Spinosaurus – Isla Sorna (S/F)

spinosaurus
The Spinosaurus (2001)

The only confirmed Spinosaurus aegyptiacus specimen bred on Isla Sorna by International Genetic Technologies, Inc. was cloned in either late 1998 or early 1999, and was abandoned by its creators after that nine-month period. Much of its life is unknown due to corporate secrecy surrounding both its creation and the contents of Sector 5 on Isla Nublar where it spent its final days. This animal was heavily involved with the 2001 Isla Sorna incident, and is mostly known from its association with that event.

Its sex is unknown; most (but not all) material associated with the film Jurassic Park /// identifies it as male, including commentary from the cast and crew. Newer material associated with the Jurassic World films have, instead, referred to it as female. While some InGen animals are protogynous due to the inclusion of Hyperolius viridiflavus DNA, the reverse process (protandry) is not confirmed. However, it is far from unknown in the animal kingdom, so this animal being male in the earlier parts of its life and female in later parts of its life could have been possible if it were hybridized with species that are naturally capable of this process. Due to the ambiguity of the situation, this article will refrain from making any statement on the animal’s sex.

Name

If this animal was given a name by its original creators or its caretakers in Jurassic World, that name has never been disclosed. During its creation and testing, it was most likely referred to simply using specimen numbers or, more informally, its genus name. As it is unknown if any others of its kind were ever created, it can simply be referred to as “the Spinosaurus” until evidence of others arises.

Biography
Early life

The Spinosaurus was cloned during a nine-month period in late 1998 or early 1999 on Isla Sorna, a 44-square-mile volcanic island located west of Costa Rica. Over the past decade and a half, it had been utilized by International Genetic Technologies as a testing ground for de-extinction research. Following the failure of InGen’s Jurassic Park project in 1993, the island was abandoned. Events in 1997 resulted in InGen having been bought out by Masrani Global Corporation the following year, and within one hundred days of the buyout, InGen had returned to Isla Sorna to perform more research. The results were filed under “Early R&D for Jurassic Park’s second incarnation” and also “Amalgam Testing.” The new animals, including the Spinosaurus, were most likely bred in the Embryonics, Administration, and Laboratories Compound where InGen had done its earlier work.

Concept art of the Spinosaurus incubator by Richard Delgado. Note the claw marks on the plastic sides of the unit.

At the time, heavy restrictions on genetic engineering were in place through the Gene Guard Act of 1997, which sought to prevent further de-extinction from taking place as well as protect the surviving de-extinct organisms. Thus, the creation of this Spinosaurus, as well as at least three other dinosaur species, was in violation of U.S. law. It was performed in secret because of this, and it is highly suspected that the animals created during this period of time were subject to maltreatment. It is at least confirmed that they were given potent growth-accelerating substances. According to some concept art, the Spinosaurus was aggressive toward its handlers during infancy and had to be kept in a specialized incubator to prevent it snapping and clawing at them. Even so, it sometimes attempted to escape by clawing at the sides of its incubator.

By mid-1999, the Spinosaurus and the other new dinosaurs were abandoned on Isla Sorna due to InGen’s fears that their illegal activity would be discovered.

Life in the wild

Growing to its adult size with incredible speed, the Spinosaurus established dominance over the island’s central waterways where it could hunt local fish such as bonitos. It was far from alone in this area; some medium-sized carnivores such as Baryonyx and Ceratosaurus also hunted fish on the island, while on land it faced competition from several Tyrannosaurus.

Most of its life in the wild is unknown. It appeared to be in good health when it was encountered on July 18, 2001, between two and three years after it was bred.

2001 incident

During the summer of 2001, an illegal tourism accident caused two American civilians to become stranded on Isla Sorna. Website engineering entrepreneur Ben Hildebrand died due to his injuries shortly after crashing on the island via parasail, leaving eleven-year-old Eric Kirby alone in Isla Sorna’s western rainforest. Eric’s presence on the island and the ensuing incidents would cause the Spinosaurus a very difficult time.

