nandi's blog

Jurassic World 3 Theory: Why Dominion Is Returning To Site B

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

With Dominion potentially returning to Isla Sorna aka. Site B, the island could be the key to ending the Jurassic World trilogy's story.

With Dominion potentially returning to Isla Sorna aka. Site B, the island could be the key to ending the Jurassic World trilogy's story. 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park isn't typically considered the high point of the franchise, but it did add an important element to the mythos of the original Jurassic Park movie. Both the film and the Michael Crichton novel from which it was adapted introduced the idea of Site B, a place where InGen cloned and bred their many dinosaurs before transporting them to Isla Nublar. When his dream of a dinosaur theme park went down in flames, InGen founder John Hammond thusly attempted to redeem himself by pushing to make Isla Sorna a natural preserve for the creatures - something he was eventually able to do by the end of the sequel.

While the island was subsequently revisited in Jurassic Park III, it has yet to play a role in the plot of the ongoing Jurassic World trilogy. The first Jurassic World movie picked up in real-time (22 years) after the events of Steven Spielberg's original 1993 blockbuster, with Masrani Global Corporation having since bought InGen, resumed its dinosaur cloning, and successfully opened the eponymous theme park on Isla Nublar. After the resort was shut-down in the wake of the Indominus Rex and other escaped creatures wreaking havoc upon its guests, the island was faced with a new threat: a long-dormant, then suddenly active volcano that threatened to wipe out every dinosaur still living there.

As seen in 2018's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the trilogy's leads Owen Grady and Claire Dearing were able to help get many of Isla Nublar's dinosaurs out in time, only for them to wind up being imprisoned and put up for auction on the black market. The movie ultimately ended with the creatures being set loose into the world, leaving it to the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion to answer the question of what will become of them, and whether dinosaurs will be able to coexist (more or less) in harmony with humanity or have to go extinct once again. This could be where Site B comes into play.

Jurassic World 3 Is Returning To Site B, Isla Sorna

Recently, Dominion director Colin Trevorrow (who also helmed Jurassic World and co-wrote Fallen Kingdom) confirmed the film will revisit Site B one way or another by posting a set photo that shows an InGen container labeled, very clearly, "Site B: Isla Sorna". Despite being overlooked in the previous two Jurassic World movies, it's only appropriate Isla Sorna finally be acknowledged in the trilogy finale. Both Trevorrow and the Dominion cast have played up the idea of this installment being as much a conclusion to the six-part Jurassic film saga as is it an ending to the Jurassic World trilogy. To continue ignoring the island's existence would be to leave a pretty significant plot thread dangling after 2001's Jurassic Park III established the second dino-island is still going strong four years after The Lost World.

Site B Is The Only Dino-Island Left After Isla Nublar's Destruction

Since Isla Nublar is no longer around after its destruction in Fallen Kingdom, that leaves Isla Sorna as the only dino-island standing at the beginning of Dominion - in theory, anyway. It's debatable what state Site B will be in when the film picks up: a tie-in website created for the Dinosaur Protection Group (an organization founded by Claire between the first and second Jurassic World movies) revealed the island's dinosaur ecosystem was destabilized when InGen carried out illegal cloning in 1998 and introduced the Spinosaurus (as seen in Jurassic Park III) into the population. After the creature replaced the T-Rex as Site B's apex predator and threw its natural order out of whack, Masrani transported the remaining dinosaurs to the Jurassic World park and Site B was abandoned.

Still, it would make sense for there to still be some dinosaurs (perhaps smaller species that are better at avoiding being captured or eaten) living on Site B when Dominion starts up. The movie could also simply elect to retcon or ignore the DPG website, which was only ever a piece of viral marketing anyway, and not something the majority of moviegoers are going to be familiar with. Alternatively, it's possible part of the plot of Dominion will involve humans visiting Site B to determine whether the island is still capable of sustaining dinosaurs in large numbers given the rights conditions. Under those circumstances, it would be useful to have some individuals along who've actually been to Isla Sorna at some time or another, bringing us to our next point.

Site B Can Explain Dominion's Returning Jurassic Park Characters

In addition to bringing back human characters from the first two Jurassic World movies, Dominion will feature the return of the original Jurassic Park's three leads: Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm. Of the three, only Malcolm has appeared in the Jurassic World trilogy so far, with scenes depicting his testimony before the U.S. Senate about how to best handle the situation with Isla Nublar bookending the events of Fallen Kingdom. However, Neill has already confirmed that he and his costars will appear throughout the events of Dominion and not just as a cameo, in turn underscoring the idea that Trevorrow is really trying to tie the franchise all together with this film.

Seeing as Malcolm and Grant both visited (make that survived) Site B during, respectively, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, it's possible part of their roles in Dominion will involve them consulting on the idea of Isla Sorna being inspected and used as a natural preserve for the dinosaurs again, albeit this time permanently. And despite having never been there herself (recall that, during Jurassic Park III, she was contacted by Grant via satellite phone, and sent in the Marine Corps and Navy to rescue him and the others stranded on the island), Sattler's knowledge of paleobotany could prove similarly indispensable in determining whether Site B can be used as a new home for the dinosaurs in the film.

How Isla Sorna's Return Can Help End The Jurassic World Trilogy

Depending on how it's incorporated into Dominion's plot, Site B could be where the dinosaurs roaming freely in the world are moved to, giving them a place completely their own to reside in peace (rather than as a theme park attraction). It would be a much better way for Jurassic World's leads to honor Hammond's legacy and brings things full-circle to the original Jurassic Park by revisiting its themes about the responsibility that comes with wielding the power of creation. Obviously, such an ending would be similar to the conclusion to The Lost World, but with the benefit of having tied off a massive dangling thread (the question of what became of Isla Nublar) and having firmly laid to rest any notion that a theme park full of clone dinosaurs is actually doable, much less a good idea.

