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

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the classic film, Jurassic Park. Michael Dhar, a science writer and contributor to the website Live Science, tells Melissa Block and Audie Cornish about how the science featured in the movie holds up to what we know about dinosaurs today.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

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.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.