Dr. Sarah Harding is an American zoologist and paleobiologist specializing in the behavior of carnivorous animals (both extinct and extant). She is best known for her work in the field of behavioral paleontology, a subset of animal behavior studies which uses paleontological evidence to theorize how extinct animals behaved. Dr. Harding is also known for her involvement in the 1997 San Diego incident, which caused de-extinction to be revealed to the public as scientific fact.
The given name Sarah is one of the most common female names and has origins deeply rooted within the Abrahamic faiths, with Sarah being the name of Abraham’s wife. This means that the name has been passed down through Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures, making it very widespread. In Arabic, it translates to “joy,” while in Hebrew it translates to “woman of high rank.” Many sources simplify its Hebrew meaning to “princess,” though in Modern Hebrew it is the female form of the word “minister” instead. This name and its variants (with Sara being the most common alternate spelling) have been continuously popular throughout the Middle East and Europe, with North America also seeing a great many Sarahs following European colonization. It is especially popular in Ireland.
The surname Harding is believed to originate from Old English or Old French, with the latter giving the word hearding as a possible predecessor to Harding. It means “hard,” referring to arduous or difficult work, and the people who perform such work. The Anglo-Saxon Heardingas and Old Norse Haddingjar may be ancient variants. Its modern form was first documented in early-eleventh-century Bristol. From here, the family name moved from England to Ireland, and it spread along with the empires of northern Europe around the world.
Both Dr. Harding’s first and last names are very popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, suggesting that she has a strong family history in the British Isles.
Sarah Harding was born on June 29, 1965 to Dr. Gerry Harding and his first wife. Her place of birth is unknown at this time, but may have been somewhere on the American West Coast, as her father was known for working at the San Diego Zoo. According to files kept on Harding by John Hammond between 1995 and 1997, her social security number is 572-98-7842.
Her father was a veterinarian, specializing in large exotic animals, and this enabled the young Sarah Harding to encounter wildlife in captivity from an early age. She first encountered dangerous predators at the age of eight, in 1973. Her home life was far less stable than the simple ways of the animals she loved. Sometime between her birth and the late 1970s, her parents divorced. Her father would remarry and have a second child, another daughter named Jessica; her mother’s later life is undisclosed. Over time, she became estranged from her father.
Harding attended New York State University for her undergraduate degree, graduating in the spring of 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science. At this point she was twenty years old, a month away from twenty-one. Two years later, she obtained a second bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology, also from NYSU. From here, she attended Johns Hopkins University for her graduate studies; she completed these two years after her second bachelor’s degree, obtaining a master’s degree in paleontology. She began her Ph.D. program that autumn, at the age of twenty-five.
Harding had lost touch with her father in the early 1990s, and did not speak to him for about a year after mid-1992. It is likely that he reached out to her again after this, as Dr. Harding’s half-sister Jess had urged him to do so. His former employer, International Genetic Technologies, was affected by an outlandish conspiracy theory after the summer of 1993 when he left the company. Rumors abounded that InGen scientists had managed to secure ancient DNA from the Mesozoic era and clone dinosaurs, populating an island near Costa Rica with them for a theme park and zoo. The conspiracy theory was that something had gone horribly wrong on the island and that it had been abandoned, probably destroyed. Gerry Harding had worked as a veterinarian for InGen in Costa Rica, but did not disclose the nature of his work to Sarah. Instead, she learned that a supposed survivor of the incident, the famed mathematician and lecturer Dr. Ian Malcolm, was recuperating in a Costa Rican hospital from mysterious injuries.
She flew to Costa Rica and traveled to the hospital in San José, visiting Dr. Malcolm to press him for the truth. He was all too willing to comply, giving her details about what he claimed to have happened: the rumors of de-extinction were true, and he had been invited to the island by InGen’s CEO John Hammond to inspect the park—called Jurassic Park—and give it his seal of approval. During the tour, the power to the Park had been cut and a Tyrannosaurus rex escaped captivity, which was the source of Dr. Malcolm’s wounded leg. Other animals had escaped and killed Park staff; it was only the actions of the other members of the endorsement group which had alerted InGen to the dire situation and brought rescue. He and the other survivors had signed nondisclosure agreements, legally binding them to silence.
After hearing Dr. Malcolm’s testimony, Harding believed him. The facts added up: InGen had indeed leased several Pacific Costa Rican islands from the government in the 1980s, and during that time her father (who specialized in large animals) had been hired as a veterinarian for a project in Costa Rica he was unwilling or unable to inform her about. Malcolm’s injury, too, was evidence; he had sustained it at the same place her father worked, and all of this happened immediately before her father left his job at InGen. Even more than the proof, Harding may have been inclined to believe Dr. Malcolm because of the implications: if dinosaurs had indeed been brought back to life through genetic science and cloning, they could be studied in the flesh.
She spent much of her time in graduate studies around carnivorous animals, since these had always been her main source of fascination. Studying predators, she observed that despite their fierce reputations they were loving and devoted parents. Based on her findings, she began to doubt the hypotheses about the parental care provided by prehistoric animals. Some paleontologists such as Dr. Robert Burke suggested that dinosaurs (particularly predatory theropods like Tyrannosaurus rex) provided no parental care to their offspring, comparable to modern reptiles such as snakes. Harding, observing that carnivores are often intelligent, disagreed. She began to hypothesize instead that theropods were good parents, more comparable to modern archosaurs such as crocodiles and birds. It was just then becoming widely accepted among scientists that birds were the last of the theropods, having evolved from small dinosaurs and survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction. She completed her Ph.D. in the spring of 1994, now officially a doctor of paleontology. Dr. Harding left Johns Hopkins as a well-rounded scientist, twenty-nine years old and confident in her abilities. Her most constant companion was an old backpack, which she considered lucky after all the travels it had gone through with her.
Tales of de-extinction
She had now begun a romantic relationship with the older Dr. Malcolm, having developed feelings for him during their time discussing the InGen incident at the hospital. Malcolm, too, fell for Dr. Harding as she was one of very few people who believed his tale; he first admitted he loved her under the influence of morphine at the hospital, but later claimed he was talking to his Costa Rican nurse. Their relationship was not always harmonious (notably, Dr. Malcolm failed to show up to a dinner date and left Dr. Harding alone with his parents), but they remained together nonetheless.
Malcolm tried to convince the public of his story in 1995, speaking in a television interview about what he had experienced, but this was an ill-fated move for Dr. Malcolm: he was ridiculed by the public, and InGen made things much worse. Hammond provided him with no support, and InGen’s Chairman Peter Ludlow actively participated in a smear campaign against Malcolm by suggesting to major newspapers that he had accepted bribes to spread baseless conspiracy theories about InGen. This caused Malcolm to lose his tenure, forcing him to accept temporary traveling lecture jobs across the country. During this difficult time, the only people who supported him were Dr. Harding and his own family, including his young daughter Kelly.
