Baryonyx (meaning “heavy claw”) is a genus of medium-to-large theropod dinosaur in the family Spinosauridae. It originally lived during the early Cretaceous period between 130 and 125 million years ago, during the Hauterivian and Barremian stages in what is now England. It was among the first piscivorous dinosaurs to be understood by paleontologists and known to the general public.
There is one recognized species of Baryonyx, called B. walkeri, which is named in honor of amateur fossil collector and plumber William J. Walker, who first discovered its remains. Walker found the remains, which initially consisted of a large claw, in January of 1983 in the Smokejacks Pit of the Weald Clay Formation near Ockley, Surrey, England. Returning to the clay pit to seek the claw’s missing tip, he also discovered a phalanx bone and part of a rib. His son-in-law brought the remains to the Natural History Museum of London, where paleontologists Alan J. Charig and Angela C. Milner inspected them. By June of that year, the entire skeleton had been uncovered.
It took nearly six years to prepare the whole skeleton, but when this was finished, it yielded a body that was 65% complete, making it an excellent subject for study. The genus was named in 1986, midway through the skeleton’s preparation, when it became clear that it was an undiscovered type of theropod dinosaur. Its name, Baryonyx, refers to the size of its claws. It was originally assumed to be a dromaeosaur like Velociraptor, the claw being assigned to its toe; later, however, the claw was realized to belong to the finger.
Since its discovery, Baryonyx remains (mostly consisting of teeth) have been found throughout the United Kingdom and the Iberian Peninsula. The species Baryonyx tenerensis has been reclassified as of 1998 into a new genus, Suchomimus, leaving Baryonyx walkeri as the sole representative of the genus. It is understood to have been piscivorous, feeding on fish, because fish scales were found in its stomach; it is also believed to have fed upon land-dwelling animals such as Iguanodon.
Between 1986 and 1993, International Genetic Technologies succeeded in cloning Baryonyx walkeri from early Cretaceous ancient DNA obtained from gravid female mosquitoes preserved in amber samples. Further genetic research has gone into Baryonyx since then.
Two distinct genetic lineages of Baryonyx have been produced by InGen. The more common version, which is presumed to be the older of the two, is defined by a wider, more flattened skull with less ornamentation, duller colors, and osteoderms on its body. The less common version generally resembles its fossil ancestor.
Baryonyx is among the larger spinosaurs, reaching lengths of 7.5 meters (25 feet) to 10 meters (33 feet) and growing to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) tall at the hips. It weighs between 1.3 and 2.1 short tons (1,179.3 to 1,905.1 kilograms), though InGen’s armored variant is likely heavier than average. The dinosaur’s most defining feature is the shape of its skull, which is highly elongated in a manner similar to crocodilians. In InGen’s older versions, the jaw tip is rounded and the skull is overall wider and flatter; the tongue is also rounded and cannot extend out of the mouth. In the newer version, the jaws are narrower and taller, more like the fossilized remains of this animal. Both versions bear crests; the older version has small ridge-like supraorbital crests, while the newer version has a small triangular sagittal crest above the eyes. The nostrils are placed farther back on the snout, and the eyes are average in size for a spinosaur with orange sclerae and round, bird-like pupils. This contrasts with Spinosaurus, which possesses slit pupils similar to those of crocodilians.
Baryonyx is depicted with slit pupils in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, but this may simply be a design error.
The snout is covered in sensory pits, which help it to detect movement in water. Older versions of Baryonyx have snouts ending in wide U-shapes, while the newer versions (much like fossil Baryonyx) have snouts which end in a spoon-shaped terminal rosette. This makes it somewhat resemble the modern gharial. These versions of Baryonyx show a dramatic S-shaped curve of the upper jaw, which is highly reduced in older genetic variants. The teeth are conical in shape and highly numerous (fossils have 76 to 78 teeth), designed to puncture the flesh of prey. These teeth vary in size, with the teeth near the front of the jaws being generally larger. This is especially pronounced in the newer genetic variants and fossil specimens. There is a rudimentary secondary palate dividing the oral and nasal cavities, similar to crocodilians; a rough, horny pad exists in the roof of the mouth.
Other hunting implements come in the form of Baryonyx‘s claws. The arms are not as thick or powerful as some other spinosaurs, but still make formidable weapons with their three-fingered hands ending in sharp hooked claws. The largest of these is the first finger, which bears a 31-centimeter (12-inch) curved claw. Its hands can be pronated, like most of InGen’s theropods, though artwork on the Jurassic World website appears to acknowledge that this is unlike the animals’ fossil ancestors. Its feet, like its hands, have three main digits; the fourth is a dewclaw, and it is a vestigial structure which no longer serves a purpose. While its legs are strong, it is not particularly speedy.
