Jurassic World – Separating Fact from Fiction

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On Friday, June 22, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the latest installment of the wildly popular Jurassic Park series of films, opens in wide release across the United States. This epic action-adventure film sees the return of several favorites—including Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor—along with some new dinosaurs sure to surprise.

But, does the film accurately portray dinosaurs? What does the film get right about dinosaurs and where does it take some creative liberties? How do we know? Some of the questions that people still have about dinosaurs include these:

  • 1.Why are there no dinosaurs alive today? The main plot of Jurassic World revolves around scientists who brought dinosaurs back from extinction through genetic engineering. Dinosaurs ruled the world from about 230 million years ago to about 65 million years ago, and then they came to a sudden end. What happened?

  • What did dinosaurs look like? No person has ever seen a live dinosaur—dinosaurs went extinct tens of millions of years before humans appeared on Earth. So how do we know what they looked like? Scientists can reconstruct dinosaurs from their fossils to give us a good idea what different dinosaurs looked like. Some fossils even preserve skin texture, scale patterns, and the presence of feathers. However, it is much more difficult to tell from fossils what color dinosaurs were. Today, scientists study melanosomes, tiny cells that produce pigments, found in some fossils to help determine what color dinosaurs might have been.
  • Why did Tyrannosaurus have such small arms? Tyrannosaurus, one of the most well-known dinosaurs, was one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs that ever lived. So, does the film accurately depict this dinosaur? Most scientists agree that Tyrannosaurus was an active hunter that could run for short distances as shown in the films. But, scientists disagree about exactly how the predator used its small arms. Some regard the arms as strong limbs that helped the animal grab prey. Others believe the limbs were weak and virtually useless. Some think that they only used their arms when lifting themselves up off the ground after resting.
  • Did Velociraptor really hunt in packs? In the Jurassic Park films, Velociraptor is portrayed as a terrifying predator. But from fossils, scientists know its body was roughly the size of a turkey with a long tail. In real life, Velociraptor may have somewhat resembled a strange, fierce bird. Velociraptor was a hunter. It could run quickly on its two powerful hind legs, using its stiff tail for balance. Some scientists have suggested that Velociraptor hunted in packs, but there is no solid evidence for this idea.

Most scientists agree that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by the impact of a large asteroid that hit near present-day Mexico around 65 million years ago. The impact would have caused a series of events that killed the dinosaurs. Other creatures, including mammals and birds, survived this catastrophe.

You can separate fact from fiction and learn all about dinosaurs with World Book’s Dinosaurs!

This four-volume series that brings into striking focus the mighty beasts that ruled our planet for millions of years. The books cover all the major groups of dinosaurs, from fierce and deadly meat-eaters to the gentle giants that fed on plants. This series introduces readers to the dinosaurs that they know and love, such as Tyrannosaurus and Apatosaurus, and exciting new species that they have yet to meet. Features include an original drawing of each dinosaur, fun facts, a glossary, and a list of additional resources.

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