Jack Horner was the Paleontology Consultant on all six of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movies. He joins Based on a True Story to chat about the real dinosaurs we saw in the franchise.
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Dan LeFebvre 03:45
Near the beginning of the first Jurassic Park movie were introduced to the two main characters, Dr. Sattler, a paleobotanist botanist and Dr. Grant a paleontologist. They’re working together on a dig sites in the Badlands in Montana. And my question for you is more about Dr. Grant. Because not only were you a consultant on the first Jurassic Park movie, but the filmmakers based the character of Dr. Grant on you so what was your first impression when you saw Sam Neill’s character portraying someone based on you in the movie?
Jack Horner 04:21
Well, first, the first off, you know, the, it was Michael Crichton, who wrote, you know, who created the character he had, he had just written he had just, you know, read my, one of my first books called digging dinosaurs. It was about, you know, the discovery of baby dinosaurs and stuff like that. And so, you know, when, and that character Alan Grant character in Michael Crichton’s book was actually based on two people. Two of us paleontologists, a guy named Bob Barker, and myself off. And we had both written books that Michael Crichton wrote, read. And then he created the single character. And then when Steven Spielberg made, you know, started making Jurassic Park, he separated the two characters and, and made, you know, Sam Neil became Alan Grant. And, and he was supposed to be portraying me and then in the second version of Jurassic, you know, Jurassic Park to the wolves world. They, he created another character for Bob. So it was, you know, it was interesting to see and, you know, I, you know, there obviously there are there. Michael Crichton, tried to get some things right. And some things you know, are just fictional.
Dan LeFebvre 05:53
One impression I got from the first Jurassic Park movie was the T Rex hunted alone, while the velociraptors are pack hunters. And I remember just from my own experience, I remember before I saw Jurassic Park, for the first time, I used to think the T Rex was the most dangerous dinosaur out there. But after watching Jurassic Park, it made me think that the Raptor was a lot more dangerous because of their intelligence and ability to hunt in packs. Is that a correct impression to get about the velociraptors being even more dangerous than a T Rex?
Jack Horner 06:26
Well, I think so. I mean, I, I honestly, you know, I, I’m a proponent of the idea that T rex is really more of an opportunist, that it took sick animals and you know, that it wasn’t a apex predator by any means. So it was out there scavenging and, and, you know, taking down weakened animals, whereas Velociraptor or the, you know, what we would call the raptorial. Man, a raptor and dinosaurs. They were, you know, they were the apex predators. They just weren’t very big, but, you know, you have a packed home and, and that’s more dangerous than even larger animals, because they are more agile and can get around quicker and, and, and, and we think that, you know, that much like modern birds, modern raptors, you know, modern raptor birds, that, that they probably would just did, literally just start eating their live eating their prey live, you know, they didn’t go to, you know, lions and tigers go to a lot of trouble to dispatch the prey first, they kill it, and then they start eating. Whereas birds oftentimes will knock their prey down, just stand on him and start eating him. And so you know, they don’t really worry about whether the animals alive or
Dan LeFebvre 07:51
not. Yeah, I think they even mentioned that a little bit. And Dr. Grant mentions that in the movie talking about how the Raptors would would start eating them alive.
Jack Horner 07:58
You’re not quite there, they just start ripping you apart. Neither one is a good way you know, that’s true.
Dan LeFebvre 08:08
You mentioned them going fascinate in the movies. I think they mentioned that the T Rex vision while one is based on movement, but then they also said they clocked it at 32 miles an hour. And then the raptors in the first movie, they mentioned 50 to 60 miles an hour. But then I think in Jurassic World, they actually mentioned 40 to 50 miles an hour, where the Raptors were faster.
Jack Horner 08:29
Well, the Raptors were faster than T Rex. But T Rex couldn’t run it all. The biomechanical, the biomechanical studies that have been done on T Rex suggests that, you know, they wanted to be able to walk fast, but they could not run. The velociraptors could run but whether they could make 40 miles an hour or not, I think is questionable.
Dan LeFebvre 08:51
Okay, so they really did rely a lot more on the pack mentality. It sounds like if if they weren’t as that fast?
Jack Horner 08:59
Well, more likely, more than likely, yes. Yeah.