The topic of animal rights has also been an overarching issue throughout the Jurassic World movies so far, making it all the more likely Dominion will find some resolution to the dilemma of what to do with the surviving - and still-growing - dinosaur population that's more complicated than merely killing them off. Site B becoming a dinosaur safe haven could be perfect for that that, providing the Jurassic World trilogy with a narratively organic payoff to Fallen Kingdom's cliffhanger ending, while at the same time calling back to The Lost World and bringing its own animal rights concerns to the forefront once more. As far as ways to close off one era of Jurassic Park/World films go (while perhaps subtly paving the way to a new one along the way), this seems like a fairly elegant solution on paper.


6 Best Places To Experience Dinosaurs In Canada

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


Dinosaurs used to roam the Earth, and now we roam the Earth looking for them. The two main ways to experience dinosaurs in Canada are to find the places where you might see evidence of them, and to visit places -- usually museums -- where dinosaur remains have been collected, curated, preserved, and displayed. Sometimes you can have both experiences at the same place.

There are a lot of great dinosaur museums in Canada, but unless they offer a chance to get outside and look for dinosaur evidence nearby, I didn’t include them here.

What counts as a dinosaur? The Natural History Museum in London says that dinosaurs had an upright stance, with their legs vertically under their bodies, unlike the sprawling stance of, say, crocodiles. The museum adds that, with the exception of a few birds, dinosaurs lived on land, not in the water.

Here are a few great places to have a dinosaur-themed adventure in Canada.

1. Fundy Geological Museum, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia


In 1984, expert fossil hunter Eldon George spotted some tiny tracks near Wasson Bluff, near Parrsboro. They turned out to be the world’s smallest dinosaur tracks. Soon after, two American paleontologists found a massive trove of fossil bones, including Canada’s oldest dinosaurs, who lived 200 million years ago.

The Bay of Fundy tides erode this shoreline daily, often revealing more fossils. At the Fundy Geological Museum, the staff keep watch, trying to capture significant finds before they wash away.

Visitors to the museum can see dinosaur fossils, the lab, and mineral displays, as well as learn more about the world’s highest tides. On the museum’s beach tours, you’ll have a chance to explore the bluffs and look for fossil footprints even older than the dinosaurs. You’ll need sturdy footwear for the moderate to challenging walking surfaces.

The most delicious dinosaur experience in Canada is certainly the Dinosaur Dig. After a guided walk, including 3 hours of paleontology field work at the actual research site, you’ll return to the museum for a tour, followed by a well-earned lobster dinner and a campfire on the beach. This is definitely a book-ahead, seasonal experience. What a fantastic day out!

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the nearby Joggins Fossil Cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage site with fossils 100 million years older than the dinosaurs.

2. T.rex Discovery Centre, Eastend, Saskatchewan


The T.rex Discovery Centre in the small town of Eastend is home to some of the oldest dinos in Canada as well as one of the youngest. The Tyrannosaurus rex at the museum, nicknamed Scotty, is about 65 million years old. He’s the biggest Tyrannosaurus rex in the world and was found nearby.

The T.rex Discovery Centre is part of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Eastend is on the Red Coat Trail and gets its name from being at the east end of the Cypress Hills, a unique natural area.

A visit to the T.rex Discovery Centre itself will take an hour or two. This is beautiful open countryside, lovely to drive through in the spring, summer, and fall, but the weather is unpredictable in the winter.

3. Dinosaur Provincial Park, Brooks, Alberta


UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park is the best place in the world for dinosaur hunters. Since 1889, more than 400 dinosaur skeletons from 55 different species have been found here.

The park is open year-round, but for the best access to the bone beds, take one of the guided tours offered seasonally for a fee. The tours are highly recommended to help you get the most out of your visit. With a guide, you can go to the bone beds and find dinosaur fossils for yourself. There’s even a dinosaur checklist to help you understand your discoveries.

The visitor center’s extensive displays explain how the dinosaurs got here, what they looked like, how they lived, and how dramatically the climate and landscape have changed over the last 75 million years.

Dinosaur Provincial Park is hot and dry. It’s in the Badlands, which make up some of Alberta’s most stunning, but almost ghostly, scenery. The photogenic hoodoos, formed by erosion, look like a cross between giant mushrooms and the trunks of ancient trees.

This is a two-day experience minimum if you really want to get into it. The park offers lots of tips for your visit. Past visitors recommend booking tours and accommodations well in advance.

Dinosaur Provincial Park is not the same as the “Dinosaur Museum,” meaning the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. They are about 2.5 hours apart, and each deserves at least a day. You may see scientists from the museum out in the field at the park during your visit.

4. Royal Tyrrell Museum Of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Alberta


The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology has one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs, along with extensive exhibits on many other prehistoric life forms. Designed to engage visitors of all ages and interest levels, it’s got a big window into the lab where paleontologists work on specimens.

The Dinosaur Hall is full of amazing dinosaur skeletons, both large (really large!) and small. Their poses and groupings clearly show who ate whom.

In the Cretaceous Garden, living plants create an environment similar to what existed 75 million years ago in southern Alberta. It’s very different from today’s arid prairie.

One of my favorite spots in this museum is the Burgess Shale exhibit. It depicts life some 505 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs, and it shows in lifelike color, at 12 times their actual size, what some of the underwater prehistoric creatures may have looked like. A few of them could be artists’ dreams of aliens, but they actually did exist, long, long ago. The Burgess Shale itself, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is in Yoho National Park in British Columbia.

A newer addition to the Tyrrell’s collection is the nodosaur specimen found in a northern Alberta mine in 2011. This is a remarkably complete dinosaur, armored plates and all.

