Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mesozoic Miscellany 70

Newsie Bits: Dispatches from Isla Nublar Edition

Just as the previous installment of Mesozoic Miscellany went up, the Jurassic World trailer hit the web, sparking conversation, argument, and ranting that continues unabated. From a JP-virgin's-eye-view to a celebration of my personal favorite scene of the original film to an interview with a leading figure in the online JP fan community, we've certainly written many words about Jurassic Park over the years. I vacillate daily about whether I should chime in about Jurassic World. I find I have sympathies with "both ends of the spectrum," leaning more towards the negative side, but wonder how much I can really contribute to the conversation.

Anyhow, we'll see if I can resolve my own feelings to the point that I feel like posting about the trailer and the issues that have been discussed over the last couple weeks. In the meantime, here is a collection of writing that represents this sprawling discussion pretty well: reactions positive, negative, and pragmatic.

First up, a brief interview with Jack Horner himself about his role as an advisor on the franchise. Oddly, he seems to think that riding down a river populated by titanic sauropods and thagomizer-bearing stegosaurs would be no more dangerous than being around cows in a pasture. Which seems kind of unlikely.

Tony Martin wrote about the ichnology of the Jurassic World trailer.

John Conway's been particularly vocal, and with his hilarious grumpiness concerning most movies he and Darren talk about on the TetZoo podcast, you can probably guess where this is going. He's not just bashing it for the sake of it, however: he's specifically annoyed by the ways critics of the JW dinosaurs are dismissed as being supercilious nerds. He's written some of the best defenses of JW critics so far, at his blog and in a guest column at the Guardian. He and Darren have a fun conversation on the latest TetZoo podcast, as well.

On the other hand, Chris DiPiazza offered his perspective at Jersey Boys Hunt Dinosaurs, and is pretty excited for the movie - especially to see what's going on with the seemingly trained pack of raptors. At the Ornithischian Revolution, Ali Nabavizadeh shares similarly optimistic thoughts.

The Jurassic World website, presented as a straight-faced corporate site dedicated to the working park in the fictional JP universe, was launched around the time of the trailer. It's pretty well done, and offers some glimpses into the design of the working theme park. However, paleoartist Brian Choo noticed that icons on one of the attractions bear strong resemblance to various illustrations, as if the production designers didn't really, y'know... care about copyright. Matt Martyniuk and Glendon Mellow both cover the issue at DinoGoss and Symbiartic, respectively.

At Prehistoric Pulp, Walt Williams singled out the overt nostalgia-baiting of the trailer. "I don’t want a film whose main draw is reminding you of that great movie you saw as a kid. I want it to stand as a good film on its own."

Will Svensen at Tyrant King Productions is disappointed by what he thinks are boring, badly rendered dinosaurs.

At Antediluvian Salad, Duane Nash takes a pragmatic look, putting the whole JW kerfuffle into context while not necessarily forgiving its flaws.

The mosasaur in the JW trailer is pretty freaking huge, and both Zach Miller and Craig Dylke have posts about it.

Finally, check out the funny Bouletcorp comic about a realistic Jurassic Park.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

There are some new kids on the block that I've seen pop up: first is Gareth Monger's new Pteroformer blog, in which he discusses paleoart as well as sharing progress on his new book project. The second is "Thagomizers," a video series exploring paleoart and pop culture's history of popularizing paleontology (that's a lot of P's). The first episode, introducing the series, went up in November.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City (NEW YORK CITY!?) also launched a new video series. "Shelf Life" explores the museum's collections in monthly videos. Here's the first installment, "33 Million Things."

Fossils for Africa, featuring the art of Luis Rey has been published, and the artist wrote about it at his blog.

David Prus expressed his gratitude for the mighty Deinocheirus this Thanksgiving.

Morganucodon popped its fuzzy little head up at Mark Witton's blog.

Some German-flavored paleo-blogging: Liz Martin writes about the pterosaurs of Stuttgart and Munich, Heinrich Mallison writes an account of the measurement of the Berlin Giraffatitan and provides a wealth of photos at Dinosaurpalaeo. At Saurian, Mark Wildman reflects on the recent SVP meeting in Berlin.

Extant Theropod Appreciation

I've been a fan of the bite-sized natural history podcast Natural Selections for a long time, and they recently had a run of episodes all about birds. Host Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager of Paul Smith's College discussed bird phylogeny, the colors of eggs and their shape, and the ranges of American seagulls.

Paleoart Pick

As an example of a Velociraptor that manages to have the presence of an actual animal that lived as well as satisfying a bit of that AWESOMEBRO badassedness the Jurassic Park films surely require, I submit Ville Sinkkonen's wonderful recent piece.

Velociraptor © Ville Sinkkonen and used with permission.

Check out more of Ville's work at DeviantArt and ArtStation, and consider purchasing a print from him - though he only has his popular "Dave" available at the moment, it's a hell of a piece.


  1. Big thanks for the mention, David!

  2. Many thanks for summing up my thoughts on the matter in the 1st paragraph.


  3. Almost forgot about the following quotes.

    "Finally, check out the funny Bouletcorp comic about a realistic Jurassic Park."

    To be fair, good (I.e. AZA-accredited) zoos have better living conditions than that.

    "As an example of a Velociraptor that manages to have the presence of an actual animal that lived as well as satisfying a bit of that AWESOMEBRO badassedness the Jurassic Park films surely require, I submit Ville Sinkkonen's wonderful recent piece."

    Skrepnick's dromaeosaurids are especially good examples of that. I think it's the eagle eyes.




  4. To be fair to JW, with the appearance of the D-rex it looks a lot like they'll finally put stress on something that has been lurking in off-hand comments by characters Grant and Malcolm during all of the franchise, beginning with it being the actual cause for trouble in the original book: These are not dinosaurs, these are theme park monsters created in the (public) image of dinosaurs.
    Yes, they have original dinosaur DNA in there, but they "filled gaps" and "made corrections" to create something that looked and behaved the way they (geneticists and park managers, apparently not involving a single paleontologist at any point before the events of JP start) thought dinosaurs should look and behave like.

  5. Thanks for the mention! Nice summary of things going on :)

  6. Thanks for the Thagomizers mention, it means a lot to us!

  7. The comments to John's Guardian piece are largely depressing. If there's one demographic you'd expect would be jumping to get on the bleeding-edge avant-garde bandwagon, it's grauniad readers.

    Thomas: thing is, with the previous movies and the exception of the 'D-rex'* in this 'un, I don't think the average moviegoer chuckles about the subtle theme of the artificiality of humanity's constructs via frankenstein genetics, while swirling their cognac glasses and adjusting their monocles. I expect the general reaction will be the same as it's been for years: 'dese iz dinasawrs! All big an skayree an eatin peeple! Dinasawrs are ded kewl an I'm gonna read the internets about em an... Wat's dis? Dis runty fevvery fing ain't vlossarapter! Dese dinasawrs are rubbish! Not like proper dinasawrs like in Jrassik Werld! Boo!'

    Ahem. Well, you get the idea with that.

    *I think it only deserves the dash and not the binomial contraction; and what's the D stand for? Desperation?


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