[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Dinosaur DNA



Cf. Michael Benton, 1985. To clone a dinosaur, New Scientist # 1439 [17 January]:41-43
     Charles Pellegrino, 1985. Dinosaur capsule, Omni 7(4) [January]:38-40, 114-115
      Appearing close to each other, both papers speculated on the subject -- and both caught the attention of Michael Crichton who had been grappling with a plot revolving around abused children and dwarf cloned dinosaurs to eradicate the parents. After considerable work and re-writes, the manuscript metamorphosed in what would become the 1990 novel and unfilmed January 1991 screenplay. The latter should have been filmed...but Amblin Entertainment (whose films never originate serious ideas because they never occur to the accountants) opted instead for a typewriter who knew nothing about dinosaurs nor about Mr. Crichton's visions.                                                      ! ! ;               Steven Spielberg wanted to use life-size balloons, then approached Phil Tippett...and the Tippett Studio created a series of animation sequences which are staggering in realism. At the same time, to be sure, Mark Dippe and Steve Williams at Industrial Light & Magic (unknown to others), created a computer generated tyrannosaur (it appears in the laserdisc/VHS of The Making of Jurassic Park briefly), walking toward the camera, her head turning about and scanning for prey (the background was a colour photograph of the green hills near ILM's buildings).  Tippett's work was abandoned (to this day, Steven Spielberg has never apologized for his abrupt decision to not use their work), although ILM, knowing they had no time to perfect their CGI dinosaurs, had Tippett Studios design and animate  CGI dinosaurs using a DID, dinosaur input device: a steel-frame puppet (Marcel Del! ! gado in the 1920s began the tradition) wired to a computer, so that animation is in "real time" on the screen. That tyrannosaur -- and the version stepping through the deactivated fence on Isla Nublar -- were "real", challenging ideas about "alternative" realities vis-a-vis spectator/screen, and her later fast-walk chase toward the vehicle was, to be sure, an inspiration for John Hutchinson's collaborate study.
      Much later, Mr Crichton may have had misgivings about a mosquito in amber (the actual specimen shown in the film was not a mosquito, but a horse fly-like taxon)...to sequence DNA, one would not inject anything into the amber...but that's another story, well-covered by Rob DeSalle, and recapitulated in my book-in-progress, Alfred Russel Wallace's KING KONG. Regardless of Mr Crichton's initial 1990 errors re: vision-and-movement, and the almost imperial, haughty attitude some have taken toward Mr Crichton, I believe the impact of his novel, and the cinematic dinosaur images (the FrameStore animators of Walking with Dinosaurs used the ILM paradigm of scanning models for CGI animation), should be appreciated for having reached  children who will, someday, be the next generation of paleontologists/ornithologists. Indeed, I would venture to say that behind much of the posturing I read on the DML's posted messages, many will! ! privately admit they enjoyed the novel (it's far superior to the tripe of Dinosaur Summer and Carnosaur) and some of the dinosaurs of the first and second films. It is, to be sure, a pity, Horrorwood film studios had to put hominids in the series, iterating words no paleontologist or paleobotanist has ever said (at least, in my presence), and to see fit to release a third to maximize profits for an already ethically bankrupt enterprise.