By mid-June or early July, Eric obtained a sample of Tyrannosaurus rex urine, the smell of which frightened away smaller carnivores such as Velociraptor. However, when the Spinosaurus caught wind of this smell, it recognized a threat to its territory rather than a superior predator. Eric discovered that the tyrannosaur urine scent aggravated the Spinosaurus, but opted not to get rid of the urine sample because of how it frightened away raptors. He most likely hid in small spaces when the Spinosaurus came near. It is unlikely that the Spinosaurus realized that Eric was the source of the smell, and so was frustrated for at least a month by the scent of an intruder that it simply could not find.

On July 18, it was drawn to the island’s airfield by the appearance of an airplane, an entity that it probably would never have seen up close before. There, it found a group of humans, including mercenaries M. B. Nash, Udesky, and Cooper. Upon hearing a human voice calling through a megaphone, it responded with a territorial roar and was shot at by Cooper; the others fled. It managed to wound Cooper during their fight, but the man escaped and followed his fellows back to the airfield. The Spinosaurus followed him into the open, grabbing him in its jaws; as it did, it was hit by the airplane as it began to lift off. Though it sustained only a grazing blow, it was still injured and followed the damaged airplane to its crash site in the jungle to eliminate this new threat.

It tore the plane apart and pulled out Nash, eating him. The airplane’s remains fell from the trees during the fight, and the surviving humans fled the scene; the Spinosaurus attempted to follow them, but they escaped through the thicker trees. The dinosaur continued to stalk the area, eventually finding a more open route through the forest.

No sooner had it found this small clearing than the humans came running back toward it, this time with a young male Tyrannosaurus in pursuit. Now confronted with an actual tyrannosaur instead of just its scent, the Spinosaurus aggressively challenged the invader. A pitched battle between the two ended with the Spinosaurus killing its rival by twisting his skull until the spinal cord snapped. While it was busy fighting the tyrannosaur, its human targets escaped a second time.

Unbeknownst to the Spinosaurus, when it consumed Nash it also swallowed a surprisingly durable satellite phone that had been on the man’s person. Sometime between July 18 and July 19, the phone began ringing from inside its crop; this would likely have caused more distress and irritation to the Spinosaurus. On the morning of July 19, the ringing of this phone attracted two of the human survivors, Eric Kirby and Dr. Alan Grant, to the spinosaur’s location; in turn, their shouting drew the remaining survivors, Eric’s parents Paul and Amanda and Grant’s coworker Billy Brennan. All members of this party converged on a security fence near the aviary, and the noise made by the group alerted the Spinosaurus to their location. It emerged into the open, though it did not attack until its prey were fleeing. According to some sources, the reason it waited to chase them down was because adrenaline-filled prey have a more preferable taste; alternatively, their sudden movement may have provoked its attack.

In any case, it pursued them into the aviary’s observation deck, where they shut themselves inside. The Spinosaurus gave up the chase after losing sight of them, despite attempts to pound the door in; it left the area after this. It appeared to suffer indigestion from the satellite phone, which was found that night in a fresh dung pile without any signs of being damaged by the dinosaur’s gastrointestinal tract.

In the very early morning of July 20, the Spinosaurus kept to its home in the deep channel near the center of Isla Sorna while a fierce thunderstorm pummeled the island. While hunting a shoal of bonitos near the marina construction site, it encountered an unfamiliar object, a river barge, on the surface. It charged and rammed the boat, emerging from the water to further confront it. Upon surfacing, it spotted the same group of humans that had caused it so much consternation over the past two days, this time invading its home. Using its snout and claws, it tore apart the barge’s wheelhouse and motor; the humans hid in the cage on deck, which the Spinosaurus dragged off into the river. It used its snout to locate them and pulled the cage into shallower water, reaching inside to try and extract them. While it struggled with its prey, Paul Kirby managed to climb a nearby construction crane and got its attention by shouting. It turned its ire toward him, shaking the crane to try and dislodge the man; in the meantime, the others escaped the cage and Grant fired a flare gun on the dinosaur. The flare ignited gasoline that had spilled from the barge’s engine, suddenly surrounding the Spinosaurus with a blazing inferno. Not wanting to suffer serious burns on top of all the other hardships it had endured, the dinosaur fled the scene, knocking over the crane on its way out in a vain attempt to kill at least one of the humans. However, all of its intended victims survived.

