Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No Feathers

I really enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed, so my hopes for the fourth Jurassic Park were raised a smidgen when Colin Trevorrow was confirmed as the director.

Then this happened:
Among the many worries from fans for Universal's Jurassic Park 4 was the possibility that we could see dinosaurs covered in feathers, as opposed to dinos in their classic form. The last installment in the series, 2001's Jurassic Park III, featured velociraptors with feathers. However, Safety Not Guaranteed director Colin Trevorrow, who was recently hired to helm Jurassic Park 4, has taken to his Twitter account to confirm that there will be "no feathers" in the sequel. Trevorrow was reportedly chosen due to his love of the original trilogy and knowing how the world works. Are you happy with the decision to not include feathers?
No, comicbookmovie.com, I'm not. No use for this franchise anymore. Give the dinosaurs to someone who actually cares about them. Glad the fans are relieved, though.

25 comments:

  1. To be fair, they are genetically altered dinosaurs with frog and other reptile dna inserted into the gap, so Its safe to say they wouldn't be anything like how they used to be. This is just me giving the benefit of the doubt however.

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  2. The silliest part, to me, is saying that Jurassic Park 3 featured raptors with feathers, implying that even THAT was something fans didn't like. Right, a pathetic little crest of spines. One thousandth of a step forward, two steps back.

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  3. I prefer my dinosaurs accurate. Surprisingly that does indeed mean NO feathers on most of them. Modern artistic representations showing feathers on every conceivable theropod, and some non-theropods, oversteps the known boundaries in the matter. Feathers are only actually KNOWN from a small number of genera, and, ahile it may be reasonable to assume other types also had them, the fact remains there is NO solid evidence for all theropods, or even all raptors. possessing feathers. Furthermore, in many cases where there IS solid evidence, they were only "protofeathers", not fully-formed feathers, which means the animal would have had a downy/furry appearance, not a feathery one. Sorry, boys & girls, but there is no reason to show a Velociraptor REALLY looking like the "6-foot turkey" condescendingly referred to by the obnoxious child in JP1.

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    1. Saying there's no reason to show Velociraptor with feathers is like saying there's no reason to show it with eyeballs. We don't have eyeballs preserved, do we? But we infer their existence due to phylogenetic bracketing -- the most proximate outgroups where the state is known do indeed have eyeballs -- and osteological correlates -- Velociraptor have scleral rings, and everything alive with sceral rings has eyeballs. Similarly, for feathers we can use phylogenetic bracketing (the most proximate outgroups where the condition is known show fully-formed feathers: microraptorians, Anchiornis, archaeopterygids, and ornithurans) and osteological correlates (quill knobs along the ulna) to pretty securely infer the existence of feathers.

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    2. But Mike, there's no solid evidence for Velociraptor having feathers anywhere on its body other than the forearms ;)

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    3. I'll just give the director some wiggle room and assume that he means there won't be any theropods in the movie at all. The humans will be up against marauding gangs of Plateosaurus.

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    4. Alright, so where's the evidence for scales or bare skin for the majority of genera?

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  4. And so fanboys get a win. Damn it. All that is left for me to hope for is that there are no stupid man-dog-dinos. If there are, Jurassic park is dead to me. Well, even more dead than it already was.

    I hope the adviser gets fired and replaced with a person who understands dinosaurs. I doubt this anti-feather idea was a move from a Paleontologist...

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  5. What made JP great is that the dinosaurs were real animals, not movie monsters. The raptors at the time, for all their inaccuracies, were modern for the time. But unfortunately for the continuity for the series, naked raptors by today's standards are movie monsters.

    Bob: actually, there's pretty solid evidence that velociraptors were fully feathered (if not all theropods). Then again, the animals in JP really are not velociraptors at all in anatomy or size anyway, so maybe that negates the debate in the first place.

    http://notexactlyrocketscience.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/evidence-that-velociraptor-had-feathers/

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  6. There is no reason to show feathered raptors in JP4, because in the world of JP raptors are those seen in JP1 (and I'm not among those mentioning genetic mutations or frogs as a justification of that look: simply, JP is a 1993 movie and represents that epoch iconography).
    I hated the "crested" raptors in JP3 because they differed from those in the first movies. I'm happy dinosaurs in JP4 will retain the look of the first movies: JP is not a documentary, and should not be forced to be "updated" to the "real world". In the JP-verse the dinosaur look is the one shown in JP1 and must remain that one until the end of the saga.
    Sequels must follow the original style, since they are part of the same "universe". Othewise, they are not sequels.
    Do you want feathered dinosaurs based on 2013 science? Ask for a reboot.

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    1. As far as I'm concerned, the saga ended with JP1.

      Though that had less to do wth feather(lessnes)s, and more to do with gymnastics.

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  7. For me, it's not even the "no feathers" announcement (which, I'll admit, I wasn't honestly expecting accurate dinosaurs anyway); it's the "LOL, suck it nerds!" attitude of the announcement. What the hell does "dinos in their classic form" even *mean*?!? It's like they don't even understand that they're talking about a real group of animals.

    Fun fact: the first "Jurassic Park" is as old now as "Land of the Lost" was back when "Jurassic Park" premiered. Does anybody know if there were older people upset at the first "Jurassic Park" because the dinosaurs didn't drag their tails or spend all their time failing at life in a swamp?

