Version Numbers Exist in the Film Universe – An Editorial

I hate to say this, but when people are looking at the aspect of the changes between the Velociraptors and Pteranodons between the films they want to state they “evolved” because of an advertisement in the trailer mentioning evolution. Further, if someone were to use the trailers as a point to make, I’d also like to point one promotional spot referred to JP3 as taking place on “a new island”, which it took place on Sorna. Some have stated that the change in Raptors was due to creator input. While true, the creators have given us no real direction other than the following: “subtle changes to Velociraptor.” – Jack Horner (Making of JP3 Featurette). Notice, nothing about evolution. ”Velociraptor is back in a way we’ve never seen.” — Stan Winston (Making of JP3 Featurette), and from the man himself nothing here. I’d also like to point out, as per the film commentary on JP3, it was pointed out by Stan Winston and crew that they tried to correct the mistake of having a JP3 Raptor in Grant’s dream sequence by trying to grey the animal out. They intended it to be like the original Raptors in JP and TLW. Both Raptor species are considered consistent and co-habitating on Sorna in the films and the likewise holds true for Pteranodons. Further, this needs to be said in regards to the coloration changes between JP and TLW animals:

“We had to design new paint schemes not only for the new dinosaurs, but for some of the already-designed dinosaurs from the last movie,” Winston explained, “because now there were male dinosaurs, as well as females; and typically in nature the males of any species are far more brightly colored. We also wanted to make sure that the audience would be able to tell the males and females apart. It was a great of fun to run the gamut of color and come up with interesting designs. The colors on the females for the first film had been fairly subdued; but with male animals, there were may more possible colorations.” (Duncan, “The Making of The Lost World: Jurassic Park” 25)

The general idea for JP3 stated is that Velociraptor received subtle changes to the skull and changed it to fit what “they knew” about the animal now with the most “recent discoveries” and to include feathers per what Jack Horner said from the Making of JP3 documentary. To further press the point of version numbers, there is even a scene in the original novel, in the chapter ‘Version 4.4.,’ in which Henry Wu remarks that the animals need to be changed in order to conform to the public perception of dinosaurs:

“I really think you should consider my recommendations for phase two. We should go to Version 4.4”
“You want to replace all the current stock of animals?” Hammond said.
“Yes, I do.”
“Why? What’s wrong with them?”
“Nothing,” Wu said, “except that they’re real dinosaurs.”
“That’s what I asked for, Henry,” Hammond said, smiling. “And that’s what you gave me.”
“I know,” Wu said. “But you see…” He paused. How could he explain this to Hammond? Hammond hardly ever visited the island. And it was a peculiar situation that Wu was trying to convey. “Right now, as we stand here, almost no one in the world has ever seen an actual dinosaur. Nobody knows what they’re really like.”  (Crichton p. 122)

The idea is that InGen would alter their dinosaurs in order to suit the public opinion of the dinosaurs if they had to, at least in the universe of the novels. In the film universe logic would stand to reason that InGen‘s process was always under constant refinement as indicated by the dinosaur fetuses present in the third film. As evidenced in the films numerous times the dinosaurs were genetic manipulations that were the result of the public perception of dinosaurs at that point in time, thus theme-park monsters, as said by Dr. Alan Grant in the third film. We can tell this not only in the differences from the Velociraptors between the first, second and third films but in the differences between the Pteranodons seen in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park ///. Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs clearly have some shortcomings when compared to their real life counterparts. For example, most modern theropods are considered feathered and assuredly all lack the rotated ulna and pronated hands present in the film series.

So how do we know there were version numbers? What evidence is there for this? Well first off let’s look at the in-film snap to your left. Notice where the red circle is, that’s your version number right there. For those who have trouble seeing it reads: “2.05″ for the Stegosaurus (incorrectly spelled Stegasaurus) embryo. Part of any process in anything is placing it under constant revision. These dinosaurs, being a science project themselves, indicated in the films were under constant revision by InGen. We can safely assume that some of the science from the novel canon obviously carries over in some capacity otherwise there would be no film/plot in this instance. So the question is how do we know for certain? We take a look at Jurassic Park /// next to see evidence of the revision process.

To your right you’re seeing the aborted fetus of two dinosaurs seen in the Embryonics Administration scene along with a prop used in the production. These are obviously failed attempts at the dinosaurs that InGen studied to learn more about their process, likely to refine/revise how they were producing dinosaurs. These would not likely exist if the process was either squeaky clean (which would be unrealistic) or not under constant revision to make the “perfect” theme park inhabitant. Thus variation and the carry over of version numbers do in fact translate over into the film end of the continuity.

I hope this proves the points for version numbers and it’s not a fan theory as there is sufficient evidence to back up this claim. Version numbers do exist in the films and they do exist in the franchise as a whole in the various iterations of Jurassic Park.

References

  • “Jurassic Park”. 1993. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Universal Pictures Studio.
  • “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. 1997. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Universal Pictures Studio.
  • “Jurassic Park III”. 2001. Directed by Joe Johnston. Universal Pictures Studio.
  • “Jurassic Park Universal Studios Hollywood” Video Presentation. 1994. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Universal Pictures
  • “Beyond: Jurassic Park” Special Edition DVD. 2001. Various. Universal Pictures.
  • “Jurassic Park: The Game” Video Game. 2011. Various. TellTale Games.
  • Shay, Don; Duncan, Jody “Making of Jurassic Park” Copyright 1993. Published by Ballantine Books. New York
  • Duncan, Jody “Making of The Lost World: Jurassic Park” Copyright 1997. Published by Ballantine Books. New York
  • Crichton, Michael. “Jurassic Park”. Copyright 1990. Published by Ballentine Books.

 

Jurassic Park: The Game – Canonical Analysis

Canon separation is something that is paramount in the Jurassic Park franchise due to the fact of the contradictions present between media as it adds depth to the story line that we know and love. Why is this a big deal? It is imperative to any story to maintain cohesion between media and control contradictory elements via retroactive continuity whenever contradiction is present. Further it is supported by Michael Crichton’s own words while in an interview on the “Jurassic Park Phenomenon” on the Behind the Scenes features of the DVD/Blu-Ray that the novels and films are separate continuities from one another. There is also evidence to showcase the comics, junior novelizations, and video games being separate and functional continuities due to their contradictory nature to the films. Jurassic Park: The Game, looks like it could be the game changer for all of this though. The burning question at this point is whether or not Jurassic Park: The Game is actually in-line with the film continuity. While the debate in our Encyclopedia Project forum is still going on about the exact level of canocity and jurisdiction the game itself has overall. The general consensus is that it is in the S/F family and our true first example of Expanded Park media that supplements to, instead of subtracting from, the franchise. The game is not without problems as there are inconsistencies and we’ll briefly go over those first and then look at what the game truly adds to the Jurassic Park mythos afterward.

Gerry Harding – Similar appearances/Slight changes.

Gerry Harding in the film was played by Jurassic Park producer Gerald R. Molen. The film appearance has one thing working in favor of it; Gerry is concealed by a hat and and sunglasses. So this makes his look “diguised” but the facial structure though on his video game counterpart – while similar – is more lithe. The appearance in the film is a bit-part; so establishing character or a direction of a character is left up to the game. For characterization we have little to nothing to go off of for the film-continuity family. The game has total control in regards to this on that note. This brings us to the contradiction possibly in appearances.

In the game Gerry Harding is shown mostly having a similar, but not exact, likeness as his film counter-part. Above is an image comparing the two and be the judge for yourself. The mustache, lack thereof, in the game is not fully explained sadly – but allegedly from TellTale reps on their forum “he shaved”, but we do have a conundrum here involving the sequence where we are first introduced to Jess and Gerry in Episode One and it is indicated this is before Gerry goes to treat the sick Triceratops, before the arrival of Drs. Grant, Malcolm, Sattler, and Donald Gennaro. So the issue here is the possible passing of time, the sky looks to be either early morning. The Jeep we see through Jess’s binoculars is being intended for use by Drs. Grant, Malcolm, and Sattler from the first film, but it remains stationary. As to when this scene in particular takes place during the first film is open for debate, but it is suspected before our film heroes arrive on the island. These issues could probably be identified as a flub and therefore within a reasonable error margin, as they are not completely altering continuity of events, just the appearance is slightly different of the character, but we know overall who the character is.

Isla Nublar – Road Issues, Possible Fourth Dilophosaurus Paddock, Map Update, and Answers to Questions Asked A Long Time Ago.

The original Joel Meine Map

The biggest thing is the new map TellTale made on their site in an effort to promote the game. Allegedly Joel Meine’s work was put to use here. Now I want to mention while the JPL map is based loosely around Joel’s efforts; the original Nublar map done by Joel was inaccurate as it included elements from various canons (Novel/Film/Junior Novelization) hybrid along with the Jurassic Newsletters, which while offering a decent amount of information are mostly doomed to be a real-world bridge to promote the film. Presently at the time of writing this the newsletters are under re-evaluation and may have the locations that were suggested on the current JPL map, removed (Iguanodon Inn, Golf Course, etc.). Joel was not that far off with his original map, but the problem comes from the fact that Joel added in a Southwest paddock grouping that wasn’t there, also the land in the southern peninsula was wider when compared to a topographical map from the film from the control room, further it lacked the proper location of the Gallimimus paddock as the paddock was erroneously added to be combined with the Brachiosaurs and Parasaurolophus territory. It may sound as if I am unappreciative of Joel taking the time he did to invest in creating a functional map; it’s quite the contrary actually! Joel did a wonderful job and Joel even – as a result – got us thinking about maps and overall how to make a functional map and he deserves honest credit for that.

TellTale based their map off of the original brochure map featured in the film, with a few additions/alterations here and there. By no means does it serve as an exact scale for where things are, but it is considered a somewhat general guide of where things/events are placed.

Submitted for the approval is the original brochure map with comparison of the TellTale map. TellTale makes some adjustments to the position of the paddocks, additional areas, and the tour road. This isn’t completely off, really, and locations are generally within the same area, save for a few exceptions which make it a bit more consistent with the Paddock shutdown map. So in essence this is within the error margin we originally determined back when we did our own Isla Nublar map of “generalization”. The Nublar map will always be a point of contention from the way the roads and locations are listed from the official prop brochure and the actual representation in the film as a result of the contradictory nature, and error between props. For something more specific you would look at the maps shown in the control room, which is the perspective we take when it comes to the production of our map. These are the proposed changes, in addition to the current Nublar map.

The JPL Map – Current Version

Proposed Isla Nublar changes.

The only way for Nima’s prologue sequence to make sense is she had to have crossed a road in a panic (running west) and then got chased by the creepy Troodons (running North) before being ran up an incline, over a cliff, then falling down, and being hit (or narrowly missed) by the Hardings in the spot with the red dot. Gerry decides it’s best for Nima to be treated back at the Visitor’s Center, so they make the long trek back by taking Service Roads, coming onto the same road that Muldoon and Ellie took to the abandoned tour cars, before forking (additional road added) to go onto a tour road not utilized by the tour program just yet.

So why the deviation? For one if they were to be speeding off with an injured woman in the car it would show a really bad impression for Hammond’s tour group if they ran into them. Further, this would allow Gerry, Jess, and Nima to avoid running into the Rex Attack sequence almost akin to a narrow miss. Now, yes, I did say there is an additional service road added in to where the Tyrannosaurus paddock is and this is because this is the only way this scene can make sense as the other brings us out RIGHT where the tour cars are, which at this point Gerry and Jess are ignorant as to what’s going on as seen later when they approach the baby Triceratops, Bakhita, outside of her paddock. We’re not new to the concept of adding a trail or road in here and there to these maps, but we try not to be careless with them – it has to functionally work for the scenes to make sense when there is no other alternative. We had to do this for Nedry’s sequence in order for it to make sense, too!

Now, one of the roads we once considered a service road is now a tunneled tour road. The reason for these two roads is actually a matter of inconsistency between the more rounded road here and the more zig-zagged road here (which is what we used for our original map). This leads into the Tyrannosaurus paddock and may effect the Rex’s known range somewhat (not a big deal). So now we reach the cool part: What Telltale had ingeniously done though is give us a means to explain one of the biggest head-scratchers ever on the film, and that’s on how the tour cars got turned around. If the round-about to turn the cars around is in the Dilophosaurus Paddock (This is a secondary paddock as the primary is just after the entrance. This secondary Dilophosaurus Paddock comes from the Shutdown Sequence, while the primary is on the CD-ROM Tour map), why did Grant, Gennaro, Malcolm, and kids go back through the Rex Paddock? The answer is that converted service road to a tour road with a tunnel on it. Hammond’s Visitors finish seeing the Sick Trike, the cars pulled forward, then reverse direction to go back around the way they came. So here we sit, a means to an end that properly explains something that was a bit convoluted on the original Control Room map. As a result the Sick Triceratops sequence is moved further north, which seems to fit with the topography we were anticipating as the original placement was a general educated guess. This works better for, also, quarantine reasons for the Sick Triceratops from the rest of the herd also given their now over-protective nature of the alpha.

We also had to move the Desalinization Plant further north, which is expressed by Dr. Sorkin in the game as being “a cover for the Marine Facility where the project itself would move into Phase B”. More about this later.  In addition, the North Dock is shown to more or less be the arrival/departure point of visitors to InGen’s Jurassic Park facility, which makes sense for there being two docks – one a supply dock and the other a Visitor dock – even if it is borrowed from the novel. Now this brings us to the next point since the East Dock is primarily the point to receive supplies/personnel for the island.

Do some of the service roads hold an electronic tour track for transport/maintenance access of vehicles? Let’s note that in the beginning sequence of the game when Nima narrowly misses the jeep after being bitten by the Troodon we don’t see a tour road track, but later when it shows us the point of view of Jess and Gerry we see a sort of track involved. Not a major deal, but this is probably an oversight. Also, during the scene between Jess, Nima, and Gerry on the road where Gerry is checking Nima to see if she’s alive, the “road track” around them disappears and re-appears in the next sequence. I would surmise if there is a track there it’s maybe used to move the cars around in case of a break down, maybe? Or some service roads had a tour track for that reason? Keep in mind this is also allegedly near or about at the same road Dennis Nedry took to get off the island. Why didn’t we see a track in the film? Considering the road as part of the same route as Nedry took does mean we have to ponder ‘why no tour track?’ Visibility in heavy rain is limited and we do have a tropical storm going on, so the water flow could have obscured this from our vision. A more tedious analysis of this sequence is planned, but for now we know the Hardings were en-route to the dock and this is an approximate of where the scene could have or did take place.

Further, we may have an additional Dilophosaurus paddock, possibly.  Near Nedry’s death after Miles and Nima cut through the jungle they reach an electric fence of sorts. There is a sign after they cross over the fence (and out of their field of vision) that indicates possible Dilophosaurus territory. This is a tricky retcon aside from the ol’ “throw another Dilophosaurus paddock next to the tour road” thing we’ve been doing with the previous other scenarios when there’s a contradiction in Dilophosaurus placement. (See “Shutdown Sequence“, “Tour Map“, “CD-ROM Map“, and “Film” for examples of road placements/contradictions and Dilo Paddock Placement.) A fourth is not that far of a stretch since a tour road is near that location and there’s some space that could be accounted for in regards to the jungle river cruise, but again this sign could also be a warning to workman that “said carnivore” is nearby and that way if they see the animal they can easily identify and report the issue to their superior. We do need a further investigation into this matter, but for now this fourth Dilophosaurus pen is on debate status and ergo not included.

The Scenic Point on the tour indicates a possible rest stop. Topography shows it overlooking an area where you see mountains and a fence behind.  Placement could be by the Dilo paddock unless there’s another rest station up further north we didn’t know about. There’s a fence behind them during this sequence. This could fit where our rest stop is and a perimeter fence, but it’s in a proximity that should be close to the Marine Facility. I placed it here, also, due to the fact that you hear the tour car mention Dilophosaurus as well, and I would presume that’s an indication they’re by the Dilophosaurus paddock. I have added the tunnel that the car comes out of, but what’s of interest is that the car comes from the opposite direction compared to where we saw the original tour – this still could be a reversal of the tour program at some point. Other points of interest will also be added in time, but for now this is strictly preliminary.

Some may see the roads and topography issues here and ask, “what do we believe?” The problem is, even the film suspends the belief on topography and it doesn’t really match up totally to the topographical map of the island that is known from the control room. Player experience in the game is also taken into account here as well, as it may seem shorter for more skilled players to make it through the scene. We base our decisions on good old fashioned intelligent thought and deductive reasoning at this point, attempting to make logical conclusions, in essence, from what we see. The roads and topography are close, but not exact when you dig too deep down the well in a manner of speaking. It’s not the production design as a whole, but all the same, when it comes to the films and the game, they have these same inconsistencies as a byproduct of attempting to establish themselves loyally. The thing with the JP film-canon is that it functions on a sense of generalization. “This generally looks like it works,” as it were, and we keep this in mind a lot.

Arnold’s Incredibly, Super Long Name?

Apparently Samuel L. Jackson’s character, John “Ray” Arnold, has one super long name. TellTale, as an oversight possibly, has given Ray Arnold the name of “Ray Allen Arnold”. Evidence comes from Sorkin’s journal is when she is discussing the Geothermal Power Plant. In essence this makes this now officially, when taking The Lost World Boardroom scene into account, “John RayAllen Arnold”. Not a big issue, but this is a bit of an oversight with an easy and possible quick retcon by saying he’s got a super-long name. Ironically the name “Ray-Allen” can be hyphenated as well, too.

Dinosaurs: Park Compatibility, More than Fifteen Species, JP3 Pteranodons on Nublar, & Sorkin’s Parasaurolophus and Velociraptors

So we now have Troodon and Mosasaurus added to our species list. How is this explained? Simply put, InGen has to authorize anything that goes on the list. This concept was explored in the third film to explain the sudden appearance of the Spinosaurus. This is the first time, EVER, someone has bothered to explain the appearances of additional animals on Isla Nublar with an actual logical reason that can be bought with it though. The comics, published by Topps, neither explained nor bothered to show the reasons why for additional animals. Of course, at the time, Topps was under the impression that Nublar was the only island with dinosaurs on it. In-Universe, InGen/Hammond apparently has to authorize animals to be on the specimen list for the park, and the embryo available in the Visitors Center Genetics Lab for mass production. This introduces a concept for additional animals on Nublar and mentions that some animals could be introduced in Phase B time (e.g., Mosasaurus) while some animals like Troodon have been completely quarantined with intention of being retired.

A question of coloration comes up in regards to Sorkin’s Parasaurolophus population that she released that are basically “Lysine Contingency Free” and possibly able to breed. The coloration is an in-between of what we see as a duller version of the of the male Parasaurolophus from the second film, with some coloration patterns similar (especially striped/blotches) of the females from the first film. The coloration patterns shown here are similar to the appearance of the Parasaurolophus found on the Jurassic Park Rides, which are believed to be female. Another feature that sets Sorkin’s Parasaurolophus aside from the others featured is the fact the model shows it is much bulkier in size. The problem is the Parasaurolophus featured in TLW/JP3 are not bulky and every one shown is identified as male. The male coloration pattern is also now, as a result of the feature in The Lost World, widely ignored by media. Sorkin’s Parasaurolophus may be another case of another version number that she created to be free of Wu’s alterations, but it does require further investigation as we know very little about the Parasaurolophus coloration in terms of the stylistic quality of the females due to the limited appearance of the Parasaurolophus in the first film. What we do know about the females from the first film is they have a very dull greyish/blue/green appearance and some have stripes and blotches on them with alternating patterns. The camera angle is wide in this sequence and the animals are a blur as a byproduct in this scene making identification a hit and a miss.  ILM snuck the animal in, basically, for the first film after the sequence involving a lengthier appearance was dropped. ILM made this same decision to sneak the Pteranodons into The Lost World for the ending of the second film.