Harding often babysat Kelly while Dr. Malcolm was away, and she became close, acting as a maternal figure. Kelly’s mother had become estranged and had moved out of the country, much in the way that Dr. Harding’s father had become distant from her once. Of course, Dr. Harding was often away doing fieldwork, so she could not always be there for Kelly. As of late 1996 and early 1997 Harding was in Africa studying lions and hyenas, going on thirty-two at this point. Her mailing address, according to files kept by John Hammond, was 31201 West 33rd Street, Apartment #301 in New York City. These files also give her phone number as (212)555-3456, her fax number as (212)555-3457, and her height and weight (5’4″ and 105 pounds, respectively). Hammond’s phone and fax numbers for Drs. Harding and Malcolm were the same, though they had different mailing addresses.
Sarah Harding would get an unexpected invitation in 1997. She had been unaware of Hammond’s keeping tabs on herself, Malcolm, and other persons of interest, but was formally invited to his residence in New York City after being contacted at her field research station on the African savanna. Hammond had been impressed with her globally-known performance in the field as well as her groundbreaking theories on carnivore parenting and nurturing behaviors, and had a job offer for her.
Firstly, she learned that despite InGen engineering the dinosaurs to be dependent on lysine, they had evidence that some of the animals had survived and were in fact still living now. He had experienced a drastic change of heart after the failure of Jurassic Park, in which his two grandchildren had nearly lost their lives, and wanted to keep the remaining dinosaurs isolated for their own protection as well as that of people. The animals were still a mystery to InGen scientists, having only been cloned a little over ten years ago and with many of their genetically-engineered biological traits making them hard to predict. It would only be possible to provide for their needs if they could be studied, and Hammond wanted Dr. Harding as his field scientist. Her experience with predatory animals would aid her in keeping safe in the wild, and her background in paleontology gave her a head start in understanding the dinosaurs. She eagerly accepted the job, and was informed that she would be joined by three other team members: video documentarian Nick Van Owen, equipment engineer Eddie Carr, and finally Dr. Malcolm. She was introduced to Van Owen and Carr through Hammond, but she did not inform Malcolm about her decision to take the job, knowing he would try and discourage her. No one, not even Hammond, told Malcolm about the operation, choosing to keep him in the dark until it was time to depart. Harding doubted that Malcolm would accept Hammond’s invitation.
Equipped with her lucky pack, carrying a satellite phone and Nikon PRONEA, she landed on the island of Isla Sorna roughly 207 miles west of Costa Rica on May 22, 1997. The largest and centermost of the Muertes Archipelago, this was one of the islands InGen had leased from the government, but it had never been intended for a park. Malcolm had visited Isla Nublar, a wholly different island; this one had been used by InGen for research and development, and Malcolm had not been aware of its existence. The dinosaurs had been turned loose into the wild when Hurricane Clarissa struck, the assumption being that they would eventually die out, but as Hammond had informed her, this did not come to pass. Among her objectives was to investigate why the dinosaurs were still living.
She finally had a chance to combine her paleontological and zoological knowledge in practice. In the field, she observed the herbivorous dinosaurs feeding on lysine-rich plants such as soy and agama beans, which allowed them to circumvent the deficiency InGen had engineered into their biology. Harding hypothesized that the carnivores obtained lysine by feeding on the herbivores. During her five days on the island alone, she discovered a family group of Stegosaurus and observed a few nesting sites. At each site, she found eggshells that had been crushed underfoot, indicating that animals stayed at the site for a period of time after the eggs had hatched. This supported her theories that dinosaurs did demonstrate parental care. She began following the Stegosaurus family, hoping to get a close look at a juvenile.
On her sixth day of following the family, she encountered the other members of Hammond’s team, called the “Gatherers,” which to her surprise included Malcolm. They had been calling her name, having failed to reach her on the satellite phone as it had been turned off, so she probably overheard them and found the group that way. Malcolm was concerned for her safety, having found her lucky pack where she had left it near the stream bed, but she insisted she was unharmed. While leading them along the stream, she explained to Malcolm how the animals were surviving; he was unimpressed and merely wanted her to leave the island. She ignored his insistence, continuing to follow the stegosaurs.
Finally, she got a chance to observe the juvenile up close. She even pet the animal, despite her mission being to leave the ecosystem undisturbed. While photographing the young dinosaur, her camera’s noises startled it, and the adults came to its defense: Harding attempted to escape but was cut off by the adults and forced to hide in a hollow log. The juvenile’s father attacked, narrowly missing Harding with his thagomizer, and the herd left the area as they had lost sight of the perceived threat. Malcolm was further convinced that Harding needed to leave the island after witnessing her in danger.
They trekked back to the Gatherers’ campsite near the northeastern cliffs, Harding and Malcolm continuing to argue about the mission. Along the way back, a fire was spotted at the campsite, which turned out to have been lit by an unexpected stowaway: Malcolm’s daughter Kelly, who had wanted to cook for the group. Now, Malcolm was determined to terminate the mission, bringing both his girlfriend and daughter to safety; Harding was flattered that Malcolm was rushing to her rescue but firmly stated that she would finish her research before leaving. Their discussion was interrupted by the arrival of a fleet of InGen vehicles to the island; Harding and Carr were confused as to why Hammond had sent a second larger team, but the truth was conveyed to her by the others. Malcolm and Van Owen knew that Hammond had been fired last winter and replaced as CEO by the former Chairman Ludlow, and among the Gatherers only Van Owen had been told about Ludlow’s scheme by Hammond. It was Ludlow’s plan to take a team of InGen personnel and outside experts to the island, collecting dinosaurs in order to save InGen from financial ruin.
Harding and the others watched from a vantage point as Ludlow’s Harvester team rounded up animals at a game trail and transported them to their camp in the woods. Among the Harvesters were Dr. Harding’s rival Dr. Burke. The urgency behind Hammond’s mission was now evident; her field research coupled with Van Owen’s photographic documentation was meant to sway public opinion in favor of keeping the dinosaurs wild and untouched. The plan had been for the Gatherers to return to the United States and release the footage before Ludlow’s operation was underway, but Ludlow was ahead of schedule. Hammond had a countermeasure in case this happened: Van Owen had a history in environmental activism, including the radical group Earth First! and was tasked with sabotaging Ludlow. The dinosaurs were intended for the mainland, to reopen Jurassic Park’s original location in San Diego. Their task was now to prevent this.
Van Owen and Harding cooperated, scouting out the Harvester camp. Most of the dinosaurs were kept in cages behind the main tent, not far from the vehicles that had transported them. Ludlow was having a teleconference with InGen’s Board of Directors, updating them on the team’s progress; all of the Harvesters were in attendance. The cages were basically unguarded, since the Harvesters had no reason to believe anyone would be sneaking about. Harding and Van Owen cut the fuel lines to the vehicles and opened the cages, quickly evacuating as an aggravated bull Triceratops attacked the campsite upon release. The dinosaur knocked over the disabled vehicles, igniting the spilled fuel and lighting the camp on fire. The chaos caused other released dinosaurs to panic, and amidst all this, Van Owen and Harding escaped by separate routes.
