October 9, 2009
When I want to watch a movie but am not sure what I’m in the mood for, I usually pop in one of the Jurassic Park DVDs. I am not going to argue that they are classic cinema, but it is pretty fun to see dinosaurs “brought back to life” through puppetry and CGI, even if the series became increasingly silly. Tonight I put on the second film, The Lost World, but as I did so I wondered about the fate of the franchise. Would there be a Jurassic Park IV, and if so, what dinosaurs would be in it?
There is a sort of unspoken expectation that each subsequent Jurassic Park film will feature new dinosaurs. Never mind that the introduction of new species has not always made sense; we want more dinosaurs! As such I have made a short list of five dinosaurs I would love to see should the series be brought back from extinction:
This is probably the coolest dinosaur that most people have not heard of. Standing about 20 feet tall with eight-foot-long arms tipped in enormous three-foot-long claws, Therizinosaurus was one of the most bizarre dinosaurs to have ever lived. It had a small head, long neck, and huge gut for digesting plants, yet it walked on its hind legs and was more closely related to “raptors” than any other herbivorous dinosaurs. It may have even been covered in filament-like protofeathers. If the creators of JP IV really want to wow their audience, there is no better choice than Therizinosaurus.
The Jurassic Park franchise already has its share of large predators (like Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus), but what’s one more? Millions of years before the first tyrannosaurs evolved, Torvosaurus was one of the largest predators of the Late Jurassic (about 161 to 145 million years ago). It had a long jaw full of huge teeth and robust forearms tipped in large claws. It can’t compete with Tyrannosaurus in terms of popularity, but I bet it would be just as terrifying to whatever humans are pitted against the dinosaurs in the next installment.
The only sauropod dinosaurs that have appeared in the Jurassic Park series so far are Brachiosaurus and Mamenchisaurus (Thanks, zeta), so why not add another, stranger one into the mix? Nigersaurus lived during the middle of the Cretaceous, about 119 to 99 million years ago, and it was unlike the classic sauropods the public is familiar with. It was relatively small, had a short neck, and had a head shaped like a vaccuum cleaner. It would definitely be something audiences have never seen before on screen.
4) The “Last Chance Ceratopsian”
Triceratops made appearances in the first two Jurassic Park films but really only had the equivalent of a walk-on. Not only do I think that old “three-horned face” should get more screen time, but that a new horned dinosaur should be introduced. This past summer I saw the skull of what is informally being called the “Last Chance Ceratopsian,” a horned dinosaur with a big nose, two small brow horns, and a big frill that sports to large spikes. Word on the street is that it will even have a pretty cool sounding name, and what better way to make the public aware of it than to give it at least a cameo in the next movie?
During the first two Jurassic Park films the hapless humans had to worry about the huge Tyrannosaurus and the smaller Velociraptor. For the next installment I think the filmmakers should split the difference and introduce Raptorex, a relative of Tyrannosaurus that was about the size of the “raptors” in the films. Maybe it would have more trouble opening doors with its puny arms, but I think the “tiny tyrant” would be a fine choice for the next film’s main antagonist.
Obviously my list is biased towards recently-discovered and bizarre dinosaurs, and I’m sure you have ideas of your own. In the poll below vote for which of the above dinosaurs you would most like to see in Jurassic Park IV, or feel free to introduce your own picks in the comments.
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.