40 Times Paleontology Exposed What The Jurassic Park Movies Got Wrong About The Dinosaurs

After Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park first hit cinemas in 1993, the public’s perception of dinosaurs changed forever. Audiences, it seems, were utterly gripped by the movie’s novel use of special effects in bringing the ancient beasts to life. But while real research powered the film’s depictions, inaccuracies still obviously existed. With that in mind, here’s a look at what the franchise has gotten wrong over the years.

40. The Velociraptor would have looked like a turkey

The Velociraptors depicted in Jurassic Park are undoubtedly terrifying creatures to behold. After all, they’re shown as relatively large beasts, with fearsome teeth and frightfully reptilian snarls. Yet in reality they would have measured up at a size comparable to modern turkeys, and their faces would have been birdlike too.

39. The Brachiosaurus couldn’t stand on its back legs

The Brachiosaurus is thought to have been quite unique during its own time. But Jurassic Park shows the creature performing a tremendous – yet impossible – feat. In a graceful scene, a Brachiosaurus can be seen rising up on its two back legs. Given its size, however, the creature realistically wouldn’t have been able to do this.

38. Most of the films’ dinosaurs lived in the Cretaceous period

While some of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park really did live during the Jurassic period, not all of them did. Velociraptor, T. rex, Triceratops – all these dinosaurs were alive during the Cretaceous period, which took place after the Jurassic era. Speaking to the BBC in 2018, paleontologist Steve Brusatte offered his thoughts on why the franchise was named as it was. He said, “I guess Cretaceous Park never had that same ring to it.”

37. The T. rex had great eyesight

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A scene we all remember from Jurassic Park is the one where the T. rex tries to find Dr. Grant and the kids. Everyone tries to stay still, because the dinosaur should fail to spot them because of its ineffective eyes. In reality, the T. rex would have had a tremendous sense of sight.

36. The Triceratops’ head made up a third of its body length

The Triceratops that shows up in Jurassic Park wasn’t 100 percent accurate. If it had been, then its head would have been much larger. The Triceratops, you see, had a head that accounted for around a third of its overall body size. The biggest skull ever uncovered in reality was more than eight feet in length.

35. The mosasaur was much smaller

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When Jurassic World came out in 2015, it introduced a new species into the franchise. The mosasaur appears in the film as a marine creature that performs tricks like a Sea World whale. It’s depicted as an absolute giant, but it would actually have been roughly half that size in real life.

34. The Dilophosaurus didn’t have a neck fan

One of the standout moments from Jurassic Park is, of course, when the fearsome Dilophosaurus spreads its colorful fan on its neck. It’s a terrifying moment that serves to truly demonstrate the creature’s inherent menace. The thing is, though, it seems unlikely that the creature would actually have had such a feature.

33. The Brachiosaurus had claws

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Jurassic Park presents the enormous Brachiosaurus as having four feet that look quite like those of elephants today. However, that isn’t actually how they would have appeared in reality. As a matter of fact, the Brachiosaurus had claws, rather than the stumps that it was depicted in the movie as possessing.

32. The Spinosaurus wasn’t that fierce at hunting

In Jurassic Park III, the Spinosaurus pops up and is depicted as a fearsome hunter capable of overcoming a T. rex. This, however, is unlikely. The Spinosaurus predominantly fed on fish in reality. And on top of everything else, the two species were alive at completely different points in history. Ultimately, then, we can’t know how they would have reacted to each other’s presence.

31. The T. rex would have consumed food like a Komodo dragon does

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In the world of Jurassic Park, the T. rex is a creature that eats its food aggressively, tearing it from one side to another. But a paleontologist named Gregory Erickson explained to Business Insider magazine in 2020 why this is inaccurate. He said, “T. rex did puncture-and-pull feeding, in which it bit deeply into muscles and pulled straight back, like a Komodo dragon does.”

30. Dinosaurs didn’t hold their arms like kangaroos

Jurassic Park suggests that dinosaurs used to keep their arms held in a position much like kangaroos do today. However, experts seem to believe that dinosaur arms would have been arranged a little differently. To help get a sense of how it would have looked in reality, we might imagine dinosaurs grasping a ball.

29. The T. rex’s bite was even more powerful than the films suggest

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The T. rex in Jurassic Park is shown to be utterly fearsome. But the strength of the creature’s bite might actually have been much more significant than even the movie implies. Research has suggested that the dinosaur had a biting strength of more than 12,500 pounds. That could surely have inflicted a terrible amount of damage.