There are guided outdoor walks at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, if you want to include them in a day trip. Be sure to check the museum’s website for hours (the museum is closed Mondays), current programming, and booking instructions.

The museum itself is designed to be barrier-free. The outdoor experiences and walks vary in accessibility.

Allow a full day to visit the museum, and be prepared for hot weather during the summer.

Pro Tip: Another Alberta museum farther south, Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum, tells the story of the first dinosaur nesting site discovered in Canada.

5. Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Wembley, Alberta


Northern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia have recently emerged as major dinosaur regions. The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is an award-winning museum close to a big dinosaur bone bed with amazing potential. The museum is named for Canada’s leading paleontologist, who has done extensive field work in Alberta and around the world.

From here, you can go on to Tumbler Ridge, another newer hot spot in the world of Canadian dinosaurs and paleontology.

Wembley is far enough north that it’s best visited in summer for the most convenient weather and access. It could be part of an Alaska Highway road trip or a northern fossil tour.

6. Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia

The greater region of Tumbler Ridge is home to the world’s only known tyrannosaur trackways. In fact, the majority of the world’s known dinosaur tracks are here, and it was only recently that they were discovered and recognized for what they are. Unlike in southern Alberta, dinosaurs are somewhat new and exciting to British Columbian paleontology.

The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation grew up soon after two local boys discovered the dinosaur tracks in the year 2000. A community initiative, the foundation has attracted enough support to create a Discovery Gallery and the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre. This is the archive of the fossil finds.

The museum now offers tours to see the trackways. This video highlights the dinosaur finds at Tumbler Ridge, the potential for more, and the enthusiastic community support.

Before traveling to Tumbler Ridge, which is fairly remote, get in touch with the museums to learn how to become involved and how to visit the fossil sites.


Tanystropheus hydroides: Triassic Aquatic Reptile Had Extraordinarily Long Neck

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Tanystropheus hydroides. Image credit: Emma Finley-Jacob.

Tanystropheus hydroides, the newly-described species of reptile that lived 242 million years ago (Triassic period), was about 6 m (20 feet) long, with the neck making up half of that length — three times as long as its torso.

One of the most remarkable Triassic reptiles, Tanystropheus is characterized by an extraordinarily long and stiffened neck that is almost three times the length of its torso, despite being composed of only 13 hyper-elongated vertebrae.

It was first described as a single species, Tanystropheus longobardicus, in 1852, and it’s been puzzling paleontologists ever since.

For a long time, scientists weren’t sure whether this reptile lived on land or in the water. Its bizarre body didn’t make things clear one way or the other.

Tanystropheus looked like a stubby crocodile with a very, very long neck,” said Dr. Olivier Rieppel, a paleontologist at the Field Museum.

In the same region where many of the big Tanystropheus fossils were found, in what’s now Switzerland, there were also fossils from similar-looking reptiles that were only about 1.2 m (4 feet) long.

So not only were scientists unsure if these were land-dwellers or marine animals, but they also didn’t know if the smaller specimens were juveniles or even a separate species.

To solve these two long-standing mysteries, Dr. Rieppel and colleagues used newer technologies to see details of the animals’ bones.

The large Tanystropheus fossils’ skulls had been crushed, but the researchers were able to take CT scans of the fossil slabs and generate 3D images of the bone fragments inside.

The skulls had key features, including nostrils on top of the snout like a crocodile’s, that suggested Tanystropheus lived in the water.

It probably lay in wait, waiting for fish and squid-like animals to swim by, and then snagged them with its long, curved teeth. It may have come to land to lay eggs, but overall, it stayed in the ocean.

Two species of Tanystropheus co-occurred in a Middle Triassic coastal habitat. Image credit: Spiekman et al, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.025.

“That neck doesn’t make sense in a terrestrial environment. It’s just an awkward structure to carry around,” Dr. Rieppel said.

To learn whether the small specimens were juveniles or a separate species, the scientists examined the bones for signs of growth and aging.

“We looked at cross sections of bones from the small type and were very excited to find many growth rings. This tells us that these animals were mature,” said Dr. Torsten Scheyer, a paleontologist at the University of Zurich.

The authors named the larger species Tanystropheus hydroides. The small form bears the original name Tanystropheus longobardicus.

“The small species likely fed on small shelled animals, like shrimp, in contrast to the large species which ate fish and squid,” said Dr. Stephan Spiekman, a paleontologist at the University of Zurich.

“We expected the bizarre neck of Tanystropheus to be specialized for a single task, like the neck of a giraffe. But actually, it allowed for several lifestyles.”

“For many years now we have had our suspicions that there were two species of Tanystropheus, but until we were able to CT scan the larger specimens we had no definitive evidence. Now we do,” said Dr. Nick Fraser, keeper of natural sciences at National Museums Scotland.

“It is hugely significant to discover that there were two quite separate species of this bizarrely long-necked reptile who swam and lived alongside each other in the coastal waters of the great sea of Tethys approximately 240 million years ago.”

The team’s paper was published in the journal Current Biology.


Stephan N.F. Spiekman et al. Aquatic Habits and Niche Partitioning in the Extraordinarily Long-Necked Triassic Reptile TanystropheusCurrent Biology, published online August 6, 2020; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.025


Where Was The Lost World Jurassic Park Filmed?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Directed by a master of adventure films, Steven Spielberg, ‘The Lost World’ is the second movie in the Jurassic Park Series and a sequel to ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993). Undoubtedly, one of the most captivating sci-fiction movies in the childhood of almost every 90’s kid. A storyline filled with a chain of thrilling scenes is no less than a once-in-a-lifetime safari. While Dinosaurs returned to the big screen, visual effects also established a new level of proficiency with ‘The Lost World.’