The main bulk of its body is rounded, with short, partially-overlapping cervical ribs similar to those of crocodiles. There is a short ridge down the spine. Its tail is long, constituting about one-third of its body length. The skin of Baryonyx is covered in rounded scales, with additional features varying based on version. Older versions show several rows of bony osteoderms like those of crocodilians extending from the neck to the end of the tail; newer versions lack these, and instead possess primitive protofeather quills on the skull and arms.
Coloration also varies between versions. The older version shows mainly cool, dull colors, with a blue-gray, tan, or green hue decorating the dorsal side and lighter color on the belly, arms, most of the legs, and the sides of the face. Slightly brighter blue or teal color may be present on the snout and in speckles across the body, and a darker blue or red may ring the eyes. These colors are suitable for concealing the animal in a wetland environment. The newer version shows more vibrant color on the face, with the eye orbit and surrounding skin being a bright teal color and light yellow speckles on the snout. The rest of the body is a woody light brown or sandy tan color, with darker and lighter mottling across the entire body along with light yellow spots. The tail changes to a simple light-and-dark-brown alternating pattern. There is no obvious color to the protofeather quills. The mouth of the newer version is a brighter pink, as opposed to the dull color of the older version’s mouth.
Currently, little is known about the growth patterns and ontogenic changes of Baryonyx. A juvenile can be created in the mobile game Jurassic Park: Builder which more or less resembles a smaller version of the adult, but this portrayal differs slightly from the animal’s in-film appearance.
Subadult Baryonyx, distinguishable by their smaller size, appear in the virtual reality short film Jurassic World: Blue. The subadult of the old version, with the wider jaws and duller colors, appears very similar to the fully-grown adult. Meanwhile, the skeletal remains found near the scene more closely resemble the narrow jaws of the new version and fossil animals; it lacks the prominent notch of the jaws as well as the sagittal crest, suggesting that these features develop in adulthood.
A Baryonyx can reach adulthood by the age of eight. However, they reach sexual maturity before reaching skeletal maturity, and thus can breed before reaching full size. This is presumably with the use of growth hormones; fossil evidence suggests that sexual maturity was reached between 13 and 15 years of age, with at least one subadult specimen dying between the ages of 23 and 25.
While the female of the older version has been positively identified, there is currently no reliable way to sex either version of Baryonyx.
Since Baryonyx preys on fish, it prefers to live near sources of running water such as rivers or lakes. Although it can swim in the ocean, it has not yet been confirmed living long-term in estuarine or marine environments: since the loss of clean fresh water in 2017 and 2018 was a major threat to its survival, it is unlikely that it has salt glands. Baryonyx also prefers cover in its habitat; forests may suffice, but it has been known to willingly move into confined spaces such as artificial underground tunnels to shelter.
The game Jurassic World: Evolution depicts it as requiring 7,968 square meters of grassland, 504 square meters of forest, and 2,868 square meters of wetland in its territory.
This spinosaur was originally planned for exhibition in InGen’s Jurassic Park during the late 1980s and early 1990s; however, it was never successfully introduced. Its paddock would have been located in the Eastern Ridge across the main tour road from a Dilophosaurus paddock to the west, separated from the road by a twenty-four-foot electric fence. It would have bordered a service road to the east with a similarly-sized fence, and the perimeter fences would have marked the northern and southern ends of its paddock.
Sometime between September 2004 and May 30, 2005, any surviving Baryonyx from Isla Sorna were rounded up and transported to Isla Nublar. They would have had brief stays in a quarantine paddock before being introduced to their new habitats. Sometime after Jurassic World opened, the animals were introduced to a section of the Jungle River, where they were exhibited on the Cretaceous Cruise attraction. Population statistics for Baryonyx during this period of time are currently unknown. To prevent them from mingling with other dinosaurs to disastrous effect, these predators were restricted by technology, such as invisible fences and physical concrete barriers.
During Jurassic World’s preliminary developments, Baryonyx was included on a list of “most wanted” genera by Dr. Henry Wu‘s genetics department. This suggests that, as of 2004, genetic research was ongoing regarding this species (alternatively, it may have gone extinct on Isla Sorna before any could be rescued). Sometime by 2015, a new and more genetically pure Baryonyx was cloned by InGen. The Jurassic World website uses an illustration rather than a computerized render of the animal, suggesting that none had reached adulthood by that time. At least one subadult is known to have been visible in the Baryonyx exhibit, however.