Ecological collapse on Isla Sorna

Between 1999 and 2004, Isla Sorna’s ecosystem became imperiled by the many new dinosaurs that were introduced by InGen under Masrani Global. The Spinosaurus, while just one animal, was a large enough predator to have a significant influence on the populations of other species. According to the junior novel Flyers, this dinosaur had caused the localized extinctions of other animals in its region of the island, necessitating its relocation in early 2002 to a different part of the island.

Its influence on the population of Isla Sorna was not limited to its direct predation of other animals. In territorial conflict, it killed a Tyrannosaurus, which was the island’s terrestrial apex predator. The Spinosaurus was an apex predator itself, but hunted primarily in the water. As a result, the tyrannosaur’s prey would have bred without the natural controls an apex predator provides.

By 2004, the ecological damage Isla Sorna had sustained was deemed beyond repair. Masrani Global Corporation took the initiative to relocate the surviving animals to Isla Nublar. Beginning early in 2004 and continuing until Jurassic World opened at the end of May 2005, Isla Sorna’s animals were relocated to Isla Nublar. This would have included the Spinosaurus, but the exact date at which it was captured and transported is currently undisclosed.

Captivity on Isla Nublar

Once it arrived on Isla Nublar, the Spinosaurus would have done time in a quarantine paddock where it was inspected for health issues and rehabilitated. Eventually, it was most likely introduced to a habitat in Sector 5, away from the park. Here, it would have been cared for by Jurassic World staff members, and most likely researched by them. Considering the circumstances of its creation and life on Isla Sorna, this would have been far and away the most comfortable time of its life; the price paid for such comfort was its freedom, as it could no longer roam wherever it chose.

Death and legacy

Most of the Spinosaurus‘s later life is unknown. By 2014, it was confirmed to have died, though its cause of death has not yet been released. Its remains were used as a display piece by InGen; its skeleton, cleaned and prepared, was mounted on Main Street near T. rex Kingdom.

The skeleton appears to have been modified from its original appearance. In 2014, fossils of Spinosaurus were discovered that suggest its bodily proportions were considerably different than originally assumed, and it appears that InGen modified the Main Street skeleton to make it more closely resemble these new reconstructions. It is currently uncertain how much of the original skeleton remained by that point.

During the incident on December 18, 2015, the skeleton was partially destroyed by Isla Nublar’s oldest Tyrannosaurus while being led out from her paddock. Further damage to the skeleton’s remains likely occurred due to fires and volcanic debris resulting from Mount Sibo‘s 2018 eruption, and it is unknown if any parts of the original skeleton are recoverable.

Skills
Physical strength and durability

While some of its immense strength may have been the result of genetic engineering (whether an intended or accidental effect), the huge size of the Spinosaurus lent it power. Many aspects of its physiology helped, such as its muscular arms ending in massively clawed hands. Surviving in visibly good health during the most tumultuous period of Isla Sorna’s history proved this dinosaur’s mettle as a fighter, capable of holding its own and keeping itself alive even when presented with major threats.

Swimming

Spending much of its time in water, the Spinosaurus was an excellent swimmer and gained much of its food from hunting in Isla Sorna’s rivers. When in bodies of water, this animal was truly in its element; it could swim better than nearly any other dinosaur, and with no marine predators large enough to challenge it near Isla Sorna, it was truly the master of that environment.

Sensory capabilities

Physiology of the Spinosaurus gave it a reasonably good sense of smell, able to distinguish the unique scents of other animals’ leavings. It could, for example, identify a Tyrannosaurus based on the smell of its urine, even if it could not see the source of the smell. It also had the ability to detect objects moving in even rough water using sensory pits on its snout; by waving its snout back and forth through water, it could locate nearby prey and then snatch it using its hands.

Views
On other animals

Hatched into an environment with far too many animals in it, every minute of the Spinosaurus‘s life on Isla Sorna was a fight to survive. Competition for food and territory forced it to view its neighbors as either potential meals or potential enemies. Even its fellow apex predator, Tyrannosaurus, was perceived as a territorial threat; it would react aggressively to the scent of a tyrannosaur, and when directly confronted with one, it showed no signs of fear and charged into combat with every intention to kill. Humans and their vehicles were no exception to the way it perceived other animals, and whenever it encountered them it responded by attacking.