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    1. They're going back to the tripodal tyrannosaurs and swamp-dwelling sauropods of King Kong? Or maybe the quadrupedal, Hawkins-style Crystal Palace dinos?

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  8. I wonder how much of it is because they've cynically made the decision based simply on cost. I'd imagine it's more difficult (expensive) to convincingly animate a feather-covered dinosaur as opposed to a scaly one, but they are hiding behind "Oh we're doing this for the FANS of the franchise! No, really they want scaly dinosaurs, no feathered ones - we're just doing it for the benefit of the fans, not because we're being cheap arses or anything ".

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    1. A little bit of everything, probably. The like scales, fanboys and doing things cheaply

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    2. I think the reasons are cynical, but more to do with branding and the general public than with CGI costs.

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    3. Yeah, imagine how much more expensive it would be to manufacture feathered toys/models.

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  9. That's what was great about the Jurassic Park series that it had somewhat accurate dinosaurs for their time. I actually remember the great, late Stan Winston saying they didn't fully feathered the raptors in the third movie because it would be too big of a change to the audience but they positively would do it for a fourth one.

    I guess this is just another case of someone, in this case the director Colin Trevorrow, being stuck in the past and going for what he learnt in his childhood. We might even see pot-bellied Tyrannosaurus...

    I guess Jack Horner probably won't want be part of this anymore and I can definitely agree with him.

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  10. I really think a reboot based on the story line of the original novel with updated dinosaur anatomy is in order.

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  11. I don't believe it's entirely fair to lump Jurassic Park fans and science enthusiasts into two separate groups, nor to blame fans for Trevorrow's decision. Most dino movie fans are also dino science fans, and many of us liked Jurassic Park so much specifically because it dared to show scientifically accurate dinosaurs (for the time, anyway).

    Despite what comicbookmovie.com believes, JP fans on the whole are NOT entirely relieved by this announcement. Although I get the reasoning behind it.

    We know for a fact that velociraptors in real life had feathers. Yet the velociraptors in Jurassic Park are already anything but their real life counterparts. They are fictionalized, glamorized versions of reality already and were from the moment Michael Crichton put pen to paper. The non-feathered variety are already established in the film's continuity, for better or for worse.

    But that’s not say any new dinosaurs introduced in the fourth film shouldn’t be feathered. And that's where Trevorrow loses me with his blunt "no feathers" statement. If Trevorrow or the screenwriting team decide to throw in, say, a troodon or oviraptor or even a new ceratopian, there’s absolutely no reason for it not to be feathered.

    With exceptions for continuity and artistic license necessary to the narrative, depicting scientifically accurate dinosaurs should always be a goal and a responsibilty of the Jurassic Park films.

    And maybe I am giving Trevorrow too much benefit of the doubt, but we don't yet even fully know what his "no feathers" statement was referring to. Is it "no feathers, period" or just "no feathers on a specific dinosaur" while leaving room for the possibility on others?

    I can't believe Jack Horner as the film's consultant isn't pushing harder for more accurate, feathered dinosaurs. There's still time for minds to be changed and scripts to be re-written. Maybe a little push from the pro-science community is just what they need.

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  12. I agree with the first commentator. Jurassic Park dinosaurs are NOT really dinosaurs. They are genetically engineered theme park monsters.

    The fans of this film franchise are very protective of 'their' characters, so the I suppose film makers have got to give them what they want. It's a massive shame, though - because I would have preferred to see anatomically correct dinosaurs myself (although I'm not about to get angry about it).

    It's actually quite interesting that in the subtext of the first film especially, we have the 'dinosaurs are birds' mantra, from Dr. Grant. Yet here we are in 2013 and... still no feathers! You gotta laugh really..

    It's also incredible just how many comments this post has received. I guess EVERYONE loves Jurassic Park!

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  13. The problem is even if they are theme-park monsters, the general audience member who hasn't read about dinosaurs since her or she was seven would have no idea that they are said theme park monsters and not accurate dinosaurs. Honestly, I think the fight for feathers is basically forfeit. Don't get me wrong, I prefer my deinonychosaurs birdlike. Scaly raptors have just been stamped into the public imagination alongside Norsemen with horned helmets and George Washington cutting down a cherry tree and all of the other historical fallacies the average person takes to the grave.

    I really doubt feathered dinosaurs will catch on, or at least not for the next couple of decades. (Consider the twenty year delay between the discoveries in the sixties and seventies and the release of JP1). But hey, who knows, if that Chickenosaurus thing works out it might make a media stir.

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    1. It is probably just a generational thing - there are already children's book out there that have theropods illustrated with generous plumages (for example: http://childrensbooksdaily.com/review-of-dinosaur-rocks/). It's just the current generations of "adults" who might have hang ups about feathered dinos. This issue was brought up very briefly in episode 6 of the Breaking Bio podcast (skip to 25:40 for the feather talk) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82mPerU11Iw

      And of course, XKCD illustrated this: http://xkcd.com/1104/
      Feathered dinos will be the norm within the next decade.

      As for what will happen to the Jurassic Park 4... [shrug] to be honest I don't think I really cared too much about the franchise since the second film. The first film had a big impact on me - but that is a long time ago and I haven't had much emotional investment in the series since then. Much like the science, I've simply moved on...

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  14. Ugh. Do yourself a favour and don't read the comments on that article. They devolve pretty quickly into "science is always claiming things that are disproved a year later, so don't talk to me about so-called facts!"

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Trolls get baleted.