Harding waited for Van Owen to rejoin her, and when he did, he was not alone: he had rescued an injured baby Tyrannosaurus from the campsite. It had been tied down near a hunting blind, with its distress calls probably being a means to lure in the adults so Ludlow’s hunters could make a trophy kill. Harding was extremely apprehensive about taking in this animal, believing that its parents would be searching for it, but could not in good conscience leave the injured creature; in such a state, it would never survive.
She and Van Owen brought the infant to the Gatherers’ camp, where they turned the mobile laboratory into a makeshift veterinary clinic. Malcolm was horrified, and Kelly noted that other animals would hear the infant’s distress calls. She and her father left the RV, taking shelter in an observation lift that Carr was installing in the trees some distance away. Harding had previously gone over plans for this lift, called the High Hide, ensuring that its appearance and smell were disguised using native ferns. Van Owen and Harding inspected the dinosaur after securing its jaws with a belt. She x-rayed the broken leg, finding the fracture in the right fibula above the epiphysis. She calmed the tyrannosaur using morphine, but not knowing its metabolism, she was concerned about an overdose and so did not administer any more. The phone in the trailer rang during the operation, but as she needed Van Owen to apply pressure while she tended to the fibula fracture, neither of them could answer it. With the leg set, Dr. Harding finished bandaging it by using a piece of chewing gum from Van Owen’s mouth as makeshift adhesive, since she had not had enough; the way she bandaged the leg would allow the gauze to fall off some time later, once the fibula was healed. She had Van Owen prepare a syringe of amoxicillin to prevent the wound from becoming infected.
Malcolm suddenly joined them, warning that he and the others had heard an adult tyrannosaur approaching through the forest toward the juvenile’s distress cries. It was now too late to move out of the way; they witnessed one of their vehicles thrown over the cliffs and destroyed. They were joined by not only the mother, but the father: despite the terror of their situation, Dr. Harding realized that the adults were not hunting, but searching. They knew the infant was inside the vehicle and had come to protect their offspring. With the two men helping her, Harding carefully brought the infant outside, facing the father in the open. She placed the juvenile on the ground and retreated back into the trailer. Now reunited, the family moved into the forest.
During a brief moment of peace, Dr. Harding could finally feel the thrill of having her theories supported. Not only did the tyrannosaurs exhibit strong parental behavior (flatly contradicting the more conservative theories of Dr. Burke), but these behaviors were shown by a bonded monogamous pair. Both the mother and father worked together to care for their offspring. Before she could celebrate this validation much, Malcolm suddenly warned of an impending attack, and the tyrannosaurs rammed the trailers, pushing them until the rear trailer containing the Gatherers was left dangling over the cliffs. Now satisfied that they had eliminated the threat, the tyrannosaurs left once more.
Harding was hanging onto the refrigerator door handle when the trailer was pushed over, and under her weight the door opened. She was unable to keep holding on and lost her grip, falling a dozen feet down and landing hard on the safety glass window at the rear of the trailer. Below her, the cliff dropped several hundred feet down to the sea, with jagged volcanic rock along the cliffs’ base. Above, the trailer was kept from falling only by the connector to the fore vehicle. She was forced to face her intense fear of heights, staring directly down at the ocean far below, unable to quickly move away as any sudden movements might break the glass. Already it was spiderwebbing under her weight as she tried to move herself to safety.
Malcolm descended to help her, but it was unsafe for her to lift a hand off the glass since this would put too much weight on her other hand. Instead, he managed to grab her lucky pack and put its strap within her reach, and not a moment too soon: he had been racing gravity as the suspended satellite phone slipped closer to the edge of the lamp upon which it was hanging. It fell and broke the glass upon impact, but Dr. Harding maintained her grip on her lucky pack and was able to climb onto the intact frame of the trailer window.
Before long, they were thankfully joined by Carr; he had witnessed the attack on the trailers and had left Kelly in the safety of the High Hide to come assist. He was able to throw them a rope, and they attempted to climb out. Heavy rainfall made the rope slick and difficult to climb, and they nearly fell when it went slack; meanwhile the trailer was beginning to slide off the cliff as the ground above turned muddy in the rainstorm. The rope held strong, though, and by tucking in as the trailers fell, all three of them managed to avoid being struck by anything. As the trailers fell, so did Carr’s vehicle, the canopy torn open from what was clearly an animal attack. When they reached the top, they were aided by Ludlow’s Harvesters, who had discovered evidence of sabotage and tracked down the Gatherers. They had rescued Kelly, and were able to confirm that Carr had been killed by the adult tyrannosaurs when the noise of his vehicle drew them back to camp.
At the destroyed Harvester campsite, Harding learned that the sabotage she and Van Owen had committed resulted in the total destruction of InGen’s satellite equipment, and since the Gatherers’ radio and phone had gone over the cliffs, it was now impossible to communicate with InGen’s Harvest Base on the S.S. Venture stationed offshore and order the airlift out. Not only this, remaining in place would not do either: Harding reasoned that the tyrannosaurs had incorporated the campsites into their territory when the juvenile was taken there. On this, Dr. Burke agreed, suggesting that this was why the adults had been so persistent in demolishing the trailers. If they lingered here, they risked another confrontation; the tyrannosaurs’ impeccable sense of smell would make it impossible to hide. Ludlow believed their best bet for escape was the abandoned Workers’ Village, located in the center of the island where geothermal power was most efficient. They would be able to restart the generator, since the island’s latent volcanic heart would still provide them with electricity, and call for help. The only problem was that the village lay in the middle of an area claimed by the Velociraptors. However, as it was their best chance at getting off Isla Sorna, the Harvesters’ lead hunter Roland Tembo instructed them to begin the trek immediately before the tyrannosaurs became hungry or territorial again.
They traveled southwest across the island, distant roars signifying that the tyrannosaurs were somewhere behind. As they moved through a redwood forest, Roland Tembo noticed blood left on fern leaves that Harding had brushed through; he called for a rest stop, ensuring that Dr. Harding was not injured. She explained that the blood was from the baby tyrannosaur; it had gotten on her jacket during the operation and was not drying in the humidity. Tembo was reassured that she was safe, and she took a moment alongside Van Owen to regain her strength. They had been walking nonstop through rain and heat for over twelve hours and were exhausted.
During the rest stop, a man went missing. This harmed morale among the Harvesters, and their trek resumed with gloomy undertones. Tembo took two of the hunters to look for the missing man, instructing Harding that no one should tell Kelly about the incident. The group moved south toward a ridge near the village, waiting for Tembo and the others to catch up. There they set up camp for the night; the Harvesters gave their only remaining tent to Dr. Harding and Kelly. She was awoken partway through the night by a familiar noise: the sound of an approaching tyrannosaur. Now better rested, she was able to realize her blunder: the blood on her jacket would smell like the juvenile, misleading the adults into leaving their nest and tracking the humans instead. Now, she tried to hide any source of smell to discourage the animals from investigating, but it was too late; the male pushed his way into the tent, waking Kelly. Harding tried her best to keep Kelly from panicking, but a hunter outside screamed, and the male attacked the camp. As he lifted his head, the tent was dislodged, forcing Dr. Harding and Kelly into the open. The female tyrannosaur soon emerged from the forest, giving chase as a group of hunters fled.