The Lost World Jurrasic Park: Filming Locations

To create something as unusual as this onscreen, more than regular efforts are required offscreen. Production designer Rick Carter traveled to different parts of the world including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, and Australia to find the precise shooting locations. South America and Costa Rica were not even considered for filming as the shooting period was scheduled when it rains heavily in those regions. They still managed to bring the tropic essence in the movie as the tropical sound effects, originally recorded in Costa Rica, were added. The final locations where ‘The Lost World’ was filmed can really come as a surprise to many.

The Redwood Forests of Eureka, California

Unlike the first movie, that was filmed in Kauai County, Hawaii, ‘The Lost World’ was supposed to be filmed in New Zealand. Due to the high cost in New Zealand and financial benefits offered by Humboldt County, director Spielberg agreed on California. Hence, it became a central location where most parts were filmed. With some assistance in scouting the spots in Prairie Creek Redwoods, the team finally began to film. Spielberg had to commute via bus to the remote shooting location daily. The team selected this location based on research which stated dinosaurs lived in forests like Eureka, not the tropical forests.

The filming started in Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. A couple of weeks later, the team moved to another location – Eureka, Patrick’s Point State Park – for further scenes. A private property located in Fieldbrook was the last spot of filming.

Universal Studios Hollywood

After the on-site shoot, the movie filming continued in Universal Studios, Hollywood. The production crew faced space issues in Hollywood. They had to switch between various stages at Universal and those were not in use at the time. Filming in the studios may sound easier but the team had to go through different ideas for almost every scene. After all, it was not all special effects.

A workers’ village was built on the set which was not brought down after the completion rather it was left as it is to be included in the theme park tour. An entire mountainside had to be built over the parking garage of Universal. The mobile trailer lab was, in reality, a 1997 Fleetwood Southwind Storm RV. Various scenes were shot for the trailer with the lab in Eureka and studios. To top the chart, at one point, the crew even had to grow grass on the set!

Mayfield Senior School, Pasadena

During the final week of shooting in California, the scene of Hammond’s residence was filmed at Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, California. A scene where documentarian and photojournalist, Nick Van Owen (played by Vince Vaughn) rise out of a lake was also filmed here.

Kauai County, Hawaii

Director Spielberg filmed many scenes of the first ‘Jurassic Park’ in Kauai. The legendary shot where Compsognathus strikes little Cathy Bowman was shot on the beachside of Kipu Kai Ranch. Near the ending, scenes were filmed in a vast area not so far from the beach. Compared to the first movie, ‘The Lost World’ has just minutes-long scenes shot in Hawaii.

The production team decided to have a week’s shooting to take place during the winters in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. The first scene was to be filmed here. But again it had to be canceled and they settled with Kauai County Hawaii. At last, the opening scene of The Lost World was filmed in Hawaii. The second unit crew shot this scene instead of Spielberg who was present on the spot too. The shooting of The Lost World didn’t go as Director, Spielberg originally planned yet it became another groundbreaking addition in the series.


Jurassic World 3 Director Teases Lost World Connection With New Set Photo

Monday, August 10, 2020

A new set photo for Jurassic World: Dominion released by director Colin Trevorrow teases a connection to The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3.

A new set photo from Jurassic World: Dominion teases a connection to The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 3. After more than a decade had passed since the end of Steven Speilberg's original trilogy, Universal relaunched the Jurassic franchise in 2015. The new trilogy put Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in the lead roles and showed the opening of Jurassic World. The sequel trilogy has continued to build off ideas the original Jurassic Park films dealt with, and Jurassic World 3 will now act as a bit of a culminating chapter.

The third film in the sequel trilogy will once again be directed by Colin Trevorrow, who directed Jurassic World but stepped aside on the sequel. One of the biggest selling points for Jurassic World: Dominion early on is the return of the original trilogy cast members. Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum are all returning for significant roles in the new movie. Several other connections to the previous films have been teased already, and now another one has been revealed.

Colin Trevorrow shared a set photo from Jurassic World: Dominion exclusively with Jurassic Outpost and it includes a reference to a familiar location. The image shows a cold storage container inside a lab, and the container has "Site B Isla Sorna" labeled on it. Isla Sorna was first seen in The Lost World and was later revisited during Jurassic Park 3.

The image shows a lab and a cold storage container labeled with “InGen” and “Site B Isla Sorna” on the front.

Isla Sorna is InGen's second and secret location where they originally cloned the dinosaurs before transporting them to Isla Nublar. Ian Malcolm originally was sent there to document the dinosaur life on the island so Isla Sorna could become a natural preserve for the remaining dinosaurs, but there was a separate plan to transport them to a new location in San Diego (which didn't go well). Alan Grant then went to Isla Nublar to help rescue a child and discovered that cloning continued on the island in secret despite it being illegal for InGen to do so. These practices eventually led to Jurassic World opening, but Isla Sorna was then abandoned and hasn't been featured in the last two films.

The appearance of this crate doesn't guarantee that Jurassic World: Dominion will re-explore Isla Sorna, but it is possible. Instead, the more likely implication is that InGen's embryos used for cloning are within this container. While InGen could still have this container in its possession, it has also been revealed that Biosyn will make a return through Lewis Dodgson. The Jurassic World movies have so far told a story revolving around multiple dinosaur-related experiments, so Jurassic World 3 could continue that trend with whatever is inside this container.

Source: Jurassic Outpost /

Obsessosaurus Rex? A Paleontologist’s Guide To Your Dinosaur-Obsessed Kid

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A girl takes her triceratops for a walk. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

Every time Cheri Johnson dropped off her son, Evan, at daycare, he would throw a tantrum because he didn't want her to go. Certainly, she thought, the 20-month-old would not scream all day. So one morning she spied on Evan from behind the day care's glass door. As he was hollering and kicking his feet, she watched the other children try to console him.

