We have a special reminder concerning what is presented in the Jurassic Encyclopedia, regarding the etymology of binomial nomenclature seen here. We created the binomial and sometimes trinomial species names based on vertebrate paleontology’s approach to the classification of these animals in order to show the difference between the real animal and the animal’s appearance in the Jurassic Park/World media series. This is, in a sense, an immersive quality we created for the fans as we consider ourselves scientists of the franchise in a certain sense as we seek to be an academic approach in our cataloging of the media series. These names are not officially endorsed mind you and you are free to refer to them how you want, but for the purposes of the encyclopedia, this is how we refer to them both in the entries and in our discussions to know when we’re discussing the real animal versus their fictional representation.
It is best to remember that the animals for the film are definitely fictional representations based on a mixture of science and fiction often times that run in opposition to cold-hard (fossilized) fact and what actual vertebrate paleontology says about the subject. As such, all of our work is pulled from the particular canon that is being dealt with, as well as from the most recent and even archaic paleontological evidence whenever available, and often it will influence our decision whether a species in the series meets the criterion of being so different from the reality that a binomial (or sometimes trinomial) name is created for them. We would also like to say that inferences are indeed made when we do this based on in-canon evidence and paleontological evidence and so are drawn whenever possible if and when it is briefly seen or mentioned. Essentially, Jurassic Park/World is probably one of the best mainstream media outlets for getting people interested in dinosaurs in today’s society, and these modifications not only aid in science communication but can clearly remove the blurred line of both fiction and reality for the sake of educators and other academics who want to use the Jurassic series as a mean to bridge an interest to the fields of science represented in the franchise. This is done because without science we wouldn’t have this series that we all in fact love and enjoy or even dinosaur fiction in general!
So what, exactly, warrants changes to the dinosaur taxonomy of the Jurassic Park/World franchise? How can one reconcile with issues such as the rotated ulna and pronated hands of the theropods, or the lack of that beautiful feathery fluff on those same dinosaurs? What about the necks of the Brachiosaurus? What about the fact Brachiosaurus didn’t rear up on its hind legs as seen? or what about the behavior of any and all dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? Most of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and the resulting discrepancies with modern paleontology and viewpoints established within the past two decades (1990 to 2010 – sometimes even earlier!) can clearly be blamed on the “public consciousness and view of dinosaurs.” There is even a scene in the original novel, in the chapter ‘Version 4.4.,’ in which Henry Wu remarks that the animals need to be changed in order to conform to the public perception of dinosaurs:
“I really think you should consider my recommendations for phase two. We should go to Version 4.4”
“You want to replace all the current stock of animals?” Hammond said.
“Yes, I do.”
“Why? What’s wrong with them?”
“Nothing,” Wu said, “except that they’re real dinosaurs.”
“That’s what I asked for, Henry,” Hammond said, smiling. “And that’s what you gave me.”
“I know,” Wu said. “But you see…” He paused. How could he explain this to Hammond? Hammond hardly ever visited the island. And it was a peculiar situation that Wu was trying to convey. “Right now, as we stand here, almost no one in the world has ever seen an actual dinosaur. Nobody knows what they’re really like.” (Crichton p. 122)
The idea is that InGen would alter their dinosaurs in order to suit the public opinion of the dinosaurs if they had to, at least in the universe of the novels. What does this mean in the film universe and in other media? Does this suggest that a similar conclusion had been reached? This is certainly a possibility, as version numbers can be seen. This is discussed in-depth here regarding the canon of the films. Version numbers do explain that the dinosaurs were essentially treated as software in both the novel and the film, and were essentially undergoing constant refinement, though whether this was because of damaged or otherwise incomplete DNA sequencing or simply to match what the public thought of dinosaurs at the time is unclear. This can explain some of the anatomical differences, such as a lack of feathers, and as such, the animals seen in the film would, of course, be different from their prehistoric counterparts.
The very reason that the cloned dinosaurs are so inaccurate in the first place is attributed to the techniques utilized to extract their DNA from amber, as shown in the film, and from partial DNA extracted from fossilized bones that were suggested in the novels. As mentioned in both the novels and films, the DNA used is millions of years old, very fragile, and more often than not incomplete; Time is no friend to organic matter and places a gauntlet of odds in the way of its preservation. There are so many factors that work against fossilization that some life forms are missing from the fossil record entirely. Knowing this, InGen had to fill in the gaps in the DNA sequence with something else in order to successfully create the animals, whether it be from an avian or reptilian source. In the films, it is specifically mentioned that frog DNA was used, though dinosaurs are more closely related to birds than they are to amphibians and even to most other reptiles. Furthermore, the scientists then used DNA from other animals to “fill in the gaps” that were still missing, thus resulting in “deformities” to the animals as they were unknowingly altering their DNA. The fact of the matter is that the dinosaurs created by InGen for Jurassic Park would never be carbon copies of their Mesozoic forefathers; the traits that they had had millions of years ago, such as feathers and perhaps even some of their behavior, were lost in the cloning process. Over the years, the dinosaurs would have to change further, through natural processes, to live in a world that was never meant to support them. In a sense, some of their ancestral characteristics may no longer be needed for Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs to not only survive but flourish, in the world of the present day. In short, the dinosaurs have evolved and adapted to their new, isolated world.
The use of DNA from other animals in repairing DNA sequences may be the explanation of such anomalies as the Dilophosaurus, which bears a frill and can spit venom where no such evidence exists in the real animal; or the Pteranodons which have teeth while, ironically, their name means “wing without tooth;” and various other biological issues which are present in all forms of Jurassic Park media. As InGen’s scientists were unable to acquire pure dinosaur DNA and the codes were severely fractured, they likely used more than just amphibian DNA in order to complete their “product.” The west African frog DNA, explains the dinosaurs’ ability to change their gender in a single-sex environment and thus breed.
The simple fact is that scientists in the 1980s would have little knowledge or the technology required to clone a “perfect” dinosaur, especially when public perception and even incomplete scientific information is all that they had to work with at the time. It is best to remember that fossils found by paleontologists are fragmentary and in bits and pieces. It is very rare for a complete skeleton of large animals due to the fact there would be scavengers that would eat from the carcass or things would be lost due to the passing of time. The versions that we see and read about in the various canons of Jurassic Park & Jurassic World are the best that InGen could produce at the time, not only reinforcing the public conception of dinosaurs at the time but also with what little material they had to work with in the end.
Therefore, in order to differentiate what is seen in fiction from what is seen in science, we have created modified species names to identify the dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals of Jurassic Park from their real-world counterparts, and have also granted in-universe explanations where applicable in a particular medium. Once again this helps science communicators and us differentiate between product of fiction and the product of reality where there may be two or more species of a given genus of animal, such as the Pteranodons and Velociraptors of the film canon which have been changed persistently through the film series. Taxonomically, we are constantly working to refine this system, as always looking for when and where imperfections can be spotted and ironing those out.
(x -Genus Name-) – Hybrid
(?) – Debatable or formerly a subject of debate in regards to whether it inhabited either island or was cloned by InGen
(*) – Modified Scientific Name only for the purposes of this project.