A female Baryonyx of the older version was hatched sometime between May 16, 2009 and May 15, 2010; it was still believed to be alive as of May 15, 2018 at the age of eight.
On December 22, 2015, an incident occurred which resulted in the permanent closure of Jurassic World. Along with the other de-extinct animals, Baryonyx was no longer held back by invisible fence technology, and escaped its enclosure. Since the Jungle River provided them with sufficient habitat, many remained near it; however, they also claimed the maintenance tunnels as territory, sheltering there from any above-ground hazards. So far, none of the second version are known to have survived after the incident.
One Baryonyx, an adult female later nicknamed Grim, was being held at the Sector 4 veterinary station at the time of the incident for an undisclosed health condition. Her partners (nicknamed Chaos and Limbo) came to her aid, having been tracking her from the surrounding area; Grim was released from her cage on December 24 by Camp Cretaceous attendees who had also been left behind. The three remained in the north, living primarily in the central area south of Mount Sibo. They were known to investigate buildings and other artificial structures, such as the field genetics lab. In February 2016, Grim was shot and killed by poachers; Chaos and Limbo tracked the culprit to the Northwest Dock where they swam offshore and killed the remaining poacher.
Between 2017 and 2018, the island’s volcano Mount Sibo became active. This threatened the Baryonyx population, as the Jungle River became polluted with sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide outgassing, and harmful algal blooms occurred in the river. This killed off native and introduced fish, which dinosaurs such as Baryonyx relied on for food.
The virtual reality short film Jurassic World: Blue reveals that at least one male Baryonyx was living on the island prior to 2018, as a nest with six eggs was present in a volcanically-ravaged part of northern Isla Nublar early that summer. The skeletal remains of a subadult Baryonyx were seen nearby, and one subadult was seen guarding the nest. The surviving subadult was killed before any of the eggs hatched, and none of the offspring are believed to have survived.
At least two Baryonyx lived in the area near Mount Sibo as of June 23, 2018. During the eruption which occurred on that day, a Baryonyx was forced into Radio Bunker 02-17 by lava, and died inside the bunker after being sealed in. A second was seen fleeing the eruption. This may have been the same animal captured shortly after and transported off Isla Nublar via the S.S. Arcadia, but it may be more likely that there was simply a third Baryonyx. Chaos may have been one of these individuals, either killed by the eruption or transported off-island. Limbo’s status is unknown.
The animal removed from the island was logged into the Arcadia‘s manifest at 13:40, the last cargo reported by the crew. It was cosigned by Robin Walsh, stored in Container #20-1001-2042 (Cargo #23150) and was weighed at 1,650 kilograms, making it on the heavier end of the scale for its species.
Due to volcanic activity and loss of habitat, Baryonyx has probably become extinct on Isla Nublar.
InGen originally bred Baryonyx on Isla Sorna between 1986 and 1993. Population statistics are mostly unknown; at last count in 1993, there were five living Baryonyx on Isla Sorna. They most likely inhabited the inner regions of the island, near the central channel where their food would be most plentiful.
Early versions of Jurassic Park /// show this animal living near the island’s airstrip.
Between 1998 and 1999, illegal cloning operations took place on Isla Sorna and introduced multiple new species to the island. These included a Spinosaurus, which would have competed directly with the Baryonyx for food. Its impact on their population is unknown at this time, but was probably disastrous for them.
By 2004, the island had entered a state of ecological collapse. While the Baryonyx would have avoided the worst of this due to feeding on fish as well as terrestrial animals, competition with the much larger and more aggressive Spinosaurus may have driven them closer to extinction. If any still lived as of late 2004, they would have been collected by Masrani Global Corporation and transported to Isla Nublar.
While Baryonyx is a capable swimmer, it would be very difficult for one to cross from Isla Nublar or Isla Sorna to the Central American mainland. However, human activity has brought them to North America in spite of the distance. While it is unknown if any Baryonyx were transported off-island by poachers between 1997 and 2018, an illegal retrieval operation that ended on June 23, 2018 captured Baryonyx for black-market sales. This individual was possibly Chaos, one of three Baryonyx known to inhabit that area in late 2015 and early 2016.