"They went to the bookcase and brought him dinosaurs," said Johnson, a senior analyst at the Chicago Transit Authority. "He played with the dinosaurs and he stopped crying. That's how I found out he was into dinosaurs. I never knew."

From then on, all Evan wanted was dinosaurs. He got dinosaur sheets, dinosaur pillows, a dinosaur comforter, dinosaur wallpaper and plenty of dinosaur toys and videos. When he struggled learning his ABCs, Johnson pasted pages from a dinosaur alphabet book onto his wall.

"He knew Ankylosaurus, Brontosaurus, Compsognathus, Diplodocus," Johnson said. "I put that up there and he knew his ABCs. Anything with dinosaurs, he could get."

Evan was usually a quiet kid who stammered his words. But he transformed whenever they visited the Field Museum in Chicago.

"When he went to the museum and he saw the dinosaurs, he didn't stutter. Not at all," Johnson said. "He would talk about those dinosaurs, and I'd be amazed."

Now, several years and a few "Jurassic Park" movies later, Evan Johnson-Ransom is a vertebrate paleontologist completing his master's degree at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. He studies the evolution of feeding behavior in tyrannosaurs, the carnivores that include Tyrannosaurus rex, Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus. Evan, who plans to pursue a Ph.D., said he owes his career path to the early encouragement by his mother and grandmother.

A lot of kids fall in love with dinosaurs. But for many, the romance goes extinct somewhere in adolescence. If you have a dinosaur-obsessed child at home, Johnson-Ransom suggests, now is the time to nurture that curiosity.


Even if they don't grow up to become trained paleontologists, children's fascination with dinosaurs could foster a lifelong appreciation for science.

We asked several expert dino-devotees for advice on how to best play with dinosaurs and encourage that appreciation.

The simplest way is take kids on virtual field trips to museums' fossil collections, like at the Smithsonian or at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. While you're online, take a moment to share some fun dinosaur facts.

For instance, Johnson-Ransom is fond of telling kids that T. rex did not roar.

"They didn't have a larynx or a voice box like mammals do," he said. Instead, they probably made a guttural sound like a bird, which Johnson-Ransom demonstrates by sucking in his gut, puffing up his chest and letting out a deep pigeon-like coo.

"Think of a giant angry duck," he said.

Ashley Hall, a paleontologist and author of "Fossils for Kids: A Junior Scientist's Guide to Dinosaur Bones, Ancient Animals and Prehistoric Life on Earth," has her own favorite piece of dinosaur trivia: "You are closer in time to T. rex than T. rex was to Stegosaurus." The hulking herbivore lived some 150 million years ago while T. rex roamed the Earth around 66 million years ago. The time comparison gets kids thinking about how long dinosaurs ruled the world.

Hall was obsessed with dinosaur toys when she was a child. Her favorite was a pink Parasaurolophus, which is a duck-billed dinosaur with a long curving head crest. Years later, as an adult, Hall went on a fossil dig with a team from the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology and helped excavate the only known baby Parasaurolophus, which they affectionately named baby "Joe."

"Keep your kids interested in dinosaurs," said Hall, who has a tattoo of a Parasaurolophus skull on her arm. "Paleontology is the gateway to science."

Amy Atwater, a paleontologist at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, suggests answering your child's dinosaur questions with more questions of your own. That gets them thinking and helps them develop hypotheses and ways of testing their hunches. "Essentially, you're priming them for the scientific method, which is great for their future."

Atwater loves to share fun facts, like how the T. rex had a mouth full of ferocious teeth and, if it lost a tooth, one would grow back. On her museum tours, she shows children examples of fossilized T. rex teeth.

"They are blown away that one single tooth could be bigger than a banana," said Atwater, who often calls them "murder bananas" with the older kids.

Another fun fact is that some T. rex teeth were longer than the predator's ulna, or forearm bone. "Could you imagine your teeth being bigger than your arm?" Atwater asked.

You can also use T. rex research to introduce kids to scientific debate. Some paleontologists think the giant killing machine was covered in fluffy feathers; others argue it was mostly scaly. There's another argument over whether T. rex had lips that hid its teeth, like a monitor lizard, or lacked them and had its teeth exposed, like a crocodile.

Another activity for dino-obsessed kids is to create "fossilized footprints," said Victoria Arbour, Ph.D., a paleontologist at the Royal BC Museum in Canada. Just grab some Play-Doh, flatten it into a disk, and have your child walk one of her dinosaur toys across it. "If you let that dry out on your counter, it's basically a fossil of your toy dinosaur's footprints," Arbour said.

You could ask your children what sort of information they think paleontologists can infer from dinosaur tracks, such as whether a dinosaur was big or small, walked on two or four legs and traveled alone or with a herd.


But as any parent knows, footprints and feathers aren't why most kids love dinosaurs. They love them for the destruction. Dinosaurs slice each other with sinister claws, gore each other with pointed horns and clobber each other with clubbed tails. So if you're bored on a rainy day, why not stage a Mesozoic melee? Take the toys and make them attack one another.

As the carnage breaks out, ask your child why they think one dinosaur would win over another.

"That's a big part of what we do as paleontologists," Arbour said. "We have to think about why something might be the way it is and then figure out how to justify and test that."

Another game paleontologists recommend playing with your kids is called "Not a Dinosaur." That's because lurking in almost every toy dinosaur collection are several dinosaur imposters.

