Paleontologist Jack Horner talks Jurassic World

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Jurassic World comes out today and I gotta tell ya, it’s super fun as I was fortunate enough to see it last Tuesday night. I suggest seeing it if you like very cool things and bits of nostalgia followed by fearing for the lives of everyone in the movie. I was also fortunate enough to check out a panel at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles featuring renowned Paleontologist and Jurassic World advisor, Jack Horner. He chatted with Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer, about some of the more scientific aspects of Jurassic World and how they relate to the real world.

Paleontologist  Jack Horner and moderator Michael Shermer participate in a "Jurassic World" Q&A at the Natural History Museum on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Paleontologist Jack Horner and moderator Michael Shermer participate in a “Jurassic World” Q&A at the Natural History Museum on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA
(Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

One of the more interesting topics of discussion came from an audience member. Mr. Horner was asked why the dinosaurs in the film didn’t have feathers given the research that shows dinosaurs evolved from birds. His response was that in the first movie the topic was debated, but that “Spielberg thought Technicolor feathered dinos are not as scary.” In the new film, the filmmaker winks to this change with a cleverly inserted line of dialog. However, they did make one change in Jurassic World based on recent research regarding the progression of a young Triceratop’s horns. Since the premiere of Jurassic Park, more is know about the species and how it’s horns change from birth to adulthood.

When asked further about bird similarities, Horner stated that dinosaurs could have been any color that birds are, “and that includes pink.” I thought this was super interesting given that most dinosaurs portrayed in film tend to be green and brown like alligators, lizards, and other reptiles we see today. It really made me think about the different colors of birds and how awesome it would be to see a giant Tyrannosaur roaming around with red, blue, or as Jack said, pink feathers.

Jack also went on to explain that the T. Rex had the largest teeth of any known dinosaur while also having quite a few similarities to one of nature’s smaller birds, the robin as both species have hollow bones and wish bones. Given his earlier comments that dinosaurs were feathered, both could have possibly been the same color. That would be an amazing site, until the feathered dinosaur chased you down and ate you.

Overall, the panel was super fascinating. Not to mention that being set inside one of the great museums of the West Coast made it that much more interesting. As a fan of dinosaurs and learning new things, I always like to listen to smarter people than I educate me about things I don’t yet understand. As the late Phil Hartman once said in a SNL sketch, “I’m just a caveman… your world frightens and confuses me.”

 

Check out Jurassic World this weekend.


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