Ken Wheatley, under the direction of Eli Mills, captured this Baryonyx as it fled the eruption of Mount Sibo and loaded it onto the S.S. Arcadia for transport to the Lockwood estate near Orick, California. It was weighed at 1,650 kilograms (1.8 U.S. short tons) at the time it was loaded. The animal was unloaded to the estate on the evening of June 24. It was sold to a Russian buyer, probably notorious mobster Anton Orlov (who had expressed interest in purchasing carnivores) and shipped to Russia via airplane. If any other Baryonyx were captured by Wheatley, they would have been released into the Northern Californian redwoods by Maisie Lockwood to save them from hydrogen cyanide poisoning.
Behavior and Ecology
Baryonyx is diurnal, active mostly during the day. Some are known to prefer subterranean habitats, away from the normal cycle of night and day, which could cause them to adopt differing activity patterns than those which spend more time above ground. Normally Baryonyx sleep during the night, waking only if disturbed, and are seen active at all times of the day.
Diet and Feeding Behavior
This animal is a carnivore, and is among the first dinosaurs discovered to have a partially piscivorous diet. Paleontologists have discovered stomach contents including scales from the fish Scheenstia mantelli as well as bones from a juvenile Iguanodon bernissartensis. Fossil evidence suggests that it used gastroliths to assist with digestion.
The chief component of this animal’s diet is fish, which it captures live from water sources in its habitat. Baryonyx lives near rivers and lakes, though it has not yet been observed near estuaries or oceanic environments. It uses its strong jaws and conical teeth to capture prey, making rapid swishing movements with its snout to grab fish. When hunting, the snout of the Baryonyx is used to detect the movements of prey; its snout is covered in sensory pits which can help the animal discern where its prey is located and in what direction it is moving. This allows the Baryonyx to slyly ambush unsuspecting fish. Smaller prey can simply be swallowed whole, since it cannot chew; larger prey must be torn apart using the claws.
This is not a pursuit hunter, but it is very agile and capable of hunting on land as well as on riversides. It probably hunts by ambush; its claws would be able to hook into small or medium-sized animals, delivering gashing wounds. Even if ambush tactics do not work, a Baryonyx can pursue prey and try to corner it in tight spaces. These dinosaurs are adept at hopping among rocks, making them effective hunters on boulder-strewn fields and in artificial structures, and are quick to come up with new strategies to capture food. Its teeth are evolved more for holding onto slippery prey, but its quick snapping bites would also be effective on land animals.
Like other carnivorous animals, it probably scavenges carcasses when it gets the chance. Its long snout would help it probe into the remains of dead animals to select choice pieces of meat. An adult will consume over one hundred pounds of meat in a day.
This animal lives either alone or in small groups of up to three. While it does not form large packs, the bonds it has with those it does choose to live with are quite powerful, and these dinosaurs will defend one another in the face of danger. They also make efficient hunting partners, using their individual strengths to play off each other and corner evasive prey. The social structure of Baryonyx has been described as a family group, but adults with no immediate genetic relation may choose one another as family, and they do not appear to have a rigid hierarchy. Disputes are settled by snapping and growling, with actual physical violence being rare.
To reinforce their bonds, social units of Baryonyx will vocalize with one another often, recognizing each other’s voices. They will also sleep together at night, huddling in a group to conserve heat and provide comfort to one another. Baryonyx are known to become sympathetically distressed if one of their own is suffering, and if harm should come to any Baryonyx, its companions will relentlessly track down the guilty party and exact revenge.
In the game Jurassic World: Evolution, a Baryonyx will become stressed if kept in groups; it may live alone or in a pair.
All dinosaurs lay eggs. The courtship behaviors of Baryonyx are currently unknown, but may be similar to those of crocodilians. Most known theropod species use cloacae as reproductive organs. While this is not an especially social animal, the bonds they do form are extremely strong. One monogamous mated pair has been confirmed, while an unusually large social group of three was reported in late 2015 through early 2016 and has been interpreted as a family unit. This would suggest that Baryonyx can form both polygamous and monogamous mating groups, and implies the possibility of bisexual mating habits like many modern birds.
A subadult parent Baryonyx was seen in 2018 nesting near the skeletal remains of another subadult Baryonyx, which may have been its mate. The sexes of individuals involved were unknown, but it suggests that both parents protect and care for their offspring. Curiously, the skull of the deceased individual appeared very narrow, much like the skulls of the newer versions; however, it lacked the prominent notch in the jaws or the sagittal crest, which may develop only once full maturity is reached. This suggests that the two versions are genetically compatible and can produce offspring. The viability and traits of the offspring are unknown.