Harding, Van Owen, and Kelly joined in with the fleeing hunters, who scrambled down a narrow clearing toward the higher cliffs around the island interior. Along the way Kelly stumbled and fell as they crossed a pond, and the three of them took shelter behind a waterfall as the tyrannosaur turned its sights on them. Burke followed, hiding with them in a small cave just barely deep enough to keep them out of reach. Unfortunately, Burke suddenly panicked when he discovered a milk snake in his shirt collar, and flailed away from the cave wall; despite Dr. Harding’s efforts to calm him down or pull him back, the tyrannosaur caught hold of him and killed him. While it was eating Burke, Malcolm slipped past it and rejoined the others.
They made their way toward the village, spotting a route through a large field of elephant grass used by the other hunters before them. As they crossed, they discovered a backpack that had belonged to Ajay Sidhu, one of the hunters, and heard the sounds of screaming and gunfire. Animal growling could be heard nearby, and they realized that they had entered the raptors‘ territory. The four of them scrambled across the field and over the edge of the ridge near the village; Malcolm’s bad leg was injured in the fall and he had to rest. Harding and Kelly remained with him to keep him safe while Van Owen progressed into the village to make the radio call to InGen’s Harvest Base.
After a few minutes, Malcolm felt well enough to walk, and they followed Van Owen into the village. Upon entering, they were ambushed by three Velociraptors, two males and a female. The first to attack targeted Dr. Harding, and she was saved a final time by her lucky pack. She was now forced to abandon it in order to escape, the raptor attacking the pack as she slipped away. Malcolm distracted the raptor as Harding and Kelly took shelter in the kiln house from the other two, which attempted to pound down the door. When this did not work, they began digging underneath, as the floors were simply dirt; Harding led Kelly in digging under the opposite wall. Although they excavated a large enough gap to escape, they were ambushed by the other male raptor, which had circled around to corner them. They clambered into the rafters as Malcolm unsuspectingly entered the building, barely evading the male raptor. It followed them into the rafters, but was struck by Kelly, causing it to fall out a window. Malcolm and Kelly escaped out the ground floor door as the other raptors entered the building through the excavated hole in the rear, while Harding climbed out a window and leapt across the gap to the barracks roof.
She was soon accompanied by both remaining raptors, the female following her route and leaping to the barracks while the male assumed a position on the second-floor roof below. Harding realized that the ceramic tiles were loose, and by pulling the lower ones free she caused several rows to slide off the roof; this destabilized the female’s footing, and the raptors fell on top of one another. As their squabble turned into an all-out fight, Harding dropped from the roof, rolled into the barracks, and careened off a lighting fixture to fall out the second-floor window. From here she was aided by Malcolm and Kelly to her feet, and as a helicopter had just arrived at the Operations building to rescue them, they fled in that direction. Van Owen finally showed himself, having hidden in Operations when the raptors entered the town, and joined them in boarding the helicopter and fleeing the village.
As they flew out from the island, they passed over the remaining Harvesters. The male tyrannosaur had been tranquilized by Tembo, and Van Owen revealed he had stolen Tembo’s bullets to prevent the trophy killing. However, this was not the end of things; the tyrannosaur had been loaded into a cage and heavy-duty helicopters were preparing to move him. Ludlow still apparently believed that Jurassic Park could be salvaged.
After arriving in San Diego, Harding and Malcolm parted ways with Van Owen and brought Kelly to safety. They took Malcolm’s car to attend Ludlow’s early-morning press conference at the InGen waterfront in which he would announce Jurassic Park: San Diego to the public, hoping to decry his ambitions; they were initially blocked from entry by InGen Security guard Jerry Randall, but were permitted access by his colleague Hampton. Partway through Ludlow’s speech, and before he could mention the Jurassic Park brand by name, he was summoned into the harbor’s control room. Moments later, the S.S. Venture emerged from the night at flight speed, colliding with the dock until it ground to a halt on the shallow seabed.
Harding and Malcolm aided Ludlow and InGen personnel in investigating the cause of the crash. Remains of the crew on deck were discovered by an InGen guard named Berner, while Malcolm spotted pieces of evidence as to what had happened. Harding did not put the puzzle together as quickly, but when Malcolm suddenly panicked as Ludlow ordered Randall to open the cargo bay, she realized what his concern was: the tyrannosaur was locked in the cargo hold, having been busted out of its cage due to some kind of onboard accident, and Randall was now freeing it. Before they could warn Ludlow, the animal pushed its way out and stormed off the boat in a state of confusion and anger.
While Ludlow was in shock, Harding and Malcolm gathered more of what had happened. Harding was shocked to learn how the tyrannosaur had been treated; he first was overdosed on carfentanyl, and then as he slipped into a coma, InGen handlers had administered naltrexone to revive him. Having not known the proper dose for such a large animal, they overdosed him a second time, sending him into a drug-induced mania. This had led to the panic that accidentally damaged his cage and allowed him to escape; the crew had locked him in the cargo hold after several fatalities on deck including the captain, but it was too late to stop the ship from colliding with the dock. They learned from Ludlow that the infant had also been flown to the mainland on a jet and was now being held in the Jurassic Park: San Diego facility. Harding and Malcolm formulated a plan to get both animals back on the Venture.
Using Malcolm’s car, they trespassed into Jurassic Park: San Diego and acquired the infant, who was heavily drugged and muzzled. The idea was to use the infant’s distress cries to lure its father back into the cargo hold, then close it with both of them inside. As the infant slowly recovered from the tranquilizers, they tracked down the adult by following any signs of urban disturbance, finding him fairly easily as early-morning commuters were in a panic. By now, the juvenile had recovered enough to wail, and the father immediately honed in. He chased them back toward the waterfront, Malcolm pushing his car through a warehouse to take a shortcut. They ran onto the boat to place the infant in the cargo hold; on the way they passed Ludlow, who pursued them onto the deck. Before he could catch up with them, they had dropped off the infant and jumped over the Venture‘s railing. They clambered back onto the dock, Harding arming herself with a LAR Grizzly Big Bore and equipping it with tranquilizer darts. As she took a position on the Venture‘s bridge, she found herself in a race against the San Diego Police SWAT to hit the adult first; a sniper in a helicopter was approaching to make a much more lethal shot. She wasted no time in launching a dart at the tyrannosaur as he made a final attempt to escape. Malcolm was at the cargo hold door controls, shutting them on the resistant animal. As the tranquilizer hit, he recoiled in surprise, allowing the doors to close and protecting him from the SWAT sniper.
From here, the United States Armed Forces took control of the situation, escorting the Venture back to Isla Sorna to release the animals into the wild again. Harding and Malcolm rejoined Kelly and retired to Malcolm’s California apartment where they attempted, but failed, to stay awake and see Hammond’s commentary on the matter.