Because its life in captivity on Isla Nublar is unknown, there is no way to tell whether being given proper care brought any change to the violent behavior its upbringing encouraged.

Relationships
Dr. Henry Wu and InGen

The InGen scientists and other officials who worked on Isla Sorna between 1998 and 1999 have not been named directly, and then-CEO Simon Masrani may not even have been aware that the project was taking place (he did visit Isla Sorna at some point in 1999, but this was sanctioned by the United Nations and was likely unrelated). An archived log retrieved from the Masrani Global website backdoor dated 2/20/2003 has been cited as evidence that renowned geneticist Dr. Henry Wu may have been involved with the operation; he refers in this log to “that accident we left on Sorna,” which has been interpreted as referring to the Spinosaurus. In this log, Wu discusses the potential future uses of gene splicing, and the 1998-1999 research was filed under “Amalgam Testing” by Masrani Global personnel involved with it. Both of these suggest that the Spinosaurus may have been genetically altered by its gene donors, and while Dr. Wu considered it a failure, it likely influenced his later work on the more successful Indominus rex.

After it was created, the Spinosaurus was used by InGen for research over a period of, at most, nine months before being abandoned. During that time, it was administered substances (presumably hormone cocktails) to dramatically accelerate its growth; it reached near adult size by July 2001, less than three years after its hatch date in late 1998 or early-to-mid-1999. This suggests a strong negative relationship with the InGen personnel who created it, as its rapid growth and use in unregulated experimentation would have caused it distress.

It likely had a more positive relationship with InGen staff during its retirement in Jurassic World, where its needs (such as food and medicine) would have been provided to it. While in captivity it also would have been separated from other predators, which likely increased its lifespan as it no longer needed to constantly fight to survive. It may have been used for research purposes by geneticists led by Dr. Wu, but this time Wu and his staff would have likely had more observation from regulatory bodies in the company. However, it is unknown if the care provided by Jurassic World’s staff was enough to alleviate the damage done to this dinosaur’s psychological state during the time after it was created.

While InGen founder Dr. John P. A. Hammond died in 1997, a year before the InGen buyout, he did assist with the creation of the Gene Guard Act. This means that he effectively opposed the creation of this animal despite the two never living at the same time.

Isla Sorna dinosaurs

The Spinosaurus was one of a new generation of dinosaurs hatched on Isla Sorna, marking the start of a time when the island’s ecosystem became overloaded with more animals than it could handle. From that point onward, the island was incredibly hostile to life; the herbivore biomass far exceeded the amount of plant life Isla Sorna’s forty-four square miles could provide, and the number of carnivores per square mile made territory a hard commodity to access. The Spinosaurus fought tooth and claw for years to keep its territory in the central channel and nearby forest; other dinosaurs, such as the Ceratosaurus, knew to fear it.

The many large herbivores in this animal’s territory attracted carnivorous rivals. Smaller Velociraptors would be minor threats, chiefly dangerous in groups, but the huge Tyrannosaurus was a more dangerous foe. The Spinosaurus constantly defended its territory against threats like these, up to the point of finally killing one of the Tyrannosaurus. The death of this terrestrial apex predator would have had a domino effect on the rest of the ecosystem; for example, the Triceratops are prey items of the Tyrannosaurus, and its death would have removed one obstacle to their survival. They are highly efficient competitors for food, and are known to bully animals smaller than themselves to the point of death. This includes hatchlings and juveniles of other species; the now-unregulated Triceratops population would effectively reduce the survival rate of other herbivores by harassing their juveniles until they starved or died of combat injuries. The Spinosaurus did not always hunt on land, chiefly eating bonitos and other aquatic creatures in the river. Still, its large size could threaten smaller dinosaurs, such as Compsognathus which could be seen fleeing from it during a territorial conflict.

According to the junior novel Flyers, by 2002 the Spinosaurus‘s activities had contributed to the extinction of more than one species on the island. These may have included Iguanodon and Diplodocus, which never reached Isla Nublar. The Spinosaurus was relocated elsewhere on the island according to this junior novel, which was supposed to help alleviate pressure on the ecosystem; it would be relocated to Isla Nublar in 2004 or 2005 by Masrani Global Corporation, ending its role on Isla Sorna permanently.