Dan LeFebvre 09:03
At the beginning of the second movie, he mentioned that the The Lost World, John Hammond explains how the dinosaurs have survived for four years since the first movie on their own, despite being bred lysine, deficient as a form of security, and what should have killed him after seven days without the supplemental enzymes, they’re able to survive, and to quote him and from the movie, these creatures need our absence to survive, not our help. And that concept got me thinking about how different the environment and ecosystems are now compared to how it was when dinosaurs were alive. Do you think that dinosaurs could coexist and survive in today’s environment with humans?
Jack Horner 09:40
Well, you know, they’re sure they’re not going to do well with you know, benzene in the, in the atmosphere, or some of the other pollutants that we dump out. But, but, you know, the climate really isn’t that much different. I know, you know, a lot of people are sort of confused by time. You know, the big giant dragon flies and the time when there was actually more, you know, oxygen in the atmosphere was actually 300 million years ago, not, not 65 million years ago. So. So you know that, that that’s people just get kind of confused by the, the whole time to time business. I don’t think there was very much difference. Personally, at least all of this, all of this research I’ve seen, suggests that there, you know, it’s negligible. The difference between then and now, other than the fact that you know, that we’re, you know, killing ourselves with pollute pollutants. Are there any else?
Dan LeFebvre 10:43
Yeah, and I guess that that could play a part into it. But from what it sounds like, it wouldn’t be enough, even that maybe may not be enough.
Jack Horner 10:51
No, that they’d be, they’d be pretty, it’d be pretty well off.
Dan LeFebvre 10:56
In the last world, there’s another species of dinosaur that gets some screen time, and it’s shown throughout the entire franchise, and that’s the copies. They’re actually really cute in the movies, with their little chittering noises. And they’re described as scavengers, and they, of course turn deadly when they team up and kill Dieter Stark in that movie, how well did the movie depict what copies were
Jack Horner 11:16
really like? Probably not at all. First off, first off, we only have a couple of specimens. And, and they’re found in lakes, you know, so they’ve, their carcasses literally washed out into a lake. And so we have really no behavioral information whatsoever. And, you know, they’re basically a little mountain raptor and little raptorial, like dinosaur themselves. And so, you know, there’s really no, nothing to suggest that they weren’t, you know, feeding, having feeding behaviors very similar to Velociraptor, other related dinosaurs.
Dan LeFebvre 11:58
Obviously, in Jurassic Park, they fill in the DNA with animals that we have. And so for something like a copy, where we don’t have a lot of information about them, is it possible at all to fill in any information about what they might have been like with other animals that may be similar?
Jack Horner 12:15
That really is that really is how we do it. And, you know, when it comes to genetics, and you know, you know, 50% of our DNA is identical to a banana. So, you know, you could use a banana instead of a frog. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s sort of ridiculous to think that, you know, you know, that one animal is going to get us closer than another. So when it you know, when it comes to behaviors, you mean, we don’t even we don’t really, we’ve got one, literally one specimen of, of a plant eating dinosaur that has a bunch of Dido Nikas teeth around it, more than would fit in the jaw, you know, more than one animal can afford to lose. And that’s our only evidence of patenting. I mean, you know, we, we have so little information about the behaviors of any dinosaur, that, you know, they’re just, we get a little tiny bit of information, and then we, you know, arm wave, basically, you know, we just, it’s all guesswork. We don’t really know the behavior of any dinosaur. I mean, you know, other than the, just the simplest things like, you know, like the baby dinosaurs, we have baby dinosaurs in a nest, that doubled in size. So, so we have, we can pretty easily hypothesize that the baby dinosaurs stayed in their nest for that period of time, that they didn’t get out, go somewhere, and then come back. I mean, no, there really aren’t animals that do that. So. So, you know, all all we can do is make comparisons with modern animals that are related, and birds are the closest related animal so. So I mean, that’s, that’s all we can really do. I mean, our, you know, in the movies, all of the behaviors of sea of any of the dinosaurs are fiction. That’s that. I mean, they’re just fiction, that that’s, you know, the I as I, as I say, the only accurate the only accurate depiction of any of any of the dinosaurs in any of the movies, as far as I’m concerned is, is of the Spinosaurus in the water. When we when you see that, when you see the Spinosaurus when it’s been sticking out of the water gets in the water that that that we know Spinosaurus could do,
Dan LeFebvre 14:49
and that’s in the latest movie dominion, right when you see him in the caves.
