' Shows Its Age

Jun 12, 2013
Originally published on June 12, 2013 5:56 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Twenty years ago this week, this megamovie roared into theaters.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JURASSIC PARK")

BLOCK: "Jurassic Park," the 1993 film, brought dinosaurs to life in a way that had never been done before.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JURASSIC PARK")

CORNISH: Yup. That's one scary tyrannosaurus.

MICHAEL DHAR: I think I was 13 when that movie came out, so it has played a big part in my childhood and my life.

CORNISH: That's Michael Dhar. He writes for LiveScience.com. As a fan, he wrote an article comparing what we know of dinosaurs today with the science featured in that movie two decades ago.

BLOCK: Let's take the movie version of T-rex.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JURASSIC PARK")

RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH: (as John Hammond) Well, we clocked the T-rex at 32 miles an hour.

LAURA DERN: (as Dr. Ellie Sattler) You said you've got a T-rex?

ATTENBOROUGH: (as John Hammond) Uh-huh.

SAM NEILL: (as Dr. Alan Grant) Say again?

ATTENBOROUGH: (as John Hammond) We have a T-rex.

BLOCK: In the movie, the T-rex chased after cars and ate people, but Dhar says not so.

DHAR: The T-rex in the film was portrayed as this hunter who goes after big prey, but the evidence shows that the T-rex operated more like a scavenger. So he would have looked for prey that was already dead. He wouldn't have run very fast.

BLOCK: More recent science suggests dinosaurs would also have looked quite different. They were more colorful and...

DHAR: It's probable that if you were actually to go back in time and look at the T-rex, it would be, no, maybe kind of cute. It would have a lot of plumage and feathers.

CORNISH: Cute? Bright plumage and feathers? What?

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JURASSIC PARK")

BLOCK: So maybe they would have been less of that and more of this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SESAME STREET")

CARROLL SPINNEY: (as Big Bird) And now, a poem by Big Bird. That's me.

CORNISH: T-rex was more like a Big Bird according to Michael Dhar at LiveScience, but could that work in a dinosaur movie?

DHAR: I guess you can make anything scary. Big Bird with teeth might be a little frightening as well.

BLOCK: I don't know, Audie. Big Bird's definitely not as scary. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.