Individuals in the 2001 incident

Two humans would arrive on Isla Sorna on May 23, 2001, though one (Ben Hildebrand) would die of his injuries shortly after crash-landing in the western forest. The survivor, a young boy named Eric Kirby, would cause the Spinosaurus intermittent frustration through his use of a Tyrannosaurus urine sample to frighten away smaller predators such as raptors. When Eric opened the flask containing the sample, the lingering smell would aggravate the Spinosaurus and cause it to vigorously search the area for the intruding tyrannosaur. This unintended psychological warfare went on for as long as a month.

The situation was escalated on July 18, when an airplane landed at the island’s airfield delivering a group of seven more humans who proceeded to make the spinosaur’s life very difficult for several days. Three of these were highly armed; mercenary Cooper became involved in a brief shootout with the animal shortly after landing. The dinosaur had been drawn to the airfield by Amanda Kirby‘s use of a megaphone to try and contact Hildebrand and her son; it responded to her artificially loud voice by roaring back at her, which provoked Cooper to shoot. It wounded him, pursuing him to the runway where it was struck a glancing blow from the airplane as it lifted off. Having now been shot at and hit with a plane, it followed the crashed aircraft into the forest to tear it apart and eat its inhabitants. It succeeded in eating pilot M. B. Nash, but the others escaped; the satellite phone on Nash’s person at the time he was swallowed ended up in the Spinosaurus‘s crop where it would ring every time a call came in. The others escaped by first running through dense forest, and then by accidentally luring a young male Tyrannosaurus into the spinosaur’s path. The spinosaur, finally having an actual tyrannosaur to confront instead of just its urine scent, let the humans escape while it dealt with the bigger threat.

The ringing phone would draw the survivors to it; initially Dr. Alan Grant and Eric had assumed that the phone was on Paul Kirby‘s person and ran to rejoin him, while Eric shouting for his father drew the other survivors (now minus booking agent Udesky) to the same location. All together, the noise they made got the attention of the Spinosaurus again, but this time its intended victims all escaped safely. This left the frustrated animal alone, having failed in its hunt and still with a noisy device irritating its digestive tract. It would finally expel the satellite phone late that night in what appears to be a bout of indigestion, as the phone was found in a dung pile undamaged. Nash’s remains were fully digested, suggesting that it finished digesting him before the phone passed from its crop through its gizzard and intestines fairly quickly to join Nash’s remains.

In the early morning of the following day, the remaining humans (now minus paleontology student Billy Brennan) directly, though unintentionally, invaded the Spinosaurus‘s home and hunting ground on a river barge. Finally having the home turf advantage, it tore apart the barge and attempted to extract the humans from the barge’s cage. It was distracted by Paul Kirby shouting from atop a crane, and while it attempted to knock him off of it, a flare shot by Dr. Grant struck it on the side and then ignited the spilled gasoline from the barge. Having been psychologically tormented for a month, shot at, hit with a plane, suckered into fighting an apex predator, given indigestion, and now having its home broken into and lit on fire, the Spinosaurus gave up and fled.

According to the junior novel Flyers, it would later encounter Dr. Grant again during a minor incident associated with its relocation to another part of Isla Sorna. In this instance, Dr. Grant was working with an organization sanctioned by the United Nations to research and care for Isla Sorna’s ecosystem. It did not appear to recognize him.

Portrayal

The Spinosaurus was portrayed using a combination of state-of-the-art animatronics and computer-generated imagery. In earlier versions of the film, its role would have been filled by a Baryonyx. Its skeleton in Jurassic World was not based on its prior film appearance, but rather on a closer approximation of what a Spinosaurus skeleton would properly look like. Interestingly, the prop was built before the 2014 announcement of new Spinosaurus findings that changed what we believe the animal looked like, yet the prop bears striking resemblance to some of the new reconstructions.

Like most of the new characters and dinosaurs introduced in Jurassic Park ///, it was not based on any particular part of Michael Crichton‘s novels and was an original creation. Its ferocious behavior and exaggerated physical strength was suggested by paleontological consultant Jack Horner, who believed it to be the most physically powerful theropod in existence and capable of causing localized extinction events. Horner’s beliefs in this respect are widely considered to be exaggerations, and the spinosaur’s skeleton in Jurassic World was altered to conform more to paleontological knowledge.