Jack Horner 14:54
Well, I I’m thinking of jurassic park three. Okay, birds are you see But it’s running around on land that’s wrong. It couldn’t do that.
Dan LeFebvre 15:04
Also is only in the water wasn’t that could go in the water and it was only in the water. Right? Exactly. Oh, okay.
Jack Horner 15:10
It’s a fish eater, it ate fish that didn’t need anything else. It’s it, it is evolved and adapted for eating fish.
Dan LeFebvre 15:20
I guess it wouldn’t be as dangerous in the movies. If it stayed in the water the whole time. Add some fiction to,
Jack Horner 15:27
well, I wouldn’t want to be in the water with it.
Dan LeFebvre 15:32
Speaking of jurassic park three, there’s another concept in that one that gets put forward. And it’s the concept of 3d printing the resonating chamber, they do that for the Velociraptor, they take, basically create a 3d model from the skull, and then they’re able to determine how the dinosaurs would sound. But has that actually been done? Do we know what dinosaurs could sound like?
Jack Horner 15:53
We actually did that, at that that’s based on some stuff we were doing at Montana State University. The engineering program we we CAT scan the skull, it was a duck billed dinosaur skull, not a raptor. We duck we got scanned a duck billed dinosaur skeleton skull and then reconstructed it’s it’s narrow passageway, and then and then simulated air going through it. And, and we could get the pitch of the of the of the sound, but we get out, we couldn’t make the sound obviously he just you’re just going to get the pips so we can determine that the skull we used, which was a juvenile, that it would have produced a high pitch sound, which, of course, high pitch sounds don’t carry very far. And then when we CAT scan, the, the the adults get made it, we could produce an infrasound. So it’s very deep, like an elephant. And sounds like that can carry over very long distances. So those what that that was the research. That was what we determined in the movie. You know, it’s fictionalized, as you know, as making something for a raptor and, and being able to communicate with it. You know, if you just think about it for a moment, you know, in any sound that, you know, if you, you rapid prototype something, and even if it were made a bone, the sound, you know, is, is being produced in a in an in a, in an animal that has skin and muscle over it as well. So you’re not going to get the same sound by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, resonating the bone is not the same as resonating the skull?
Dan LeFebvre 17:47
That’s a good point. I mean, I guess it’s a similar type concept to make sure I understanding it’s similar type concept of, you know, my voice sounds different to me than it does to you. Because it’s it’s,
Jack Horner 17:57
yeah, but just Just imagine, you know, you’re only using a guinea pig in this particular case, you know, we’re we’re rapid prototyping. Not something that is a soft tissue, but actually is something that has a heart, it’s actually this, the cranial bones themselves, without any soft tissue involved. So it’s obviously it’s not going to sound at all like it. But you can get the pitch, you could at least you will know if it’s up if it’s high pitched or low pitched.
Dan LeFebvre 18:31
Kind of going back to something we were talking about earlier. But in jurassic park three, there’s a speech that Dr. Grant gives, where he says, have there not been a cataclysmic event that killed them all off, it’s entirely possible that raptors and not humans would be the dominant species on the planet. So I know it’s it’s kind of a what if question if they were around, but would that be correct? If if they were here? Would could Raptors be the dominant species on the planet? For
Jack Horner 18:54
the well, that’s, I’d say, that’s pretty anthropomorphic of us to think that, that unless you’re intelligent, you’re, you know, you’re a dominant species, you know, I that that’s
Dan LeFebvre 19:10
it’s very hypothetical for
Jack Horner 19:12
you at all. I mean, but that’s you know, that’s a that’s, that did be kind of like a kangaroo saying, you know, if you hop only you can only dominate the world if you hop.
Dan LeFebvre 19:24
I love that analogy. That’s great. After 14 years, the franchise came back in 2015 with Jurassic World, and according to that movie, a lot has changed. And one of the key plot points in that series then starts with they’re designing completely new dinosaurs. Hybrids are being designed by mixing different DNA together to make dinosaurs that are bigger. It’s scarier of course to draw in more crowds. The indominus rex is the big one and that is kind of a cross between a T rex raptor cuddle fish frogs, probably more DNA Like the movie obscures that by calling it top secret? As an advisor on the movie, how involved were you in coming up with a species that could go into a fictional creation like the Indominus? Rex?