The eggs of Baryonyx are roughly five to seven inches long, and like those of chickens, can be white or brown in color. They are slightly ovoid in shape, an evolutionary adaptation which prevents them from rolling too far from where they are laid. The parents will build a small nest out of mud or dirt, placing the eggs closely together inside. The clawed hands would be useful in constructing such a nest. Subadult parents may lay around six eggs. Breeding appears to occur in spring or early summer in the tropics, with a nest of eggs being observed in June on Isla Nublar, and the incubation period is probably around six months. The parents rarely venture far from the nest and defend it vigorously from predators, even those that are much larger than themselves.
In the cloned specimens produced by InGen, full size is reached in eight years or less, with sexual maturity reached before skeletal maturity. Fossil evidence suggests that without the use of growth stimulators, Baryonyx would instead reach sexual maturity at thirteen to fifteen years of age, reaching skeletal maturity at twenty-three to twenty-five or later.
Many of the Baryonyx‘s vocalizations are territorial in nature, since it is not an extremely social animal. It produces loud bellows and high-pitched screeches to intimidate rivals and enemies, as well as to establish dominance in its own territory. However, there are a few instances of social groups forming, and their bonds are extremely strong. Baryonyx uses a variety of quieter growls and rumbles to communicate with its family members.
If one Baryonyx is distraught, it will emit a distress call that can carry over a not-inconsiderable distance. If its family members hear this cry, they will respond; by calling and responding to each other, the family can locate and assist the distressed individual. If the animal in distress is unable to be helped, its family will remain nearby anyway, vocalizing to provide comfort.
It also uses non-vocal communications with its own kind. Various sources, including the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Official Annual and the mobile game Jurassic World Alive, describe it splashing in water and clattering its jaws to communicate. The nature of these communications is not fully understood yet, but likely is used to share basic information about the environment and food sources, as well as displays during the mating season. Disputes between animals have been directly observed, with jaw-snapping as one non-vocal form of communication used.
Because it occupies a different ecological niche than many other larger theropods, Baryonyx is able to coexist peacefully alongside many of them. On Isla Sorna, its prey probably included bonitos, which are known to venture into the tidal rivers of the island. It would have competed for prey with the pterosaurs Pteranodon and Geosternbergia. The osteoderms of the Baryonyx would provide it with ample protection from these competitors’ attacks. By 2001, new carnivores including Spinosaurus and Ceratosaurus had moved into the island’s central waterway; these would have been more serious competition, particularly the huge fish-eater Spinosaurus. However, Ceratosaurus is known to be fairly cowardly around rival carnivores and often avoids potential enemies.
On Isla Nublar, Baryonyx was housed in its own enclosure on the Cretaceous Cruise, which also housed fellow spinosaur Suchomimus and the terrestrial hunter Metriacanthosaurus. Once the park was closed down, Baryonyx likely competed for prey with these animals. It is a moderately aggressive animal, not as fierce as Metriacanthosaurus, but managed to outlive this rival. Some Baryonyx moved into the island’s maintenance tunnels once they escaped their enclosure, helping them to avoid conflict with other carnivores. Potential territorial rivals in the north included Ceratosaurus, Carnotaurus, Teratophoneus, Allosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus; the latter is known to have attacked and killed at least one Baryonyx. While rare, Velociraptor was also a threat as it would attempt to steal eggs. It probably did not have much to fear from the delicate omnivore Gallimimus other than possibly egg theft, and the tiny carnivore Compsognathus probably did not threaten it at all.
It lived alongside numerous herbivores on Isla Nublar as well. On the Jungle River, it would have neighbored Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, Parasaurolophus, and Microceratus. Once it was released into the wild, some moved into the maintenance tunnels where they would seldom encounter herbivorous animals. Nonetheless, they sometimes came topside to hunt, particularly around the river. It is known to have lived in the area surrounding Mount Sibo, which could have had it encounter Pachycephalosaurus, Stygimoloch, Brachiosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Peloroplites, Triceratops, Pachyrhinosaurus, and Sinoceratops. While a lone Baryonyx probably could not hunt these creatures as adults, it could have preyed upon their juveniles; fossil evidence suggests baby dinosaurs constituted part of its natural diet. Those that lived in pairs or trios are known to have presented real threats to even armored dinosaurs, which might flee rather than fight if they felt outnumbered or overpowered.
In the game Jurassic World: Evolution, it is susceptible to the rabies virus (Rabies lyssavirus); this is an infection which normally only affects mammals. According to the game, genetic modification has somehow made dinosaurs susceptible to this disease. In prehistoric times, it must have been affected by blood-drinking pests such as mosquitoes, as this is how InGen obtained its DNA. It is unknown if modern mosquitoes affect Baryonyx in a similar way.
