When dinosaur fans flock to theaters on Thursday (June 9) to see "Jurassic World: Dominion" (Universal Pictures, 2022), they'll be mesmerized by myriad prehistoric beasts. But how do these paleo-creatures, and the film's scientific facts in general, stack up against what's known by real-world paleontologists?
To find out, Live Science spoke with two experts in the field: Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who served as the movie's scientific advisor; and Kenneth Lacovara, the founding dean and professor at the School of Earth and Environment and the founding director of the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park and Museum at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Lacovara also discovered and named the mighty Dreadnoughtus, a long-necked and enormous sauropod dinosaur known as a titanosaur, which is featured in the film.
When the movie's director, Colin Trevorrow, first approached Brusatte, Trevorrow said "Look, I'm starting to write the next film. I want to put in a bunch of new dinosaurs, and I want to put in some feathered dinosaurs — finally," Brusatte told Live Science. Feathered dinosaurs are "something we've all been pining for in the paleontology world," said Brusatte, who immediately agreed to weigh in on the film's scientific foundations.
For instance, "Jurassic World: Dominion," which stampedes into U.S. and U.K. theaters on Friday (June 10), features a herd of duck-billed dinosaurs known as Parasaurolophus racing through a snowy landscape. "There would have been some dinosaurs that did live in the snow," Brusatte noted. Although the Earth overall was warmer during the dinosaur age than it is today, "above the Arctic Circle and even close to the Arctic Circle, it would have been cold, especially during the winter months," he said.
Brusatte also discussed parental behavior in dinosaurs, as Blue, one of the movie's star raptor dinosaurs, is seen caring for its youngster, Beta. "A lot of the smaller dinosaurs, the ones that had feathers, the ones that were very bird-like, they did care for their young," Brusatte said. "We actually have fossil parents sitting on their nests protecting their eggs — very sadly, protecting their eggs from, like, sandstorms and floods that ended up burying them."
While blockbuster movies like "Jurassic World: Dominion" aren't scientific textbooks (for example, some of the sizes of the prehistoric behemoths, such as the marine reptile Mosasaurus, are exaggerated), it's hard to overstate the importance the movie series has had on paleontology.
"I'm sure that there are going to be kids watching 'Jurassic World: Dominion' who are going to become paleontologists or scientists because of these films," Lacovara told Live Science.
So, how did he rate the movie's depiction of Dreadnoughtus, a 65-ton (58.9 metric tons) titanosaur that lived about 77 million years ago in what is now Patagonia, Argentina?
"I really like this," Lacovara said, after seeing the trailer. "I really like how muscular the legs are, and you can see those wide sternal plates there separating the chest. They had a very wide-gauge stance. I like also how the body is mostly parallel with the ground, which I think is your at-home posture for these kinds of creatures. It looks massive, it looks powerful, it doesn't look particularly friendly. This is how I imagine Dreadnoughtus to be."
You can watch our video interview here and on YouTube (opens in new tab).
Originally published on Live Science.