Jack Horner 20:12
Well as as I was explaining to Colin DriveNow, this, you know, creating a dinosaur, like a transgenic dinosaur is actually more accurate than it yet is completely accurate, right? I mean, we’ve designed it so. So it’s the perfect, it’s the perfect animal. It’s, it’s more perfect than than the T Rex because the T Rex, we just have its skeleton, and we and we are surmising what the rest of the animal looks like, if you’re genetically added, if you’re genetically making a dinosaur, or any other kind of animal, and you are using transgenics to do it. Not that we know how to do very much transgenics I mean, we but we do do transgenics you know, we make glow fish and things like that. Then, you know, you you make if you could make what you are going to plan to make, it would be perfect, right? I mean, you would know exactly what it was. So indominus rex is the most accurate animal in all those movies.
Dan LeFebvre 21:16
And that’s fascinating. I didn’t I didn’t even think about it that way. And it makes perfect sense, though. Speaking of being an advisor on the movie, since you worked on the first three, of course, you know, the Jurassic Park, and then the first one is released in 1983. The most recent movie 29 years later, are there things that we’ve learned about dinosaurs in almost three decades that have changed how we see them on screen between the initial movie and then the Jurassic World movies now?
Jack Horner 21:46
Oh, absolutely. You know, I mean, we, we knew, you know, when we were making Jurassic Park, we knew that, that the Raptors should be feathered and more colorful. feathers were just, you know, technologically not possible. In 1993. You know, they, like computer graphics used was brand new. And the puppets would have, you know, look silly if they tried to put feathers. So, so, you know, it just, it wasn’t technologically possible. As far as color goes, we know, you know that. We know that dinosaurs were a lot more colorful, and we see him in the movie. But Stephen wanted a scary movie. And so you know, he, he didn’t think colorful dinosaurs be all that scary. Other than the spitter, right, that flashes its colorful frill up you which of course, you know, that is a totally fictionalized dinosaur. Everything is fictional about that dinosaur except its name. Donald Nika is a dinosaur. It’s a very poorly preserved dinosaur. We don’t really know much about it at all. So it was a good one to fictionalize.
Dan LeFebvre 23:07
You get to fill in the holes where you want. Exactly. So we don’t know if that one spit or anything like that, or had any sort of, would it be possible to know if any of them had that sort of a defense mechanism?
Jack Horner 23:19
That that’s just you know, there’s just all total fiction, okay. There’s just no way to know stuff like that.
Dan LeFebvre 23:26
One thing that we see in Jurassic World is the character of Owen Grady. He’s training a pack of raptors, and blue in particular seems to be one that bonds with them. And this helps to reinforce the concept throughout all the movies that’s wrapped, which are especially dangerous that we talked about, too, because of their intelligence. Do we know if they were that smart that it’d be possible to train them? I know, some animals now can be trained easier than others. Would that be the case for Raptors as a species more than other species?
Jack Horner 23:58
Well, you know, they’re, they’re basically you know, they’re related to birds. And we don’t train very many birds to do very many things. You know, imagine trying to train a duck.
Dan LeFebvre 24:11
I can honestly say, I’ve never never imagined that until this moment. I don’t think it would go very well, though.
Jack Horner 24:22
But uh, no, I probably wouldn’t. You know, we just read I don’t really know but but, you know, the brain to body is just looking at the brain to body ratio of about full Philosoraptor like dinosaur the, it’s really no different than, than most ordinary birds. So they do train hawks and animals like that to fetch something, but it’s the behaviors in birds are so different than the behaviors of mammals you know, we are a mammal. And so we, you know, we can kind of bond with other mammals but You know, it’s it’s it’s hard I mean, I had a parent for a while and you know, it didn’t like me so I I couldn’t monde at all with it. The
Dan LeFebvre 25:14
second point I guess it they pick whether or not you’re going to buy
Jack Horner 25:19
Dan LeFebvre 25:22
in fallen Kingdom and other the drastic world we see the island of Isa the new bar have a volcano that wakes up and causes an extinction level event and as movie i Obviously I know that event was made up for the movie. But then as someone who also doesn’t really know about much about what really happened, I kind of assumed that this event was maybe a smaller possibility of what might have actually happened across the globe to call it the dinosaurs. Why do you think the dinosaurs went extinct? Was it because of a natural disaster like a volcano?