"Kids love feeling like they're smarter than adults," said Phoebe Cohen, Ph.D., a paleontologist at Williams College. They love that secret knowledge that lets them say "well, actually." So, she said, "go through all of their dinosaur toys and sort of talk to your kids about which ones are actually dinosaurs and which ones aren't."

The main culprits are marine reptiles like mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs; flying reptiles like pterodactyls; and the sail-backed dimetrodon, which is actually more closely related to humans than dinosaurs.

Cohen suggests using dinosaurs as a way to introduce kids to the idea of extinction. "It's not scary to 3-year-olds to talk about a giant rock falling from the sky," she said. It's particularly pertinent as more and more plants and animals become extinct across the world. "For this generation it's something they are going to have to deal with and be faced with, so introducing that concept to them now is a good thing."

Chickens and dinosaurs hang out in the coop. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)


Finally, the coolest fact you can share with your kids is that dinosaurs still live among us.

"Birds are dinosaurs," Cohen said. They are descendants of the same group that claims the T. rex and Velociraptor. If your kids aren't convinced, simply look at the scaly feet of a chicken.

So if you really want to blow their minds, Cohen suggests going bird-watching through your neighborhood. "That flock of pigeons on the corner are actually dinosaurs."


Jurassic World: How Many Dinosaurs Escaped At The End Of Fallen Kingdom?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The remaining dinosaurs of Isla Nublar escaped into the world at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - but just how many are running free now?

Here's how many dinosaurs escaped at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. As much as there is to like (and not like) about the Jurassic World movies, they haven't really lived up to their name so far. Both Jurassic World the film and the first half of its followup, Fallen Kingdom, took place largely on the island of Isla Nublar, where the original Jurassic Park had been constructed so many years earlier. The sequels The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III didn't stray from that formula either, but instead shifted the action to another location known as Site B on the island Isla Sorna: the place where InGen's scientists cloned and raised dinosaurs before transporting them to Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar.

It wasn't until the second half of Fallen Kingdom that the franchise traded in the island setting for a different one in the form of Lockwood Manor, a massive estate owned by Sir Benjamin Lockwood (InGen founder John Hammond's former partner), where the remaining dinosaurs that survived the volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar earlier in the film were transported. There, the creatures were locked in cages on the manor's lower levels by Lockwood's assistant, Eli Mills, in order to be auctioned off on the black market to the highest bidder, along with a new and extremely dangerous hybrid dinosaur known as the Indoraptor.

Long story short, one thing led to another and Fallen Kingdom ended with seemingly every dinosaur trapped in Lockwood Manor escaping into the world. After doing some digging, fans have confirmed there were at least 26 different species of dinosaurs delivered to Lockwood's estate in the film, along with as many as nine additional ones, plus the Mosasaurus that broke out of Jurassic World's lagoon in the prologue to Fallen Kingdom. In the case of at least 14 of those species (the Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Allosaurus, Compsognathus, and Carnosaurus among them), there were 2 or more adults present. It's difficult to say what the ratio of male to female dinosaurs was since it's possible Mills and his scientists had planned on engineering additional dinosaurs rather than breeding them naturally. Then again, there's no strong evidence to suggest they only captured a single sex of dinosaur and the creatures may still be capable of adapting to a single sex environment (like they did in the first Jurassic Park movie), allowing them to grow their numbers in the wild.

Digging a little deeper, there were four rooms in Lockwood Manor with 17-20 cages per room. Assuming each cage held one or more dinosaurs, there could've been as many as 80 or more dinosaurs on the estate's grounds in Fallen Kingdom, with many or all of them escaping by the end of the film. So, depending on when Dominion picks up, the number of dinosaurs running free could be substantially bigger thanks to many of them being able to breed. However, this might not be the case for all of the escaped species, what with the Velociraptor Blue and T-Rex Rexy (as fans have nicknamed the female Tyrannosaurs Rex introduced in Jurassic Park and then brought back for Jurassic World) being the only members of their kind confirmed to have broken out of Lockwood Manor for now. There's also the question of whether companies like BioSyn and their boss Lewis Dodgson (who hasn't been afraid of getting his hands dirty in the past) will have managed to capture some of those escaped dinosaurs and started creating their own when Dominion begins.

Odds are, Dominion will be a little hand-wavy when it comes to revealing just how many dinosaurs are living freely now, lest it call upon audiences to suspend their disbelief too much about whether or not the film's setting truly counts as a Jurassic "World". In all likelihood, things will be more or less like they were shown to be at the conclusion of last year's short film Battle at Big Rock. Set between the events of Fallen Kingdom and DominionBattle at Big Rock indicated there are now parts of the wilderness where people have a legitimate chance of coming face to face with dinosaurs, but they're not necessarily overrunning cities or anything that extreme. At the same time, these are still dinosaurs, so even if their numbers have swollen into the hundreds (assuming there were as many as 80 or more that fled Lockwood Manor), it could still cause serious problems for humanity.


Jurassic Park: 7 Differences Between The Book And The Movie

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Ever since I saw the Jurassic Park movie at my grandparents' house in fall of 1994 (I had to wait nearly a year-and-a-half to see the movie after my dad wouldn't take me with him to see it in theaters), I was hooked. I would watch the Steven Spielberg spectacle whenever given the chance, would play the games, and bury the toys in my backyard. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Jurassic Park. That is until I read the Michael Crichton novel for an extra reading project in a high school English class.

To say there are some differences between the novel and the film adaptation of Jurassic Park would be an understatement 65 million years in the making. Sure, the book and movie are both set in a theme park filled with dinosaurs on Isla Nublar, and yeah, both have a lot of the same characters, but the tone and a lot of what happens on that island are vastly different. So, with Jurassic Park recently hatching on Netflix once again and with members of the original cast teasing their return to the franchise, now's the perfect time to look at some of the biggest differences between the novel and film. And just a heads up, I am going to spoil both versions of the story here, so turn back now if you haven't read the book or seen the movie.