28. Pterosaurs wouldn’t be able to lift people

The notion of reptiles soaring in the sky is itself a little unsettling. Perhaps that’s why the pterosaurs of the Jurassic Park franchise are so scary. But if they actually were around in our time, they would have lacked the strength to lift people from the ground, as they’re depicted as doing in the films.

27. The Dilophosaurus was around 20 feet and weighed almost a ton

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As Steven Spielberg was getting to work on the first Jurassic Park film, not much was known about the Dilophosaurus. Since then, however, more findings have emerged to paint a clearer image of what they’d actually been like. As it turns out, they were much bigger in real life than in the film.

26. The T. rex wouldn’t beat a car in a race

For quite a while, experts were under the impression that the T. rex had actually been a speedy creature. Nowadays, though, it’s believed that it could only have reached about 20 miles per hour – or maybe less. This means that despite what’s shown in Jurassic Park, a car would handily outpace the dinosaur.

25. Dinosaurs didn’t produce quite so much waste

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Near the start of Jurassic Park, some characters stumble upon some dinosaur waste. And there’s an awful lot of it. The thing is, though, a single dinosaur wouldn’t have been able to produce all this on their own. The filmmakers were likely making use of their artistic license, albeit in a crude way.

24. The Stygimoloch might not even have existed

A creature known as the Stygimoloch pops up in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Experts, however, are dubious as to whether or not such a creature really existed. According to Jack Horner, a paleontologist who advised the filmmakers for all the Jurassic Park movies, the Stygimoloch might merely have been a young Pachycephalosaurus, rather than a species in its own right.

23. It’s impossible to extract dinosaur DNA

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Despite certain realistic elements to Jurassic Park, there’s unfortunately a problem with its very premise. The movie is based on the idea of taking dinosaur DNA from a piece of amber and using it to bring the creatures back to life. However, DNA is far from resilient enough to survive all those millions of years to our present day.

22. The T. rex may have cooed or hooted

The T. rex is a fearsome beast in Jurassic Park, but would it have been as scary if it cooed? Well, scientists seem to think that the dinosaur wouldn’t have roared. Based on research on closely related animals alive today – such as birds and crocodiles – it seems that the T. rex would have made cooing or hooting noises like a bird.

21. Many dinosaurs were feathered

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As more and more paleontological discoveries are made, it has become increasingly likely that large numbers of dinosaurs bore feathers. In fact, there are those that believe all dinosaurs had them. However, some would have had much more than others. Why it is problematic to know this for sure is that feathers might not have been preserved to the present day.

20. Most of the dinosaurs were depicted with the wrong color

Given that many dinosaurs likely bore feathers, we might say that the gray, reptilian beasts of Jurassic Park were way off the mark in terms of color. As scientific advisor for the movies Jack Horner explained to Business Insider, Spielberg wanted scary creatures for his movie. Perhaps colorful, feathery animals wouldn’t quite have cut the mustard.

19. The T. rex could use its sense of smell for hunting

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Several problems exist with the scene where the T. rex struggles to perceive Dr. Grant and the kids. Not only would the creature’s eyes have spotted them, but its sense of smell would also have picked them up. You see, a 2019 study has suggested that the species had actually had one of the most perceptive noses of all the known dinosaurs.

18. The mosquito in the movie couldn’t have contained dinosaur blood

Even if DNA could survive from the days of the dinosaurs to now – which, of course, it can’t – then there’d still be a problem with Jurassic Park. You see, the mosquito at the heart of the story is actually a member of a species that never eats blood. How, then, could it have contained the blood needed to recreate the creatures?

17. The T. rex may actually have been quite sweet in its youth

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The T. rex is portrayed as a merciless killing machine in Jurassic Park and its sequels. Indeed, there’s no sense at all from the franchise that the dinosaur might once have been much more lovely. But research has suggested that the young of the species were actually small balls of fluff.

16. The Triceratops had a smaller front horn

There was a big problem with the Triceratops from the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. You see, the horn that sat at the front of its face was much too large. In reality, it would have been quite a bit more modest. Mind you, that perhaps wouldn’t have looked quite as interesting on the screen.

15. The Dilophosaurus didn’t eject venom

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Around the time that Jurassic Park was in production, a fossil of a tooth was discovered that suggested its meat-eating owner may have been able to give off venom. However, this specimen was never confirmed to have belonged to a Dilophosaurus. Chances are, in fact, that the species couldn’t spew venom at its enemies.