Baryonyx was the first piscivorous dinosaur discovered and is one of the best known to the general public. As one of the most famous British dinosaurs, it is a source of pride to its country of origin. Some have been found in other European countries as well and generally garner attention. This species is a common one to see in artistic reconstructions of the past; it was historically drawn as a crocodile-like creature, but in recent times its more birdlike characteristics have come to light. While not a frequent star of movies and video games, Baryonyx is at least a regular feature in dinosaur encyclopedias as a representative of its family.
This species was named for fossil collector and plumber William J. Walker.
As the best-understood piscivorous dinosaur and the first spinosaur to be positively identified by paleontologists, the Baryonyx has been planned to appear in InGen de-extinction theme parks since the late 1980s. A section of paddock was set aside for it in Jurassic Park, though it was never successfully introduced to the Park before the incident that closed it down. Had the Park opened, this dinosaur would have been seen from the main tour.
It is unknown if any Baryonyx survived on Isla Sorna until 2004, when its animals were relocated to Isla Nublar for use in Jurassic World. As of the summer of 2004, InGen’s Dr. Henry Wu was attempting to obtain more Baryonyx DNA samples, considering this among the most wanted genera for the new park. In any case, Baryonyx was successfully integrated into Jurassic World’s Cretaceous Cruise on the Jungle River, where it became a star attraction drawing in countless visitors. Eventually, a more genetically pure second version was engineered; there is only evidence of one being created, but it is likely more were at least planned.
This dinosaur is aggressive and probably demanding in captivity. It requires large amounts of meat, but fortunately can be satisfied with fish. Still, eating around a hundred pounds of food a day makes it expensive; a large aquaculture program may be necessary to keep it fed. It will need wetland environments, the kind it would have lived in during the Cretaceous period, which must be continuously monitored for security to prevent escapes. Furthermore, health issues need to be dealt with efficiently. Any distress in one Baryonyx will rapidly cause the others to become sympathetically distressed, leading to the population becoming unruly until the issue is resolved. Jurassic World paleoveterinarians would relocate sick Baryonyx fairly far away from their habitat, ensuring their distress calls could not be easily heard by the rest.
Jurassic World appears to have been successful at keeping Baryonyx satisfied in territories that neighbored various other dinosaurs, including other aggressive theropods. This may have been possible only because of the subdermal tracking implants all of the animals were equipped with, which would shock them if they ventured outside their designated zones. Since it will readily feed on other dinosaurs, it is not recommended to keep Baryonyx in multi-species enclosures without the use of such technology.
This dinosaur can recognize and remember specific individual human faces, much like modern corvids and other birds and reptiles. Its aggressive and territorial nature means that it is unlikely to form friendly bonds with humans, though: it is much more likely to remember a human that has wronged it or its family members, and can hold a grudge. Even attempts to help a suffering Baryonyx can lead to a negative association as the animal connects the would-be helper to feelings of distress.
With a rich history in paleontological science, Baryonyx has made a fantastic amount of contributions to our knowledge of the past, including the ecology of Cretaceous England and the evolution of spinosaurs. This species was the first to reveal that some dinosaurs were at least partly piscivorous, similar to modern crocodilians and some shorebirds. While many spinosaurs have been identified since, Baryonyx is still the best known to the public. Because of this, it is often used for educational purposes to demonstrate just how diverse theropod dinosaurs are.
Fossil evidence has revealed much about Baryonyx‘s diet, showing that it preyed on both aquatic and terrestrial life. Remains found in their stomachs have included fish scales and juvenile dinosaur bones. Since its de-extinction, further information has been uncovered about how this dinosaur lived. Unfortunately, the de-extinction process involves genetic modification due to the loss of ancient DNA over time, meaning InGen’s animals never resemble their ancestors precisely. While Baryonyx had been cloned as of 1993, it was as of 2004 on a list of high-priority species wanted for creation. Eventually, Dr. Henry Wu succeeded in creating a new and more genetically genuine variant of Baryonyx, the first dinosaur to have this process undertaken. This certainly suggests that the entire available Baryonyx genome has been sequenced, a feat that until recently was only possible for species logged into InGen’s genetic database.
As a part of the 1994 cleanup process, a fluid specimen was obtained from a Baryonyx on Isla Sorna on May 22. Any information about InGen’s research at that time is confidential.
Baryonyx also assisted with genetic research in Jurassic World in other ways. Its genome was utilized by Dr. Henry Wu‘s team to artificially evolve its close relative, Suchomimus. InGen had previously sourced the DNA of Suchomimus from North African amber, but this proved that genetic engineering could open up new routes for de-extinction and even species genesis.