Jack Horner 25:58
Well, you know, the current scenario is a meteor. Okay? It is a meteor that hits the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. And, and, you know, it’s a huge Meteor couple of miles long or in diameter. And, and that explosion creates huge, you know, tsunami worldwide. It creates earthquakes that are, you know, nine on the Richter scale worldwide. I mean, it’s just, you know, it’s a, that shakes the world and, and blows a bunch of trees, and all darkening water and all sorts of things into space. And then when all of that stuff returns, you know, get it becomes incandescent, and, and literally starts world fires all over the place. And I mean, the, you know, the scenario is, is extraordinary. And there and it is global. Right? So I mean, it creates problems all over the place. And then there’s a suggestion that, that it also ignites the Deccan Traps on the opposite side of the world, it starts with the bulk of volcanism. And so, you know, if it’s a scenario that, that appears to be, you know, I mean, we definitely know that it happened. And whether it is all that that took to kill the dinosaurs, it’s certainly possible. One of the things that most people don’t realize about dinosaurs, you know, they, when we think about dinosaurs dominated the earth for 150 million years, in in that period of time, they really did not diversify very much. I mean, they, you know, there’s, there’s just a few different kinds, right? I mean, there’s armored dinosaurs, and there’s duck billed dinosaurs, and there’s horned dinosaurs, and there’s long neck dinosaurs, and you know, and then there’s meat eating dinosaurs, there just isn’t very much variety. And if you look at the plant eating dinosaurs, there’s very little feeding diversity. I mean, basically, you know, the, the, the ankylosaurs, the primitive orthopods, the Paki Cephalus ORS the dome had a dinosaur as all, you know, all of these dinosaurs have teeth that look virtually identical, like they’re eating ferns. Right. And, and so there’s not much feeding diversity. And, and without all of that diversity, it gets probably, you know, extinction. Was there a do? I mean, you know, you have a big worldwide event like that. And, and, you know, the survival of life depends on diversity in all different groups of animals. So, whole bunch of animals went extinct. A lot of birds went extinct. But birds were diverse enough, at that point in time, they’re probably feeding on seeds and things like that. And so, you know, they made it mammals were nocturnal, basically living underground. So they did find a crocodile, you know, the cold blooded animals did fine, because they could just, you can, if you ever had a pet snake or something or a turtle or something like they, you know, they, you know, they can go for months without eating anything. So, you know, they’re fine. So, you know, dinosaurs just, I think they were just, they just didn’t have much feeding diversity. And quite frankly, it didn’t. They didn’t. They weren’t very diverse in any aspect of
Dan LeFebvre 29:58
them. Is there something about their It’s something why they didn’t.
Jack Horner 30:01
And they were also, you know, pretty big. I mean, big animals are more vulnerable in an environment that little animals are. So you know, I mean, there’s all of that too. So yeah, cuz you have to eat more. Back, right?
Dan LeFebvre 30:17
Yeah, yeah. Is there something about about dinosaurs that would keep them from diversifying like that, like other types of animals would?
Jack Horner 30:25
Not? Not really. So, it’s one of the, you know, one of the things that, when we think about evolution, and things that actually, you know, pressure organisms into diversifying, oftentimes has to do with call it you know, Decarie. And so, basically, breaking up geography, so that, so that, so that you get, you know, populations in one area in another area, and they can diverge from one another. And the continent of Pangea when it broke up. We ended up with, with sort of, you know, we have, basically all of the dinosaurs were evolving before Pangea broke up. And so, when it broke up during the Triassic period, you had, you know, dinosaurs and Africa and dinosaurs in South America, they’re all related to each other, right. And they do diversify a little bit, but not very much. So, mammal, when we look at mammal populations, and, and the kinds of diversity that we see in mammals, it looks like it’s when, when these isolated populations are separate for a while, and then are brought back together again, so they’re competing with one another, then you, you know, then you see a lot of competition, a lot of things go extinct, and a lot of things adapt. But the dinosaurs, that didn’t happen with the dinosaurs, the continents came apart, that’s about all they did. They didn’t, they came apart, and they didn’t really go back together again, so. So we don’t, we don’t have a lot of populations that are mixing from one place to another to sort of drive this kind of diversity.
Dan LeFebvre 32:27
Speaking of that, with in fallen kingdom, that when I was watching that something that kind of stuck with me, it kind of realized was throughout all the movies, the key part where the parks are where the dinosaurs are cloned or and then thrive, tends to be a hotter climate, a tropical type climate, I think, in new blurts, you know, just off of Costa Rica, we do see a little bit of difference in the in the final film and dominion, we see some of them living in snowy climates alongside elephants in the African sun, so on. But even then, the headquarters in that movie are in the Dolomite mountain range, it’s still a very tropical looking environment, even though they’re surrounded by snowy mountains. Is there a historical reason to why they would have put them in a hotter climate instead of something different?
Jack Horner 33:19
Yes, there is a it is historical, but it’s it’s fictional, historic history, right? It’s fictional history. I mean, that’s where we expect dinosaurs to be as in tropical places, but they lived all over the world, dinosaurs lived all over the world, they live above the Arctic Circle. They lived in Antarctica. I mean, they they lived everywhere. There wasn’t ice, you know, the time they lived in Antarctica, there was palm trees in Antarctica. But, but, but they did live in different environments. And, and, and, and quite frankly, you know, we, the funny thing is, is that tropical environments do not preserve in the fossil record. And so we don’t really have any examples of them living in the tropics, that so it’s just, it’s always funny when you see him in the tropics, because he and even, you know, I mean, most of the environments that we know of, that we have fossil records for are kind of like Louisiana. No, you know, I guess you could call that subtropical, right. It’s warm. You know, I mean, it’s, it would have been warm and humid in most of the places that we do find fossils of dinosaurs. But on the other hand, you know, there was they were living far enough north and far enough south that that there would have been dark spells, you know, for for a couple of months as well. So, so, you know, there it’s the whole the whole tropical thing is It literally is, you know, our expectation of them being in those kinds of environments. It’s kind of like volcanoes, right? I mean, volcanoes probably didn’t erupt any more than they erupt now. But we always want a volcano in the background of our dinosaurs. Right? I mean, we always want to die. Always wondering volcano.
Dan LeFebvre 35:23
Yeah. Earlier, you’re talking about the feathers. And in the latest, the final film, Jurassic World dominion, we do see dinosaurs having feathers. You mentioned it being a technological limitation in the earlier movies. did most of the dinosaurs actually have feathers? Or was it kind of a mix? Because even in the later movies, we see some have feathers, and some do not. We’re pretty certain
Jack Horner 35:46
Well, in the, you know, in the movie, we have to maintain the animals. Remember, they’re cloned back in 1993. So they have to they can’t be changing the way they look in the can’t grow feathers.
Dan LeFebvre 36:02
can’t grow feathers.
Jack Horner 36:06
So the so basically, the dinosaurs in in Dominion that have feathers, you know, they’re they kind of explained that by saying, they did you know, they, they made them pure, right. I mean, they, they didn’t add anything to them. And so, I mean, that’s what dinosaurs would look like. The meat eating dinosaurs. So all of the saurischia and dinosaurs, with the exception of sauropods. In other words, you know, the true meat eating dinosaurs. We’re pretty sure we’re all feathered. So basically, all of the theropod dinosaurs, we’re pretty sure we’re, we’re all all feathered. And we have some indications that some of the ornithischia and dinosaurs the non sauropod plant eaters had some kind of frilly looking stuff that went down the middle of their back, and sometimes in some other areas on their bodies, but but not totally feathered, like we see in the meat eating dinosaurs. And there were there was a study recently done that suggested that that that theropod dinosaurs were actually true warm blooded animals like like, like mammals and that are under the skin dinosaurs were not although I suspect the earth is skin dinosaurs were probably hetero thermic which means that they, they they still generated heat internally just didn’t regulate it quite like we do. We talked about some
Dan LeFebvre 37:50
of the other genetically engineered dinosaurs in the other movies, but here in the final film Jurassic World Dominion that’s the first time that we see the Giganotosaurus. And the movie says that it is the biggest of all dinosaurs. Is that true? Is it really the biggest of all the dinosaurs that we know about?
Jack Horner 38:10
We can tell by looking at the bone histology of animals whether they’re still growing and and all of the T Rex specimens that I’ve seen are all still growing so we know that we’re going to keep finding bigger T rexes Giganotosaurus is a is another one I mean we you know it’s it’s gall is bigger than a T Rex skull when the body is still the same size as a T Rex. So it’s a matter of how you’re going to measure the size of these animals. We don’t you know, we don’t even really know the total length of any dinosaur very well. I mean, there’s might be a few of them that we have the entire skeleton of but we don’t have right many of them. So we you know, we just take wild guesses as to really how long? Or how massive they were we don’t we don’t really even understand the mass of a dinosaur very well, but people still argue about you know about that. Are you going to compare him to a chicken? Are you gonna get him here? bracadale? I mean, what kind of animal are you going to compare him to? So, you know, we just we’re just not really positive, you know? We’re not sure exactly. The mass of an animal or the weight of nm or the length of an animal. Gan Giganotosaurus and T Rex are basically the same size. I mean, they’re both big. But you know when it comes to you know, a big animal that eats meat Spinosaurus eats fish and fish you know any? I don’t mean it’s not vegetable so I’d call it a meat eater. And and spider source is a lot bigger than a T Rex. So and if A lot lot bigger than a Giganotosaurus. So you know, Spinosaurus is the largest flesh eating dinosaur that we know. Wow,
Dan LeFebvre 40:12
wow. And that was in the water?
Jack Horner 40:16
Well, we, you know, we can, you know, we scientists can argue about that too I think they were, I think they were obligate carnivores, which means they ate fish, and they never left the water. But there’s a whole bunch of other scientists that think that one of my friends thinks that they were like a Heron and walked around eaten eating fish out of the water like Aaron does. And, and some of them think that they just went the water once in a while, I don’t know, you know, but they’ve got, they’ve got teeth that had to evolve. Nothing that had to change considerably from the primitive condition to the derived condition used for eating fish. And the fact that that their teeth changed and evolved to, to this, this shape that is, is that we see in all animals that eat fish, tells me that they ate fish, and that they, if you’re going to eat fish, there’s no reason to be running around on the land.
Dan LeFebvre 41:26
You’re not going to find many fish there. And that’s right. What’s one of your favorite stories from your time working on the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies?
Jack Horner 41:36
I don’t really have a favorite story. I mean, I, I enjoyed working on the movie. I enjoyed sitting there with Steven and seeing what he does and see how he does it. He oftentimes would shoot a scene and the jack, would you think of that? And I’d say, but it looked good to me. And he say, No, I was terrible. And then, and then he’d shoot some more, and then he’d shoot for, you know, another whole bunch of times. And then he’d say, this was he said, this was the good one. And no, I can see that it was a lot better. But I can also see that, you know, a fair director could have made a movie with a lot less shooting, right? I mean, and still come out with a pretty good movie. So. So I, you know, just seeing how it’s done was interesting. But, you know, I, it was really, it was boring. To watch. I mean, every, you know, the actors, everybody’s just standing around waiting to do something. Or, I mean, it’s it is definitely not. I just, I wouldn’t trade my job for their job for anything. That wasn’t anybody. There wasn’t anybody in the whole place that I thought had a job that would that I could do would trade dinosaur hunting for. I mean, he just wasn’t I mean, I, the set director, Rick Carter, I mean, he was great. The guy that was, you know, one Jurassic Park. He was a great guy. And he, you know, he was building stuff all the time and making these cool scenes, and it was really cool to see. But, you know, it was all fake too, right? I mean, I mean, it was all made out of Styrofoam. And, you know, and, and you see the, you know, he think about the sea scenes, you know, with the T Rex and all that stuff. I mean, you know, it’s there. If you ever if you watch Jurassic Park, the first one then you see a whole dinosaur that’s a computer graphic. So there’s nothing there. Right. I mean, there’s, you know, you’re just shooting a scene with nothing in it. And and then, you know, if you see part of a dinosaur, it’s an animatronic, and the animatronics are really cool. Stan Winston’s and it’s true. I mean, they, they, they are artists. Boy, they made the coolest dinosaurs ever. But, you know, they’re just pieces of them. So, you know, you’ve seen the foot come down, and in the mud and Drusy it’s a foot, you know, I mean, you know, the Spinosaurus was life size. I mean, it is a gigantic animatronic. Then it was the whole front end of the body. So that was that was pretty cool to see. But like I say, no, they, you know, I was there for jurassic park three, and Joe Johnson was the director. And again, I mean, he’s a good friend, but I was bored to death. I mean, if it’s the same thing over and over and over again, I just I would go out and walk around to the other studios and see what else was going on. Or somebody else was shooting. I just, you know, behind, not my cup of tea. I like I liked the movie. I liked the end. I like to see it you know when it’s done. But you can’t even tell if you can watch the whole making of the movie and still not know what it’s about. I mean, unless you’ve read the storyboard, looked at the storyboards to see what it is There’s no way to tell even when they’re shooting what its gonna look like because they don’t shoot everything in order.
Dan LeFebvre 45:06
They call it movie magic for a reason, I guess.
Jack Horner 45:09
Yeah. But you know, I admire Mahler they do a great job. I am entertained when I watch a movie or see see something on TV or something on, it’s impressive, but I don’t want to do it myself.
Dan LeFebvre 45:25
What’s one of the more common misconceptions about dinosaurs that you think would surprise people?
Jack Horner 45:30
Like I say, We scientists argue over all kinds of trivial stuff, you know, whether T Rex was a scavenger predator, you know, all sorts of things. To this day, that his students can still have to convince people that dinosaurs and people didn’t live together.
Dan LeFebvre 45:49
Yeah, that’s fair, that I mean, I’m sure movies like Jurassic Park, don’t always help that, I mean, I’m sure they help in some ways, but in other ways, because it is showing dinosaurs and humans together.
Jack Horner 46:01
You know, I, you know, we’re, we’ve been finding feathered dinosaurs for a long time. But most you know, most people don’t know that they’re feathered. And, and most people, you know, their idea of what a dinosaur looks like, is based on Jurassic Park, it’s, it’s based on anything. And those dinosaurs, I mean, they’re just completely out of date. They’re, you know, just just not what they really look like. But it’s, you know, better than nothing.
Dan LeFebvre 46:29
That’s true. I mean, what, but 30 years or so, between the first movie and the latest one. So it has had a huge impact on a lot of people’s opinions on dinosaurs over the time. And I’m sure it will continue to influence generations to come. And yet, as it’s the nature of movies to people can watch the very same movie, you walk out of it with very different impression. So with that in mind, what what an impression of dinosaurs? Do you want future generations who watch these movies who want to learn more about dinosaurs? What do you want them to walk away with?
Jack Horner 47:05
Well, you know, it’s the same thing with with anything in nature, you know, I mean, you know, just just being amazed by them as is quite something in and being curious about them and wanting to go to a museum and learn more about them and see it, you don’t see their real bones. I mean, that’s, you know, we, there are a lot of great museums all over the world, and displaying, basically all of the new science about dinosaurs, and I die and just encourage people to get to the museum and see stuff. Yeah, it’s a great, great way to learn
Dan LeFebvre 47:44
more, for sure. Well, thank you so much for coming on to chat about the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies. I know, we’ve been talking about the movies themselves, and you but you do a lot outside of the silver screen. So for someone listening to this, who wants to help support your work? Can you give them an overview of what to working on and where they can learn more?
Jack Horner 48:03
Well, I, I’m working on all sorts of things. I’m try I said he dinosaur growth and behavior. But I also, you know, working with artist, Fabio Pastore in Italy, trying to reconstruct what I think dinosaurs look like. And they’re much more colorful than, than what you see in the movies. And, and we have recently released some NF T’s. And they’re, you know, they’re, they’re beautiful, and in the dinosaurs that we’re creating are beautiful. And I think dinosaurs were beautiful. I think they were I don’t think they were just big, gray, clunky creatures, I think they were you know, they gave rise to birds and, and, and birds got their coloration and they got their dances and they got their singing, they got all of that from their ancestors and their ancestors were dinosaurs. So So I think, you know, if we ever are able to really depict these animals as they were as living creatures, we’re going to see them extremely different than we envisioned. Imagine them right now based on you know, Louise,
Dan LeFebvre 49:26
thank you again so much for your time.