Aftermath of the incident and recent events
De-extinction was now publicly known, and in one way or another they had prevented Ludlow from opening the Park in San Diego. Ludlow himself went missing during the incident immediately after he pursued the scientists onto the Venture, meaning he was probably killed by the tyrannosaurs. Harding and Malcolm do not appear to have faced dire legal consequence for this, though there was surely an investigation; it had never been their intent to harm anyone, and Ludlow’s demise was his own fault alone. The tyrannosaurs were safely returned home, and InGen faced bankruptcy along with its lack of leadership.
Hammond and some of InGen’s remaining top brass worked with the U.S. government to protect the dinosaurs from here on out, signing into law the Gene Guard Act which heavily restricted de-extinction and prohibited access to Isla Sorna or Isla Nublar. He passed away not long afterward, at the end of 1997. The following year, the struggling InGen was bought out by Masrani Global Corporation, saving it from collapse. For a period of a few years it appeared that Isla Sorna was safely protected. It is unknown if Dr. Harding worked with the United Nations in any capacity monitoring the island.
Masrani Global had plans for the dinosaurs, however, and in 2002 it was announced that Isla Nublar would become the site of a re-imagined Jurassic Park, now called Jurassic World. The Gene Guard Act was watered down the year after, and finally in 2004 an ecological crisis was documented on Isla Sorna; the island was in a state of trophic collapse. For their own safety, Masrani Global had the dinosaurs relocated to Isla Nublar, where they would be cared for in Jurassic World by the best veterinarians InGen could train.
As of the summer of 2004, Jurassic World did employ a woman named Sarah as the second-in-command to their lead herbivore trainer at the park. There is no confirmation as to whether or not this was Dr. Sarah Harding.
Jurassic World operated without major issue for ten years, closing down suddenly at the end of 2015 due to a catastrophic failure of security procedures. From here, de-extinct animal rights once again became a major political issue, with the whole world involved in an age of digital media. Sarah Harding does not appear to have been a significant voice in this debate, apparently allowing younger activists such as Claire Dearing to take her place. She has not been reached for comment on any of the issues surrounding de-extinction since her involvement in the events of 1997.
Although the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar were threatened by volcanic activity between 2017 and mid-2018, they were relocated to the Pacific Northwest as conditions on the island worsened. During the night of June 24, the animals were released into the wild, and have now established small populations in North America. Some were also sold on the black market, allowing their once-copyrighted DNA into the hands of organizations and individuals worldwide. These creatures are now firmly here to stay, and Dr. Harding’s behavioral paleontology research is more relevant than ever.
Dr. Harding has worked with dangerous predatory animals since a very young age and is intimately familiar with their behavior, enabling her to predict when they are going to act aggressively and how best to conduct herself in their presence. Most of her experience is in fieldwork in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, but she also has connections at the San Diego Zoo, such as through her father. Along with carnivorous animals, she can work reasonably well with herbivores; she does, however, have an unfortunate penchant for interacting with her subjects more than is generally advised by field experts. This can sometimes put her in dangerous situations which she will need to improvise ways out of; fortunately she seems to be good at daring escapes.
Along with living alongside animals in the wild, Dr. Harding is also a capable veterinarian with a thorough knowledge of comparative anatomy and pharmacology. She is able to treat animal injuries, set broken bones, and sanitize wounds even in species she is unfamiliar with, making use of veterinary equipment such as x-ray technology as well as simpler tools such as injection syringes. When she lacks the equipment she needs, she is good at improvising using whatever is available. Although she is able to administer medication to animals, she is especially cautious about doing so, especially if she does not know much about her patient’s metabolism.
She notably was the first person to study de-extinct life in wild conditions. For a period of a few days in 1997 she was alone on Isla Sorna, applying a combination of her experience around wild animals and her knowledge of dinosaur paleontology to avoid dangerous situations while studying a family group of Stegosaurus. She was learning on the fly, trying to judge the dinosaurs’ behavior patterns to predict what they would do.
As a part of her fieldwork career, Dr. Harding needs to be fully versed in how to remain safe in the wild, and often works in remote locations where professional medical help could be hours or even days away. Basic tactics such as hiding her scent and tracking the movements of animal life have kept her alive in the territories of predators such as lions and hyenas, and she is also able to identify various types of plant life and is knowledgeable about their nutrition value. She has demonstrated skill at watching herbivorous animals’ feeding patterns to locate nutritious plants.
When deprived of sleep, Dr. Harding will sometimes make obvious blunders. One infamous example of a mistake she made was failing to disguise scents during the 1997 incident on Isla Sorna. When fully rested, she had stressed the importance of getting away from a pair of Tyrannosaurus due to the animals’ incredible sense of smell, but after hours of nonstop hiking and well over a day without sleep she neglected to identify tyrannosaur blood on her jacket as a source of scent that the animals would track. When bedding for the night, she also neglected to bag the remains of snacks she had eaten. A few hours of sleep refreshed her mind enough to recognize her mistakes, but by that time it was far too late.
Zoology and paleontology
Attending New York State University and Johns Hopkins University gave Dr. Harding access to world-renowned education in biological fields; she holds degrees in veterinary medicine, cultural anthropology, and paleontology. In much of her college career she studied the application of genetics to these fields, particularly the latter two. Her background knowledge in biology is supplemented by extensive fieldwork. Animals are her specialty, particularly the ways in which animals perceive and react to their world. With many years of studying animal behavior both in captivity and in the wild, Dr. Harding is considered one of the leading global experts in her field; she is especially respected for her theories on parenting behaviors of carnivorous animals.
As her degree in paleontology suggests, her expertise is not limited to extant species. In the mid-to-late 1990s, she established herself as a highly noteworthy paleobiologist by applying her knowledge of modern animal behavior patterns to extinct species. Since she mostly researches predators in the modern age, carnivorous dinosaurs such as theropods are her primary area of paleontological study. For much of scientific history, it was assumed that dinosaurs parented not unlike lizards and snakes, abandoning their young not long after hatching. Harding believed that dinosaurs would more likely be attentive parents like modern birds and crocodilians, though she also modeled her theories using mammalian behavioral specimens. De-extinct dinosaurs have provided evidence that Dr. Harding’s theories on dinosaur parenting are reliable and accurate.
Part of Dr. Harding’s job as a field researcher is wildlife photography, which she appears comfortable at. She prefers to use Nikon cameras. Getting ideal shots of her subjects is not always easy, and sometimes after tracking animals for a while in pursuit of the perfect picture she will begin to take risks. This can lead her to disturb her subjects if she gets too close to them or interacts too much.
An ability to walk for hours at a time, even in pouring rain or blistering heat, is a must for a wildlife researcher and Dr. Harding is adept on most kinds of terrain. She has good upper body strength, though she does sometimes struggle climbing slick surfaces. Her endurance is exceptional, although she is not an extremely fast runner, and her agility is also worthy of note. Being a short and compact person, she is good at dodging danger and slipping through narrow spaces, which can help her avoid threatening animals or navigate difficult terrain. While exhaustion can numb her mind, she does not become physically tired easily and recovers quickly from strenuous activity.