De-extinction has always been a controversial practice, and the cloning of formerly extinct predators is considered particularly so. Until recently, this dinosaur lived in isolated areas where humans would seldom encounter it, so its existence was mostly protected. During the 2015-16 incident in Jurassic World, though, the Baryonyx were allowed to roam Isla Nublar free of human intervention, and their fate has been up in the air ever since.
In late 2015 and early 2016, three Baryonyx came into conflict with humans on Isla Nublar. Six youths who had been on the island for Camp Cretaceous were declared missing, presumed dead during the incident and left behind; similarly, a female Baryonyx which had been undergoing medical treatment at a veterinary station was not released from its holding cage before the evacuation. The campers debated whether to save the carnivore, despite knowing they could be putting themselves in danger. Ultimately they chose not to let the dinosaur starve to death and freed it.
In the following months, poachers illegally landed on Isla Nublar on a trophy hunting expedition, taking advantage of the political chaos surrounding the island. During their expedition, a hunter named Tiffany shot and killed the Baryonyx which the campers had previously freed. Its companions, a pair of two other Baryonyx, hunted down and killed the guilty party. The surviving Baryonyx were later implicated in the killing of a mercenary in June 2016.
A year later, in early 2017, geological activity beneath the island caused the long-dormant Mount Sibo to stir. Within months, it was active again, with signs of a catastrophic eruption. Political debates surrounded the island, with many people suggesting that predators such as Baryonyx be allowed to die (some suggested rescuing only herbivorous animals, under the incorrect assumption that herbivores are peaceful). Masrani Global Corporation failed to act, and the U.S. Congress voted to do nothing. This was all despite lobbying from activists, primarily the Dinosaur Protection Group, which sometimes used images of Baryonyx to sway the public’s opinion. They were opposed by groups such as Extinction Now!, which aruged that because de-extinct life was created unnaturally, it not only had no rights but was an insult to nature.
An illegal operation removed at least one Baryonyx from Isla Nublar on June 23, 2018, but rather than relocate it to the privately-owned Sanctuary Island it was smuggled to Orick, California and sold on the black market. It is currently believed to be in the possession of Russian mobster Anton Orlov. The animal’s condition is unknown; Orlov is suspected to have purchased it to force a fight with another theropod. If he succeeded, the Baryonyx may have been killed through the kind of animal cruelty the DPG was advocating against. The issue of whether animal rights extend to those created in laboratory conditions is ongoing and contentious.
This dinosaur has proved to be a crowd-pleaser, drawing many tourists to the Cretaceous Cruise to watch it in its natural habitat. Precautions need to be taken, of course, since it is an aggressive carnivore and defensive of its family unit. It is perhaps only suited to well-funded parks such as Jurassic World, which was supported chiefly through InGen’s holding company Masrani Global Corporation.
It is scientifically valuable, as the first spinosaur entered into InGen’s genetic library and one of the few to be made more complete in a second genetic iteration. InGen utilized it for groundbreaking genetic research which had the potential to revolutionize de-extinction, though sadly with the closure of Jurassic World these studies ended. Baryonyx has its own biochemical properties which can yield new biopharmaceuticals; the differing genetic versions probably can be used as sources of unique compounds each.
A Baryonyx was captured by mercenaries led by Ken Wheatley at the behest of Eli Mills for this reason. It was among the very last dinosaurs captured and loaded onto the S.S. Arcadia, and was transported to the Lockwood estate near Orick, California by the following evening. This Baryonyx was sold to Bidder 178 after sixteen bids for U.S. $21,000,000 along with a case of de-extinct animal DNA samples. The money would have funded Henry Wu‘s continued research had the auction not been disrupted by animal rights activists. Both were shipped out of the United States on board a Russian airplane, suggesting that the buyer was notorious mobster Anton Orlov. Previously, Orlov had expressed interest in purchasing two carnivorous dinosaurs to pit against one another in a death match, selling exorbitantly-priced tickets to spectators. However, there is no evidence that he was able to purchase any other animals, so it is unknown what he has done with his Baryonyx, which presumably still resides in Russia.
Defending against a Baryonyx is much like defending against a crocodile or alligator, but with additional precautions to be taken. These should account for the dinosaur’s terrestrial capabilities, which far exceed those of crocodilians. It is faster on land, and has greater endurance, both of which are thanks to its warm-blooded physiology. This means that it is just as dangerous at night as it is during the day, since its body maintains a constant temperature and does not need the sun to warm up for energy.
