Nedry’s death-by-dinosaur in Jurassic Park was one of the movie’s most entertaining kills, but does it hold up to any kind of scientific scrutiny?
Despite shaping pop culture’s perception of paleontology, Jurassic Park’s best death scene was a significant dinosaur lie. Jurassic Park was always a battleground between fact and fiction, attempting to entertain audiences while redefining past portrayals of dinosaurs. Although Jurassic Park will always be a beloved series, it’s important to remember that the animals it portrayed were once real.
The dilophosaurus quickly became one of Jurassic Park’s most iconic and terrifying dinosaurs. Sometimes referred to as a “spitter,” the dinosaur’s ability to shoot venom made for a graphic and satisfying death for Jurassic Park’s antagonist Dennis Nedry in the book and movie. Although not as prominent as other dinosaurs in Jurassic Park’s menagerie, nor headlining the franchise the way the tyrannosaurus rex has since, the idea of a frilled venomous dilophosaurus became a popular portrayal of the dinosaur across modern media.
The Dilophosaurus Killing Nedry In Jurassic Park Wasn’t Based On Real-Life Dinosaurs
Jurassic Park’s dilophosaurus originated many misconceptions about the real-life Jurassic period predator they supposedly cloned. In a film series that once stated, “I bet you’ll never look at birds the same way again,” and wanted to emphasize aspects like dinosaur parental care, it portrayed dinosaurs in a new light, but not always in the most accurate ways. As imagination and education become blurred by popular perception, dinosaurs like the dilophosaurus become subject to myth, despite paleontologists disproving many of Jurassic Park’s ideas.
Throughout the Jurassic Park series, the dilophosaurus single-handedly popularized the image of a goop-shooting dinosaur. Although the blinding chemicals it shot made Dennis Nedry’s death memorable, scientists dismissed the existence of a toxic dinosaur. The closest evidence to a dinosaur that attacked its prey with toxins was a species known as Sinornithosaurus. Noted for having strange teeth and structures in its skull, some paleontologists believed Sinornithosaurus used them to inject venom (rather than spitting it) before the theory became widely dismissed. Regardless, the real dilophosaurus wouldn’t have needed chemicals to blind prey because of its large size. It most likely used more common methods to hunt.
Why Jurassic Park Got So Much Wrong About Dinosaurs
Jurassic Park’s inaccuracies stem from defunct theories and the idea that humanity never fully understood these animals nor the technology used to bring them back to life. Jurassic Park had in-universe problems they had no idea how to address. Unpredictable animals, poisonous plants, mutations, and inadequate waste removal illustrated why Jurassic Park’s theme park was a disaster. The focus wasn’t supposed to be on accuracy but on a world that wasn’t ready for InGen’s dinosaurs. However, Jurassic Park and Jurassic World have defaulted to genetic tampering as an explanation for scientific inaccuracies, even retconning the venomous dilophosaurus as the product of being hybridized with a yellow-banded poison dart frog.
Paleontology is a complicated field, still evolving as humanity continues to make discoveries. Jurassic Park reflected the late author Michael Crichton’s writing in that the science behind his adventures sounded plausible but should never replace proper periodicals, research, and education. Dinosaurs continue to inspire cinema, but as realistic as they may seem on the big screen due to Hollywood magic, it’s always important to recognize that dramatic license has been taken with their science.
More: David Attenborough Proved Just How Wrong Jurassic World’s Dinosaurs Are
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