14. Some dinosaurs may have had wings

It seems that there are an incredible amount of similarities between dinosaurs and the birds we see today. But in addition to the feathers, some of the ancient animals might also have had wings. These might not necessarily have been as developed as those on a bird, but it would have meant that they looked different than what we see in Jurassic Park.

13. The T. rex may have sported a feathery mullet

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We know that some dinosaurs bore feathers. But as for the T. rex specifically, it may have had its own feathers arranged in something of a mullet. Some evidence suggest that feathers would have lined its tail, its head, and its neck. It’s difficult to imagine if such a look would’ve made the dinosaur more or less scary in Jurassic Park.

12. The Brachiosaurus probably couldn’t sneeze

In a memorable scene, a Brachiosaurus sneezes powerfully and covers Lex in dinosaur snot. However, this probably wouldn’t have been possible in real life. You see, the pressure that would be required for an animal of that size to sneeze would have been so great that its head would probably pop.

11. It would be impossible to clone the plants

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The Jurassic Park franchise doesn’t concern itself all that much with plant life. But if the greenery of the island was supposed to be engineered by scientists, then that represents a problem. You see, evidence of ancient plants from the time of the dinosaurs doesn’t contain the cells that would be necessary for cloning.

10. The Dilophosaurus looked more like a bird than a lizard

In the Jurassic Park movies, the Dilophosaurus crops up as creature that looks rather like a horrific sort of lizard. Yet from what paleontologists know about the real species, we can say that this is inaccurate. If anything, in fact, it seems like they would have more closely resembled birds.

9. The T. rex was fatter in reality

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It seems that Jurassic Park’s depiction of the T. rex was accurate in some ways related to its size. Indeed, it probably was as tall and as long as it appears to be in the movies. Having said that, the animal would have possessed much more bulk. In other words, it was fatter.

8. The Velociraptor wasn’t that smart

In Jurassic Park III, Dr. Grant claims that the Velociraptor possesses a level of intelligence that surpasses dolphins and even certain apes. This, however, simply isn’t the case. The species might well have been smarter than other dinosaurs, but it seems doubtful that they would be able to outsmart even the birds of today.

7. The Ankylosaurus wouldn’t have used its tail to harm prey

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In Jurassic World, the Ankylosaurus can be seen to use its tail as a means of attack. In reality, though, this probably never would have happened. The dinosaur was a herbivore, after all. So, as a vegetarian, it wouldn’t have had to use its mighty tail in such an aggressive manner.

6. Dinosaurs wouldn’t have been smart enough to be trained

In the latest batch of movies in the franchise, Chris Pratt plays a character that makes his living training dinosaurs. A real-life paleontologist named Kenneth Lacovara, however, has suggested that this would have been a bad career choice. Speaking to GQ magazine in 2015, Lacovara said, “I would not try the Chris Pratt move there. The whole dinosaur whisperer thing is probably a good way to get yourself eaten.”

5. Dinosaurs are more closely related to modern birds than frogs

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Frog DNA is central to the Jurassic Park franchise, as it’s what allowed for the cloning process to take place. This, the series alleges, is because dinosaur DNA is similar to that of a frog. In actual fact, dinosaurs are much more similar to birds in terms of their DNA, whereas a frog would be more like a human.

4. Creating hybrids is more complicated than the franchise suggests

The Indominus rex is a manmade hybrid creature that contains the genetic material of several different species. To be sure, genetic splicing is something that can be achieved in the real world. However, the sophistication needed to create a creature such as the Indominus rex would be far beyond what’s actually possible.

3. Familial ties in dinosaur groups were more important than alpha males

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The notion of an “alpha” within a group of animals is being continuously questioned as more research is undertaken. In fact, some experts now argue that family bonds tend to override the power of a supposed alpha. With that in mind, the Indominus rex wouldn’t have taken over as leader of the Velociraptors in Jurassic World. Following this logic, they probably would have sided with Owen Grady.

2. The pterosaurs probably didn’t dive into water

Within the context of a movie, the sight of a pterosaurs diving from the sky into the water is impressive. But in reality, the creature probably didn’t partake in such a maneuver. Some of them, however, may have consumed fish. So while the dive itself is unrealistic, perhaps the movie depiction isn’t too far from the mark.

1. Many dinosaurs were dancers

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So, many dinosaurs were feathered, and some had wings. And to make the most out of these features, some species would have performed dances. As expert Jack Horner explained to Business Insider, “We know now that many dinosaurs were dancers. The feathers were for display, as muscles in their tails helped them wave and wiggle and flaunt their feathers.”

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