This is a semi-aquatic dinosaur, as are most spinosaurs, so avoiding deep wetlands will help keep away from it. If you live near rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water, take whatever security measures are necessary to keep wild animals off your property. Do not leave food outside if you live in these kinds of areas, especially meats that would attract carnivores. If they begin to associate your home with food, an aggressive interaction becomes much more likely. Monitor the area for signs of Baryonyx activity and report them to experts.
If you encounter one in the wild, stay as far away from it as you can, and slowly back away while keeping it in sight. If you make sudden movements it might chase you. Try to present a calm expression, as though you are not afraid, as to avoid provoking it. These dinosaurs can be reactive and respond to aggravating situations with violence. If they sense a source of distress, they will eliminate it by any means they can, which is invariably lethal if that threat is you. Get into sturdy shelter as soon as you can, and avoid vulnerable spots such as windows. Like all spinosaurs it has a narrow snout and can probe into tight spaces to extract its target. It is large enough to ram and overturn small to medium vehicles, and it is faster than it looks. If the ground is uneven, outrunning it in a vehicle becomes futile; it is agile and capable of navigating obstacles very easily. Taking shelter is your best option.
Facing it physically in a fight is no easy task. It is larger than you by far, and much stronger, not to mention it has numerous weapons it can use against you. The teeth are an obvious threat, as they are designed to hold even slippery prey and prevent escape, but its claws are also worth note. These are its main fishing implements, built like meat hooks for capturing aquatic prey items. They work just as well out of the water and can deliver fatal blows. If it attacks, use any object within reach to put between it and you. Get it to strike your makeshift shield rather than your body. Anything that might slow it down is worth using; try something that might get stuck in its teeth, distracting it temporarily. More dramatic defense techniques, such as electric shocks or explosives, have worked in the past to hold them off, but these may not be accessible to you in an emergency. Instead your main goal should be to get to shelter where it cannot follow, and wait until it leaves.
Like defending against crocodilians, it may be possible to get it to drop you if it bites. If one of your limbs is in its mouth, strike repeatedly at the back of the throat. In crocodilians, there is a flap which keeps water from getting in the throat while it holds prey. To avoid drowning, the crocodilian will release you if this flap is hit, and it may do so instinctively even if it is not in the water. This has not been tested with Baryonyx, but since it does hunt in the water, it stands to reason that it has a way to keep water out of its throat which you can take advantage of. Besides, if your arm is in its mouth already, you probably have few options left. If you cannot reach the back of its throat, try jabbing it in the eyes or nostrils, since these are also weak points. Get it to drop you by being inconvenient to eat, and then flee. Hopefully it will be discouraged and hunt something that does not put up as much of a fight.
Though you should take every means to defend yourself, you should not under any circumstances provoke a Baryonyx that is not currently being aggressive. They are intelligent for dinosaurs, and have the capacity to remember specific human faces. Baryonyx will remember people who wronged them and will react with heightened aggression if they see these enemies in the future.
Behind the Scenes
They are listed on the JP Brochure Map found in the Ford Explorer tour vehicles and on lab equipment on Isla Sorna. Baryonyx was originally slated to be the main star of Jurassic Park ///, but was eventually replaced with a larger, related species: Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.
The idea of using Baryonyx as the main antagonist is referenced in the film itself, with character Billy Brennan guessing that the animal which they encountered was a Suchomimus or Baryonyx before being corrected by Alan Grant. Its presence in the film canon has been known since 1993, with the animal’s icon appearing on merchandise and film production material. It would not be revealed until 2015, when artwork depicting it was featured on the Jurassic World official website; however, three years later when it actually appeared in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, artists involved with the film chose to redesign the animal to bring it in line with the chosen franchise aesthetic. This is to say that it was given a 1980s-style outdated design, which drew complaints from scientific audiences, particularly as a very up-to-date design had been provided by paleoartists years before and was accepted.
Director Colin Trevorrow has suggested that the website design is paleoart in-universe, used instead of an image of the animals from the actual park for no explained reason. However, an image shared by Jurassic World social media depicts a Baryonyx that resembles the website art in the park itself, indicating that at least one individual that resembles this design existed in canon.
Auctioned Baryonyx – individual sold to a Russian buyer on the black market in 2018
Baryonyx – Isla Nublar – individual which inhabited maintenance tunnels; deceased in 2018
Grim – individual bred for Jurassic World; deceased in 2016
Chaos – individual bred for Jurassic World
Limbo – individual bred for Jurassic World