Quick Take: What Jurassic World Got Wrong (and Right) About Dinosaurs

Kenneth Lacovara with Melissa Harris-Perry on "The Melissa Harris-Perry Show"
Kenneth Lacovara with Melissa Harris-Perry on “The Melissa Harris-Perry Show” discussing dinosaurs.

“Jurassic World,” the long-awaited sequel to the movie “Jurassic Park,” shattered box office records in its opening weekend. But has it had comparable gargantuan success in improving viewers’ knowledge about what dinosaurs were really like?

“’Jurassic World’ is not a textbook; it’s not a peer-reviewed paper. It’s a fun summer monster movie, and on that level it really works,” Kenneth Lacovara, PhD, told LiveScience. Lacovara, a professor of paleontology and geology in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences and paleontology fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, has weighed in on the film’s presentation of dinosaur science in several media outlets since its release.

Whet your appetite with a video from GQ magazine featuring Lacovara’s reactions to the film trailer.

If you’re ready for a small movie spoiler ahead, read another excerpt from his comments to LiveScience:

“In reality, despite the inexhaustible supply of T. rex-has-short-arms jokes on the Internet, Tyrannosaurus rex, like all organisms, was exquisitely adapted to its environment — it had the arms it needed, as is evidenced by its success. Longer arms on a T. rex does not necessarily confer a selective advantage. In fact, they would require more energy to grow and maintain, present additional area to sustain injury, and provide additional tissue for infections to set in.

Sure, Indominus rex, with its long arms, could have put on its hat, answered the phone and done push-ups with Chuck Norris, but I’m not sure it would have outcompeted T. rex, the tyrant king, in the hardscrabble jungles of the Cretaceous. But enough of these pedantic quibbles. Go enjoy the monster movie. It’s spectacular!”

You can also watch more of Lacovara’s comments on what we know about dinosaurs and have learned since the first “Jurassic Park” movie, from his interview this weekend on the “Melissa Harris-Perry Show” on MSNBC. Or listen below for his discussion on public radio’s “Science Friday”: