Jurassic World and the science behind it all
It has been 22 years since we first saw dinosaurs running on the big screen of Steven Spielberg’s 1992 sci-fi classic, Jurassic Park. The Michael Crichton novel-turned-movie was a huge box-office hit, resulting in two more sequels afterward. Now, with the fourth film, Jurassic World, being released this weekend, we learn more about our scaly creatures that we have grown to love and fear from the man behind the dinosaur, paleontologist Jack Horner. Horner, who worked as a consultant for all four films, gave his input on the fictitious creatures that appeared in the film. He is their dinosaur-go-to guy!
In the film, we are introduced to a new breed of dinosaur – a hybrid of other dinosaurs – called the Indominus Rex, which hunts for sport and is far more intelligent than expected. With this new genetically created creature, Jurassic World has become more realistic in terms of science than all the other previous films.
Horner explains, “The original idea of bringing dinosaurs back by getting DNA out of amber, we never found DNA from a dinosaur. We can’t bring dinosaurs back that way. So that’s fiction. But, if we had dinosaurs back, we could make hybrids. We could make something like an Indominous Rex. That is plausible. We actually make different kinds of animals now based on genetic engineering. We do trans-genetic engineering. That’s how we make blowfish.”
So, genetically engineering to create a dinosaur is possible? Yup. It’s true. Horner and his team have been working on using genetic markers to identify what genes turn on to make certain parts, using the closest living relative to dinosaurs – birds. Using chickens, he is working to genetically engineer it to look like a velociraptor. When should we expect to see a real dinosaur?
“Five to ten years, we will have a dinosaur.” Horner stated, “I guarantee it. We will have a dinosaur.”
With so many discoveries that have happened between the first and latest film, like finding out some dinosaurs are actually feathered, we wondered if that would be incorporated into the film. Horner responded, “We have an incredible amount of information, but we can’t put it all in the movie and we can’t really change the movie because it’s one story. We can’t make the story different. We can’t make the character different. What is inputted into is is the new dinosaur, Indominus Rex, and how we formed it genetically. There are some small things, the way the little baby triceratops look is based on brand new science. It’s mostly a scary movie.” He responded to the critics who question the validity of the science in the film, “It’s not a documentary. It’s a fictional film.”
Horner has loved working on these films and is excited about them. When asked what he looked forward to the most, he commented, “All of the Jurassic park movies gets kids interested in science and that’s all I’m interested in.”
With the high possibility of another Jurassic film after Jurassic World, we wanted to know if Horner would be ready for the sequel. He responded, “I’m always ready for the sequel.”