Dr. Harding does not have any known disabilities or long-term illnesses, other than a fear of heights.
Skill with children
Although she does not have any children of her own, Dr. Harding grew up with a younger half-sister who was born when she was thirteen. While dating Dr. Ian Malcolm, she became close with Malcolm’s daughter Kelly, often babysitting her and acting as a much-needed maternal figure. Kelly’s biological mother had left her to travel abroad, and Malcolm had become estranged from her for part of her childhood as well; Dr. Harding’s father had also been distant for a good amount of her childhood. This difficult upbringing seems to have enabled Harding to empathize with children whose home lives are troubled, and gives her a motive to help them grow into mentally strong and independent adults like herself.
Dr. Harding is capable with a firearm, although she seldom uses them. She is not a hunter by trade or by nature, so the only weapons she tends to use are nonlethal. Tranquilizer guns are a common asset to a field zoologist studying large animals; she most likely uses tranquilizers to down her research specimens for up-close study or relocation. She has been known to handle a LAR Grizzly Big Bore with proficiency.
Harding is notable for having been one of the first paleobiologists to thoroughly apply her own modern zoological research observations for modeling the behaviors of Mesozoic life forms. Her area of expertise is theropod parental behavior, which she suggested in the 1990s was more akin to modern birds and crocodilians than more primitive reptiles such as lizards and snakes. This ran contrary to many older assumptions about dinosaurs; scientists in decades past had long believed that dinosaurs were primitive creatures and that this was part of why they became extinct. From the 1960s and 1970s, however, evidence began to come to light that dinosaurs were warm-blooded and that many were fast and intelligent. While Harding was growing up, this research was brand-new, and it was still not totally accepted when she began her academic career.
One of her main rivals was Dr. Robert Burke, with whom she had a number of disagreements. Burke still subscribed to the older idea that theropod dinosaurs did not exhibit parental care, and would abandon their young upon hatching. Harding believed that, based on the behaviors of their modern relatives and other ecologically comparable species, theropods would have been attentive parents which cared for their offspring. In 1997, she observed de-extinct dinosaurs protecting their young even after leaving the nest, supporting her theories. Her observations included theropods as well as stegosaurs and ceratopsians, suggesting that parental care is widespread throughout Dinosauria. This is in line with observations of their modern-day relatives, including their descendants the birds and their cousins the crocodilians. In fact, it is reasonable to assume that parental care is common to all archosaur groups.
On animal rights
Dr. Harding is an ardent supporter of animal rights and believes that all creatures should have the ability to self-determine without significant human intervention. However, she does not subscribe to the idea that all human interaction with wildlife is necessarily harmful. Her statements on this matter do not seem to match her actions; she has commented that even minor human influences can permanently alter an environment, but happily interacts with wild animals (sometimes at personal risk). It would seem that she holds other people to a much higher standard than herself, trusting in her own judgment to determine when an interaction will be harmless but not trusting the same in others.
She is not opposed to zoos or wildlife parks, but seems to believe steps must be taken in these situations to ensure no animal exploitation is occurring. Her opposition to Jurassic Park: San Diego was primarily rooted in her belief that the animals should not be removed from their native environment and transplanted to a zoo, as well as the InGen Harvesters’ poor treatment of the animals in their custody. Capturing animals from the wild is still a controversial practice as it can have harmful effects on natural populations and traumatize the animals that are captured. The de-extinct life on Isla Sorna existed in precariously small population sizes and the removal of even a few breeding adults could have devastated those populations permanently. On the other hand, Isla Sorna was already far too small of an environment for herds of megafauna to inhabit in the long term.
Harding has not made many comments on the ethics of de-extinction, but during the 1990s when de-extinct life was restricted to a few islands in the Gulf of Fernandez, she seems to have been fully supportive of it. She viewed it as a tool for better understanding prehistoric life, since many of the resultant species were at least partly comparable to their prehistoric ancestors. When given the chance, she immediately accepted an assignment on Isla Sorna to research the life forms created there; her field research was informed by and later used to supplement her paleontological theories. She opposed the removal of de-extinct life to the mainland, however, believing that these unnatural animals should be left in an isolated ecosystem. She has not yet commented on Jurassic World, or the introduction of de-extinct animals to mainland environments, but she opposed similar concepts in the 1990s.
Dr. Harding is acrophobic, having a serious fear of heights. In the original script for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, her acrophobia is much more intense, giving her noticeable anxiety when standing on any moderately elevated structure; it is toned down in the final film in which she only shows fear of extreme heights.
Dr. Harding enjoys apple turnovers. While in the field, she often uses snacks such as granola and candy bars or crackers for bursts of energy.
Dr. Harding seems to have had mostly troubled relationships with her family. Her father, veterinarian Dr. Gerry Harding, was probably responsible for getting her into zoology but became estranged from her in the early 1990s. According to her half-sister Jess Harding in the summer of 1993, it had been around a year since Gerry and Sarah Harding last spoke; it is likely that the half-sisters also did not speak often. Gerry Harding divorced his first wife, Sarah’s mother, and remarried sometime before the late 1970s when Jess was born; Sarah’s relationships with her mother and stepmother are poorly known at this time.
It is likely that Gerry Harding became more involved with his family again after the incidents of 1993, but he did not violate his nondisclosure agreement with InGen even for his daughter. Because he voluntarily remained tight-lipped about what had happened on Isla Nublar, he is in a roundabout way responsible for Sarah seeking out Dr. Ian Malcolm to learn the truth, and by extension responsible for their romantic relationship. Details about the Harding family dynamic after the incident are not known at this time.
Dr. Ian Malcolm and family
Harding met the mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm in 1993, after her father returned from a mysterious veterinary assignment at a remote Costa Rican location. She had heard rumors that InGen succeeded at bringing extinct species back to life, and as Malcolm was supposedly a survivor of an incident happening at her father’s workplace, she sought him out while he was recovering from injuries he had sustained. Malcolm confirmed that the rumors had some truth to them, informing her of what he knew. Though they were separated in age by a full decade, they developed romantic feelings for one another and soon began a long-term relationship.
Their relationship was not easy, as their personalities clashed often. Harding is impulsive and strong-willed, reluctant to submit to any authority and even less likely to admit she is wrong. Malcolm is cynical, hesitant and nervous, quick to point out fault in others and with an egotistical streak to rival Harding’s independence. She considered him unreliable; he infamously stood her up on a date with his parents, leaving Harding alone with her potential in-laws-to-be. Harding’s commentary on the incident suggests that she considers Malcolm’s parents to be intimidating, and that their relationship may be as rocky as the one she has with Dr. Malcolm himself.
She got along much better with Malcolm’s young daughter Kelly, who was around eight years old when Harding and Malcolm began dating. One of three children, Kelly’s relationship with her father was also marred by a long history of estrangement; he had only become more active in her life after his near-death experience in 1993. Harding had something in common with Kelly here, and stepped in as a maternal figure. Kelly’s biological mother had walked out of the family some years past to venture abroad, and it is unlikely that she and Harding ever met. Harding became a role model who Kelly appreciated and respected, especially as they also shared a fierce sense of independence and disdain for authority.