Dr. Grant Has A Completely Different Attitude Towards Children In The Book

One of the major differences between the novel and film adaptation is the characterization of Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and his attitude towards children. When we first meet the paleontologist in the movie version of Jurassic Park, he has no time or patience for children and sees them as more of a nuisance than anything else. Take into consideration Grant's interaction with the young kid at the dig site in the Badlands of Montana. His attitude towards children doesn't change much until the aftermath of the T-Rex attack about halfway through the movie, at which point he becomes a father figure to Lex and Tim and ends up forming a close bond with the brother and sister.

Dr. Grant in the book is a completely different character from the jump, at least in terms of his attitude towards children, and the has a great admiration for young children and is even impressed with Tim's (who is older, but more on that later) fascination with dinosaurs, fossils, and science in general. It is easy to see why Michael Crichton and screenwriter David Koepp made this adjustment as it makes the film version of Dr. Grant into a more realized and dynamic character capable of undergoing a drastic change.

The Ages Of Lex And Tim Were Flipped For The Movie

Fans of Jurassic Park the movie who go back and read the book years later are probably shocked to see that the ages of the two children — Tim Murphy (Joseph Mazello) and Lex Murphy (Arianna Richards) — are flipped in the two different versions. In the novel, Tim is still portrayed as the sibling that is obsessed with dinosaurs, but he is also a computer whiz and the older of the two siblings. These latter two character traits were given to Lex in the 1993 summer blockbuster, but her character's lack of excitement for dinosaurs carries over along with her baseball hat (Lex is a sports nut in the book).

The reason for this change can be attributed to Steven Spielberg, who, according to a comment made by Joseph Mazello with IGN in 2020, promised the future Bohemian Rhapsody star a role in one of his films early on in the child actor's career. It also makes sense as it gives Lex more to do in the movie compared to her whiny and bothersome character from the source material.

The Movie Cuts Out A Lot Of Violence Featured In The Novel

One of the major departures from the novel seen in the film adaptation of Jurassic Park is the toned-down violence. Seriously, the book is one of the most violent pieces of mass-release literature you'll see on the bookshelf, and there's no way some of the scenes could have been filmed without earning the movie an R-rating. Remember Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck), the badass game warden in incredibly short shorts who has the best last line in any movie ("Clever girl")? Well, in the book he fires a rocket launcher at a raptor, cutting it in half in great gory detail. There's also a scene in the book where Henry Wu is eaten alive by a pack of raptors.

There are also scenes in the book where Dennis Nedry is seen carrying his intestines, baby raptors being torn apart by adults, and the big finale where John Hammond falls down a hill, breaks his leg, and is eaten alive by a group of compys. And let's not forget the image of several raptors making an escape on ship seen off in the distance. Seriously, the book is a bloody mess of goodness.

John Hammond Is A Psychopath In The Book

The late Richard Attenborough's portrayal of Jurassic Park founder John Hammond in the movie and the John Hammond from the novel are two completely different characters. Sure, the film version is a little crazy and obsessed with getting the park open (the ice cream scene, anyone), but he's still somewhat of a likable guy. That's all but gone in the original version of the story that depicts Hammond as a raving lunatic whose greed is only superseded by his ego.

Remember the conversation between Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) and Hammond before entering the park, the one where they're talking about children enjoying the park? In the book, Hammond essentially says that he cares about the kids who can afford to get in. And the whole coming to a realization about the failure of the park from the movie? In the book, there's no such revelation even as Hammond is getting eaten alive by his own creation.

Henry Wu's Involvement Is Cut Down To One Scene In The Movie

If you saw Jurassic World in 2015 and were confused why BD Wong's character was treated with such gravitas when all he had was one short scene in Jurassic Park, that's because Henry Wu was a major part of the novel, a part that was trimmed greatly for the 1993 adaptation. It's easy to see why his character got the short end of the stick considering that most of Wu's contributions to the plot are found in flashback conversations with John Hammond. 

In the novel, it is Wu who comes up with the idea of using DNA from amphibians to help fill in the genetic code of the cloned dinosaurs, as well as the person responsible for adding the safety measure of making all the dinosaurs female.

Dr. Ian Malcolm Survives The T-Rex Attack In The Movie

Another major change to a character from the page to the screen is that of Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), the pesky chaos theorist who proves to be quite right in his observations of the execution of the park. In both versions of the story, Malcolm is injured during the T-Rex attack when all the power on the island goes out, but unlike in the movie where he proves to be of service to the rest of the group when restarting the systems, that's not the case in the book.

As his condition (broken leg) and mental state continue to deteriorate (partly due to the morphine), Ian Malcolm becomes somewhat of a lunatic as he inches closer to the death. Instead of offering help in navigating through the vast service tunnels, the mathematician instead goes on long rants about a range of topics until he eventually succumbs to his injuries before help can arrive. Oddly enough, Michael Crichton brought the character back from the dead for The Lost World, which seems like it was written solely to be adapted into another summer blockbuster four years later.

The Movie's Ending Is Much More Uplifting Than In The Book

The ending of Jurassic Park the movie is one of the most uplifting finales, especially when you consider everything that led to the park guests and staff making a daring escape from the doomed park. And while they do escape (some of them, anyway) in the original novel, the optimistic tone seen in the final moments with the birds and soaring score from John Williams are nowhere to be found. Instead, it's a depressing and traumatizing final few pages without the happy ending.

For starters, once the handful of survivors are rescued, the Costa Rican Air Force completely level the island and everything by napalming it to ash. If that's not bad enough, the survivors are detained at a hotel while the Costa Rican and American governments attempt to make sense of what happened on Isla Nublar. The novel ends with Dr. Grant being told that he and the other survivors won't be going home any time soon.

