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JP's raptors (was: What do you hate...)



The first "Jurassic Park" movie (I haven't seen the sequels) came out just
before the befeatheredness of dromaeosaurs became orthodox.  (I recall
seeing one painting-- in one of the "Dinosaurs Past and Present" volumes--
of a couple of feathered Velociraptors sitting in a nest looking hawkish
from about that time, but this was a speculative reconstruction: the
feathered  dinosaur specimens from China came out a bit later.)

Given that, the movie's portrayals were startlingly GOOD.  One scene in
particular-- the one where we were all cheering them on because they looked
as if they were about toi catch up with the two obnoxious children inside
the building-- has a "Velociraptor" cocking its head in a very birdlike
gesture.  There's a bit of "artistic licence (o.k., o.k., the venomous
Dilophosaurus was utterly groundless), and obviously they had to choose
between interpretations in the areas where there was no scientific consensus
(Tyrannosaurus running down a jeep is extreme, but just how tightly
constrained are estimates of T.r.'s top speed even now?), but I think the
"Jurassic Park" dinosaurs were about as good as the scientific knowledge at
the time permitted.  And, in their movements if not their integument, the
movie's (oversize-- but then Utahraptor was discovered about the time the
film came out!) "Velociraptors" DID reflect the (newer then than now) view
that such dinosaurs were closely related to the ancestry of birds.

And that without even claiming to be a "documentary"!

--

Allen Hazen
Philosophy Department
University of Melbourne