Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jurassic Park 4: This time, still without feathers

Ever since news came to light that Jurassic Park 4 (IV?) director Colin Treverrow is following the franchise's decision to leave their dromaeosaurs bald, the paleocommunity has been all abuzz with dissatisfaction. It was theorized that dromaeosaurs had feathers even before the release of the first movie, so making three sequels all featuring unfeathered 'raptors' doesn't make the least bit of sense.

For some reason, people just don't like seeing dinosaurs covered in feathers. Look, it's not like the animals were tarred and feathered. It's not an evolutionary punishment. Feathers are the most advanced and complex body covering found in any family, much more diverse and extraordinary than mammalian hair or reptilian scales. Apparently, there are people out there who think that feathered dinosaurs are "lame." If anything, feathers make dinosaurs even more awesome. They do not take away from the fierceness of the species they cover; we don't think that our national symbol, the bald eagle, is any less intimidating because it has feathers. Just because a three-meter-long, sharp-toothed, dangerously-clawed Velociraptor Deinonychus Utahraptor whatever-the-hell-it-is is covered in feathers does not take away from its awesomeness.

The classic Jurassic Park "raptor." Clearly not a Velociraptor. Notice the impossibly-positioned wrists and the complete lack of feathers.
Of course, the JP dinosaurs are genetically modified and cloned and what-have-you, and we're all aware that Jurassic Park is not a documentary. However, it must be made known that dinosaurs had feathers, and there's nothing we can do about it. Even good ol' Tyrannosaurus was probably feathered. I certainly think it was.

Despite its inaccuracies, Jurassic Park was an inspiration to an entire generation of paleo-enthusiasts and paleontologists alike. Ever since dinosaurs made their debut on the silver screen as living, breathing, active animals, a slew of documentaries have been released, exposing the truth about the past maters of the earth. From top-of-the-line graphics to low-budget stop-motion, dinosaur documentaries have picked up the slack that JP left, in terms of accuracy. Documentaries, magazines, and books have set the record straight, and now, more than ever, these resources are available to dino-fans of all ages.

An accurate depiction of Velociraptor. Reconstruction by John Conway.
These resources rid me of any fear for upcoming generations. I do not think that any children who go see JP4 will leave the theaters convinced that dinosaurs stomped around with bunny hands, naked as unfeathered jay birds. They will leave with the image of pop culture's vision of dinosaurs, but they will already know, no matter how young, that real dinosaurs behaved, and looked, much different. Those who wish to believe that dinosaurs are better off bald will continue to do so, though those who know the fossils and the facts will always be around to set them straight.

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