Those are just a handful of the major differences seen in the Jurassic Park movie and book. There are also other minor changes like characters being combined or written out entirely, entire sections of the park never being mentioned (the aviary comes to mind), and other situations that couldn't have been worked into the more family friendly tone of the movie. After all of this, I really want to read the book for the sixth or seventh time.


99-Million-Year-Old ‘Hell Ant’ Attack Captured in Amber

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A worker of the hell ant Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri grasping a nymph of Caputoraptor elegans preserved in amber from Myanmar. Image credit: New Jersey Institute of Technology / Chinese Academy of Sciences / University of Rennes.

Paleontologists have found trapped in a piece of Burmese amber a unique scene of a prehistoric ‘hell ant’ (subfamily Haidomyrmecinae) attacking a nymph of Caputoraptor elegans, an extinct cockroach relative. The ancient encounter presents some of the first direct evidence showing how the newly-identified hell ant species, Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri, and other hell ants once used their killer features — snapping their bizarre, but deadly, scythe-like mandibles in a vertical motion to pin prey against their horn-like appendages. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

“Fossilized behavior is exceedingly rare, predation especially so,” said lead author Dr. Phillip Barden, a researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.

“As paleontologists, we speculate about the function of ancient adaptations using available evidence, but to see an extinct predator caught in the act of capturing its prey is invaluable.”

“This fossilized predation confirms our hypothesis for how hell ant mouthparts worked. The only way for prey to be captured in such an arrangement is for the ant mouthparts to move up and downward in a direction unlike that of all living ants and nearly all insects.”

The hell ant lineage, along with their striking predatory traits, are suspected to have vanished along with many other early ant groups during periods of ecological change around the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 65 million years ago.

“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” Dr. Barden said.

“This fossil reveals the mechanism behind what we might call an evolutionary experiment, and although we see numerous such experiments in the fossil record, we often don’t have a clear picture of the evolutionary pathway that led to them.”

Dr. Barden and colleagues suggest that adaptations for prey-capture likely explain the rich diversity of mandibles and horns observed in the 16 species of hell ants identified to date.

Some species with unarmed, elongate horns such as Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri apparently grasped prey externally, while other hell ants such as the recently-discovered Linguamyrmex vladi were thought to have used a metal-reinforced horn on its head to impale prey — a trait potentially used to feed on the internal liquid (hemolymph) of insects.

“The earliest hell ant ancestors would have first gained the ability to move their mouthparts vertically,” Dr. Barden said.

“This, in turn, would functionally integrate the mouthparts and head in a way that was unique to this extinct lineage.”

“Integration is a powerful shaping force in evolutionary biology — when anatomical parts function together for the first time, this opens up new evolutionary trajectories as the two features evolve in concert,” he said.

“The consequences of this innovation in mouthpart movement with the hell ants are remarkable. While no modern ants have horns of any kind, some species of hell ant possess horns coated with serrated teeth, and others like Linguamyrmex vladi are suspected to have reinforced its horn with metal to prevent its own bite from impaling itself.”

To explore further, the researchers compared the head and mouthpart morphology of Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri and several other hell ant species (such as head, horn and mandible size) with similar datasets of living and fossil ant species.

They also conducted a phylogenetic analysis to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among both Cretaceous and modern ants.

Their analyses confirmed that hell ants belong to one of the earliest branches of the ant evolutionary tree and are each other’s closest relatives.

Moreover, the relationship between mandible and head morphology is unique in hell ants compared to living lineages as a result of their specialized prey-capture behavior.

The analyses also demonstrated that elongated horns evolved twice in hell ants.

While the fossil has finally provided the scientists with firmer answers as to how this long-lost class of ant predators functioned and found success for nearly 20 million years, questions persist such as what led these and other lineages to go extinct while modern ants flourished into the ubiquitous insects we know today.


Phillip Barden et al. Specialized Predation Drives Aberrant Morphological Integration and Diversity in the Earliest Ants. Current Biology, published online August 6, 2020; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.106


'World's Largest Dinosaur' in Alberta goes digital

Saturday, August 8, 2020

'The World's Largest Dinosaur' in Drumheller, Alta. was captured in a 3D scan, seen here. (Source: GeoSLAM)

One of Canada’s biggest and strangest tourist attractions now has a digital twin.

The 25-metre-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex statue in Drumheller, Alta., aptly named the World’s Largest Dinosaur, has drawn thousands of tourists to its gaping jaws since it was built in 2000.

A team member from GeoSLAM, a digital 3D mobile mapping company based in the U.K., recently visited the Alberta attraction and used a handheld scanner to capture an image of the 65-tonne beast.

By walking around the statue at arms length, the device was able to render a near-complete image of the dinosaur and its surroundings, including several cars and trees.

The team says it took less than five minutes to capture the image.

A photo of what is billed as the 'world's largest dinosaur' in Drumheller, Alta. in this June 15, 2010 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland

Digitizing giant dinosaur statues isn’t exactly what the technology was designed for. GeoSLAM bills itself as a mobile-friendly 3D scanning company that can capture comprehensive images of anything from hospitals to entire neighbourhoods.

There doesn’t appear to be a particular purpose for the scan, aside from novelty.

The Drumheller dinosaur is located in the heart of the Canadian Badlands, a region known for its dinosaur fossils and arresting rocky terrain.

The attraction was closed to the public earlier in the pandemic but has since reopened. A few weeks ago, a couple got engaged inside the tyrannosaur’s jaws.

The World’s Largest Dinosaur was built for a price tag of $1 million and is nearly five times larger than a typical T. rex.