WHEN: 8:50am EST, August 31st, 2013
WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME
FORMAT: DVD on a 19” AOC LED computer monitor
MENTAL STATE: Groggy, under the weather.
TWO ERAS BROUGHT TOGETHER:
“The world has just changed so radically, and we’re all running to catch up. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but look: Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together, how can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect?”
The age of the dinosaurs recreated for modern man, it’s what we’re all here to see. How will these two species interact? Who will survive? Who will get eaten? It’s intriguing. It’s exciting. It’s also completely flawed.
Far from the homogeneous group implied by Grant’s statement, dinosaurs come in all shapes and sizes, from many diverse locations, and radically different time periods. While he is correct about not knowing what to expect, the idea that the island could function as a little Jurassic ecosystem is a horrible error indeed.
Alright, let’s start with the basics. Hammond brought fifteen species of dinosaurs back from beyond their eons old graves. Going off of what we see, and what we see labels for on embryo tubes, they are:
Brachiosaurus 154-153 Mya
Tyrannosaurus 67-65 Mya
Parasaurolophus 76.5-73 Mya
Velociraptor 75-71 Mya (but judging by their size, probably actually Utahraptor, 126 Mya)
Dilophosaurus 193 Mya
Triceratops 68-65.5 Mya
Proceratosaurus 165 Mya
Gallimimus 70 Mya
Stegosaurus 155-150 Mya
Metriacanthosaurus 160 Mya
And five others not seen or mentioned in the film.
You might be wondering what those Mya things next to the dinosaurs are. No, they aren’t how many Maya Angelous each of them could eat, that’s how many million years ago we estimate they lived (according to super reputable sources). Dinosaurs come from different periods of time; Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. This might not seem like much. Those time periods are right next to each other, after all. It’d be like putting together guys from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s; they wouldn’t have too much trouble getting along.
The problem is that we’re talking about phenomenally large periods of time. Some of these dinosaurs are farther apart in time from each other than they are from us. A given Dilophosaur and Tyrannosaur might have lived 128 million years apart. That’s almost double the 65 million years between the Tyrannosaur and a human. Why, just look at this hastily MS Painted timeline:
For the purposes of this timeline, I have picked points roughly in the center of each species’ duration on the planet. Gallimimus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus, for example, have some overlap and could easily have lived at the same time. And, again, I have substituted Utahraptor for Velociraptor.
The gaps of time between the different species are mindbogglingly enormous. Even the smaller gaps, such as between Parasaurolophus and Gallimimus, consist of millions of years. Such a number is difficult for us to even conceive of in practical terms, yet it is one of the smallest gaps between Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs and man, are not “two species separated by 65 million years,” they are an entire class of animals, and one species. It would be like saying “anthropoids and Welsh Corgis.” The two terms don’t mesh. Even worse, some of the species are so remotely separated from each other in time that lumping them together is just absurd. It’s more ridiculous than a zoo that claims moose and Bengal tigers share a habitat. But there’s more…
PLANTS AND MORE:
When you fill an island with large herbivores, you’re going to need a lot of greenery to feed them. But when you’re dealing with plant-eaters from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, will modern vegetation do? As Sattler touches upon, plants are a huge part of ecosystems and, just like animals, they change and evolve. For Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs to live healthy lives, they need the appropriate foodstuffs. Where would you even start?
Even if Hammond found some unspecified way of bringing back extinct flora too (it would appear that he has, or else Sattler is pretty bad at plant identification), they also would be scattered specimens from all across time. Perhaps he just found appropriate modern counterparts. In any event, whatever he’s feeding these big beasts probably isn’t natural. Hopefully it doesn’t give them the dino-shits.
And what about microbes? Some are integral to our digestive systems. Others break down our poop. We live symbiotically with them, and we don’t even think about it. Unfortunately for Hammond’s clones, the microbes that specialized in dino-digestion and dino-crap-disposal no doubt went extinct tens of millions of years ago.
Before you eat Gennaro, maybe you ought to think about who’s going to help you digest him. Soon it might be you who’s “gotta go.”
My point is, fifteen species of dinosaurs (and maybe a handful of plants) do not an ecosystem make. This isn’t a case of “man meets dinosaur,” it’s “man meets fifteen species from grossly different time periods all awkwardly crammed into a park with out any microbes to break down their poo.” Ugh. Putting it that way, I can’t endorse this park either.