The incidents of 1997 brought Harding closer together with both Dr. Malcolm and Kelly, as they had to cooperate in order to survive a variety of threatening situations. Kelly seemed keen on the romantic relationship between her father and Dr. Harding. However, details about their later relationship are currently undisclosed.
Dr. Harding stands out in her field as a motivated scientist who started at a young age and established herself as a highly respected researcher bringing together multiple disciplines of biology. She comes highly recommended, and her strong personality certainly does her favors in terms of publicity. Harding is perhaps more suited to solo work than operating as part of a team; she does not like to take orders and instead blazes her own trail. Research organizations are probably better off giving her an assignment, funding, and equipment and then letting her make the decisions from there; she invariably brings back valuable scientific data through whatever means she deems appropriate.
In the world of paleontology, she made a rival in Dr. Robert Burke, who often tried to emulate the style of the more famous Dr. Robert Bakker but espoused much more old-fashioned theories. Burke was notorious for suggesting that parental care was absent in dinosaurs, believing it to be a recent evolution found only in birds. (This, of course, ignores the fact that parental care is also found in crocodilians, the only other archosaurs left alive.) Harding has spent years observing living animals, especially carnivorous mammals, and believes that intelligent predators are significantly likely to protect and nurture their offspring. Burke, who studied only fossils, unrelentingly disagreed. Their competing theories were tested on Isla Sorna, where they both encountered de-extinct dinosaurs. Harding observed nearly all of these species exhibiting parental care, supporting her theory and providing evidence against Burke’s. During the expedition, Burke’s employers aggravated a mated pair of Tyrannosaurus which killed Burke while defending their nesting territory.
Harding volunteered in 1997 to spearhead an expedition to Isla Sorna, where International Genetic Technologies had first brought extinct animals back to life through genetic engineering and cloning. John Hammond, InGen’s former CEO, had hopes that documenting the animals living on their own without human intervention would help sway the public in favor of designating the island a nature preserve. Harding’s credentials were impressive indeed, and she was probably led to believe this was why Hammond had hired her, but he did have an ulterior motive: he knew she was Dr. Malcolm’s girlfriend and hoped to use her as leverage to get Malcolm on the island, capitalizing on his star power to help with publicity. Harding did not believe Malcolm would come at all, and did not tell him about the mission as she believed he would actively try and stop her.
Hammond’s personal notes (as found on the Universal Studios website for the film) describe Dr. Harding as attractive, as well as detailing her personality traits and professional skill.
Aside from Malcolm, two other men were hired by Hammond for the expedition. One was Nick Van Owen, a video documentarian and avid environmentalist. The other was Eddie Carr, owner of Mobile Field Systems and a respected equipment engineer. Harding appears to have met both of them before departing on the mission. Collectively, the team sent by Hammond was called the Gatherers. They were joined by Malcolm’s daughter Kelly, who had stowed away in an attempt to prove her usefulness.
Of the two other specialists on the Gatherer team, Harding had the most in common with Van Owen, and worked with him extensively during the operation. She accompanied him on a mission of radical environmentalism, sabotaging the InGen vehicles and releasing the captured dinosaurs; this inadvertently stranded everyone on Isla Sorna when the radio equipment was trampled by an angry bull Triceratops. The two of them cooperated to set the broken leg of a juvenile tyrannosaur, an action which attracted its parents; this resulted in Eddie Carr’s death as he tried to rescue them. While he was killed, his aid did save the other Gatherers’ lives.
The rest of the expedition was no longer about research and environmental activism, but about getting off Isla Sorna. The Gatherers and Harvesters were forced to merge into a single group, combining their strength to trek across the island toward the Workers’ Village and contact InGen’s Harvest Base on the S.S. Venture stationed offshore. Van Owen assumed a leader-like position, with Harding providing support to the frightened Kelly and the less athletic Malcolm. The four of them were eventually separated from the Harvesters during a tyrannosaur attack, and evacuated Isla Sorna separately. Van Owen parted ways with them after this point, and Kelly was brought to safety while Drs. Harding and Malcolm tackled the events unfolding in San Diego on their own.
It is unknown if Hammond or Van Owen remained in touch with Harding after the incidents were over. Hammond was heavily involved with ongoing legislation related to de-extinction for the next couple months, and passed away at the turn of the new year after the Gene Guard Act was successfully passed.
While her father was the chief veterinarian at Jurassic Park, he did not speak much about his assignment due to having signed a nondisclosure agreement. Thus, Sarah Harding’s relationship with InGen was basically nonexistent before 1997. When she was contacted about John Hammond’s Gatherer operation, she voluntarily went to his residence and offered her services as a field researcher. Though she did not know it at the time, this would put her in direct conflict with InGen, since Hammond had been fired a few months ago and replaced with the former Chairman Peter Ludlow. She would have already known about Ludlow from Malcolm, since the former spent two years ruining Dr. Malcolm’s career after he violated his nondisclosure agreement and discussed Jurassic Park on live television.
The InGen expedition, called the Harvesters, landed on Isla Sorna a couple days after Dr. Harding did and immediately after she was joined by her fellow Gatherers. Ludlow himself accompanied the Harvesters, though his lead hunter Roland Tembo was treated as the true head of the operation. His second-in-command was Dieter Stark, a weapons connoisseur and skilled driver. Accompanying Tembo was his trusted hunting partner Ajay Sidhu, and advising the group was Dr. Harding’s own rival Dr. Robert Burke. None of the Harvesters knew of Dr. Harding and the Gatherers’ presence until after the camp had been sabotaged; Nick Van Owen had cut a padlock off one of the cages, and the evidence of sabotage was discovered by Stark. The Harvesters tracked down their enemies, but found them in peril; the tyrannosaurs had attacked the Gatherers’ camp in retaliation for their infant being taken from the nest. Both groups were marooned, with no way to contact either of their boats.
Harding’s main interactions among the Harvesters were with Roland Tembo, who she found to be a more complicated figure than he appeared. Though he was a big-game hunter, a diametric opposite to her environmentalist researcher, he was compromising and calm. While the two of them did not become friends, they cooperated easily in their efforts to survive and came to understand and respect each other’s views. Tembo showed concern for Harding’s health when he saw blood on her jacket, and treated her as the most capable member of the Gatherers (partly as he did not trust Van Owen). Likewise, she found him a strong and honorable leader, and one of the very few authority figures she did not take issue with. Harding, however, did not stop Van Owen from stealing the bullets out of Tembo’s gun in order to prevent him from trophy hunting.
During the final night on Isla Sorna, the Harvesters gave their only remaining tent to Dr. Harding and Kelly, the rest of the group sleeping on the ground in the open air. The tyrannosaurs, drawn to the campsite by the blood on Harding’s jacket, attacked that night; her neglect to hide obvious scents caused the deaths of several Harvesters including Dr. Burke, though she did try to save him. The attack separated Harding from the Harvesters, though she and her companions witnessed the firefight with the Velociraptor pride at a distance.
