How Jurassic Park's Future Can Fix Its Biggest Dinosaur Mistake

Thursday, May 13, 2021

There's a thematically appropriate explanation that the Jurassic Park series should use for why the velociraptors and T-Rex don't have feathers

Jurassic Park has long established the T-Rex and velociraptors as some of the franchise’s most terrifying threats, but the future of the series can cleverly work around the biggest mistake that the original movies made. Beginning with Jaws helmer Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of sci-fi author Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park back in 1993, the Jurassic Park franchise has since expanded to included two direct sequels, a rebooted “Jurassic World” follow-up trilogy, and even a television series spin-off in the animated Camp Cretaceous.

Both the original Jurassic Park movies and the Jurassic World trilogy have been financially successful, but some fans have questioned how realistic the depiction of the many dinosaurs seen in the movies is. Getting the prehistoric characters of Jurassic Park right has always been a major concern for the series as, while viewers are willing to suspend disbelief in a story of a theme park filled with dinosaurs run amok, unconvincing effects or silly exposition can often sink this kind of potentially fun adventure story.

Some digressions from realism are inevitable when a living T-Rex is the villain of Jurassic Park, but there is some science that both the original trilogy and the Jurassic World movies ignore which is harder to overlook. For example, both velociraptors and the T-Rex are thought to have had feathers according to a large swathe of scientific consensus, a change that makes them look significantly sillier to audiences who are expecting a terrifying dinosaur and not an oversized, man-eating chicken. Luckily, though, there is an easy out that the Jurassic Park franchise can use to paper over this potential problem.

Mentioning that these feather-coated, silly-looking dinosaurs “went wrong” in the cloning process, causing them to appear as the more intimidating, featherless version that audiences are used to, would make them seem even more monstrous and could also be used to explain their heightened aggression, their territoriality, and everything else that makes the monsters so scary. This would not be a difficult retcon for the series to work in, with Jurassic Park III already changing the velociraptors from the appearance they had in the first two films. Whether it is in Camp Cretaceous, Jurassic World: Dominion, or another upcoming Jurassic Park property, explaining away the lack of feathers found on the carnivores of the series could lend credence to the idea that Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs are uniquely dangerous and even more of a threat than a “normal” velociraptor or T-Rex.

This explanation also fits a recurring thematic preoccupation of the series, namely the idea that humans playing god and interfering with genetics can result in disastrous consequences. Already, the Indominus Rex of Jurassic World was referred to in the movie as the result of excessive experimentation and gene-altering, meaning there is an in-series precedent for the dinosaur’s lack of feathers to be explained away via reference to the imperfect cloning process that created them. Explaining the lack of feathers on the T-Rex and velociraptors of the Jurassic Park franchise would not only reinforce the theme of humans risking life and limb through their hubris but also further illustrate that the beasts seen in the series are more dangerous and unpredictable than their prehistoric predecessors.