After being evacuated, she and Malcolm tried to attend Ludlow’s press conference in San Diego where he would announce Jurassic Park to the public, but were barred entry by InGen Security guard Jerry Randall. They were eventually permitted to enter by his colleague Hampton, as Ludlow wanted to allow them to witness his success. After the Venture collided with the dock, Harding was among those who assisted in investigating the disaster; Hampton later filled her in on what had happened when he learned more, and Ludlow informed her of the juvenile tyrannosaur’s location.
They faced a few more Security personnel while retrieving the juvenile, but avoided being apprehended. As they returned the dinosaurs to the Venture, Ludlow pursued them; they jumped over the ship’s railing into the harbor before he could catch up, and they did not see him again. Unbeknownst to Harding and Malcolm, Ludlow had entered the ship’s hold in pursuit of the juvenile and was killed; it had never been their intent for harm to come to him.
InGen suffered due to Harding’s interference, but the disaster was certainly made worse by Ludlow’s unwillingness to give up when the odds were insurmountable. Over the course of the 1997 incident, though, Harding did contribute significantly to the death toll through her neglectful actions; she aided in the destruction of InGen’s equipment including all their vehicles, caused the tyrannosaurs to aggressively attack the campsite areas, and failed to wash the juvenile’s blood off of her jacket which allowed the adults to track them easily. Her role in ending the San Diego incident seems to have spared her from legal inquiry, and as this incident was one aspect of the whole disaster that was decidedly not her fault, she is more or less in the clear.
It is unknown whether she has had any involvement with InGen in the ensuing years. InGen illegally interfered with Isla Sorna not long after being bought out by Masrani Global Corporation, irreversibly damaging the ecosystem that Dr. Harding had worked so hard to protect. Jurassic World ran contrary to everything she had fought for in the 1990s, so it is unlikely she visited it. The closure of the park was a devastating blow to InGen, and it has still not recovered. In the meantime, de-extinct life has been introduced to the North American mainland and sold on the black market, so all of the animal rights issues Dr. Harding had cautioned about have now come to pass.
Rumors about de-extinction were circulating around in the mid-1990s, but Dr. Harding only got confirmation of the truth by visiting Jurassic Park survivor Dr. Ian Malcolm while he recovered in a Costa Rican hospital. She did not see these animals in the flesh until 1997, when John Hammond formed an operation to protect Isla Sorna’s now-wild dinosaurs from exploitation by InGen and other parties. Harding volunteered to lead the charge, landing on the island ahead of the rest of the team to record the animals as they were without human influence.
Her main research subject was Stegosaurus, including a family group consisting of a mated pair, a subadult, and a juvenile female (nicknamed Claire). She also observed multiple nesting sites, noticing crushed eggshells indicating that the animals remained at the site long after the eggs had hatched. During her time alone on the island, she made a few attempts to photograph the nests, but could not get close enough. Her research did indicate that the herbivorous dinosaurs were feeding on lysine-rich plant life to combat their lysine deficiency, and she hypothesized that the carnivorous animals got their lysine by feeding on the herbivores.
Dr. Harding finally got close enough to photograph Claire after being joined by the other Gatherers, and also took the opportunity to pet her research subject (despite her insistence that they not influence the ecosystem). The sound of the camera she borrowed surprised the juvenile stegosaur and caused the larger animals to attack. She was nearly trampled and impaled by the adult male, narrowly avoiding him by hiding in a hollow log.
InGen’s Harvester operation landed that day, and Dr. Harding observed them collect specimens of many other dinosaurs beginning with a male Pachycephalosaurus and a male Parasaurolophus. Other dinosaurs they captured included several Compsognathus, a few Gallimimus, adult and juvenile Stegosaurus, and a single adult male Triceratops and his offspring. During the operation she witnessed a pair of Mamenchisaurus, but these were not targeted by InGen due to their size. That night, she helped to covertly release the captured dinosaurs from their cages; the adult Triceratops was particularly agitated and attacked the campsite during his escape. This caused the Harvesters to become stranded on the island.
Dr. Harding also was brought a wounded baby male Tyrannosaurus, which had been set up as bait for a hunting trap by InGen. She was able to set the broken leg and disinfect the wound, allowing the injured creature a second chance at life, but its frightened wailing attracted both its mother and father to the Gatherers’ camp. Harding returned the juvenile to his parents, but they did not depart peacefully: instead they rammed the mobile laboratory over a cliff to eliminate what they believed to be a threat to their young. While this endangered Dr. Harding and cost the life of one of her companions, it also confirmed her theories about theropod parenting behaviors, which gave her some sense of validation.
The tyrannosaurs tracked her across the island by the scent of the juvenile on her jacket, which she was too exhausted to realize was a danger. This led to an attack on the final night of the incident in which Harding was cornered in a small cave by the mother, and she was unable to save the life of Dr. Burke as he was killed. She was also threatened during their effort to reach the evacuation point by a pride of Velociraptors which inhabited the abandoned Workers’ Village. Most of these raptors were in the surrounding fields fighting the InGen hunters, but three remained behind and pursued her through the village. One of the male raptors was wounded by Kelly, and as the other male and the female pursued Harding she was able to get them to fight with each other. This allowed her to escape.
As she was evacuated out, she spotted the InGen hunters regrouping around the male tyrannosaur, prepping it for an airlift. She and Malcolm attended Ludlow’s press conference in San Diego a few hours later, witnessing the incident in which the male was accidentally released into the city in a drug-fueled state of hyperactivity. Harding learned that the juvenile was being held at the Jurassic Park facility and retrieved him; her knowledge of the dinosaurs’ behavior allowed her to predict where the adult would go (seeking water for his dehydration, then food) and how to get him back to the boat (he would follow his son’s distress cries). Harding’s plan worked, with Malcolm’s help, and they were able to get both tyrannosaurs into the Venture‘s cargo hold before the San Diego Police Department could fatally shoot the father.
She did not accompany the Venture back to Isla Sorna. This was likely the last she saw of dinosaurs for a considerable amount of time, as Isla Sorna was declared a no-fly zone by the United Nations and was now protected by U.S. and international law. Unfortunately, it would not remain a haven forever; human interference did come to the island illegally, destabilizing its ecosystem. The animals were eventually relocated to captivity on Isla Nublar to save them from dying out, and when Isla Nublar also became unsuitable for them, many were brought to the mainland. They were intended to be sold, but most were instead released into the wild. While this is essentially the opposite of Dr. Harding’s original objective, she still played a significant role in the dinosaurs’ fates. Many of those animals now living in the Pacific Northwest are likely descendants or relatives of those she once freed from InGen.
Dr. Sarah Harding is portrayed by Julianne Moore. She is based on the character of the same name in Michael Crichton‘s novel The Lost World; her character is rather less altered from the novel’s incarnation than most of the other characters. Her personality is similar to the novel, but she is described by Crichton as being much more muscular and with short, black hair. Although she is a reasonably popular character among fans, interviews with Julianne Moore suggest that the actress took this role because it was a decent-paying job rather than because she was interested in the franchise itself.