It would appear, also, that the JP3 Pteranodons are the inhabitants of choice for Isla Nublar, which could imply a similar genesis to that of the Cearadactylus from the novels, seeing how the behavior is similar. This would make it likely that the Pteranodons in The Lost World could have possibly, in fact, been produced by InGen for a safer “more theme park friendly” environment. This speculative jump comes from certain elements of the game covering theme park compatibility as seen with the Troodons not being included in the island’s inhabitants list, and the Mosasaurus pending approval as well in some capacity. The argument of park compatibility can also go towards the Velociraptors as well in regards to the differences between V. nublarensis and V. sornaensis.

The Velociraptors do make a return appearance and, supposedly, these are from Sorkin’s stock as well. It is alleged in Sorkin’s journal that she kept a private breeding population in the former Raptor Paddock where Grant and the kids discovered the egg shells. It’s also implied that some may have been in the Quarantine Pens as well. Sorkin also alleges, due to the shortcuts involved in the cloning process, the InGen Velociraptor is actually V. mongoliensis, but it is the size of Deinonychus from the mutation. There is some issue with this when considering the preliminary skull analysis on the JP Velociraptors, and comparing them to Deinonychus and Velociraptor respectively. The preliminary report we are working on shows more of an appearance akin to Deinonychus. Further, the image above is a piece of concept art mentioning the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park as Deinonychus as well as showcasing a black and white view of the coloration pattern intended for the film. The physical appearance otherwise is the same as the film counter-part. As for the retcon, I believe in this case it could be Sorkin’s bitter resentment towards Wu and InGen itself entering into the situation, but that is a possible theory at this point to counter a bit what’s stated in Sorkin’s journal. It’s also a logical jump in speculation, given Sorkin’s attitude and disposition she would blame everything on Wu due to his short-cutting on the cloning process or the various. For now the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park are to still be recognized as Deinonychus.

Changes in the Timeline/Expansion of Events

Apparently Dr. Sorkin was Hammond’s original creator of the animals before he brought on Henry Wu. Dr. Sorkin had shown she could extract DNA from the mosquitos trapped in amber. How does this work? There is the fact that it’s never been explicitly stated in the films that Wu created the animals actually, so no contradictions exist here. Essentially the story goes InGen needed to maintain control of their creations (lysine contingency), speed up the time to replicate the animals to get the park open (utilizing frog DNA), and they also knew Dr. Sorkin would not cooperate on either of these points. It is also shown that Dr. Sorkin had different plans for Nublar and turning it into a true biological preserve instead of what Hammond intended as a theme park. Sorkin also further wanted to spend time and also a load of company money painstakingly restoring the animals with a full genome. InGen and Dr. John Hammond, as a solution to Sorkin’s insistance, brought on Dr. Henry Wu to basically complete Sorkin’s work. As a result of Wu’s tampering, the animals are not true dinosaurs and do have anomalies present in their physical appearance and behavior much to Sorkin’s displeasure. Dr. Sorkin says in her journal she is working on fixing the mutations caused by Wu’s negligence and correcting a counter-reaction to the lysine contingency in addition to the issues with the mutations. The new time line will look like this.

1982-1987: “Fifteen years ago John Hammond had a dream.” John Hammond begins laying the ground work for International Genetic Technologies out of Palo Alto, California with further locations and operations in Europe and San Diego, CA. (From InGen Handbook part of the JP:Deluxe Edition). InGen is established and built up a rapport in the global economy in 1985 before moving to clone extinct animals. Hammond hires Dr. Laura Sorkin for a proof of concept and shows InGen that extinct DNA can be extracted from mosquitos trapped in amber. Hammond establishes Isla Sorna as a research outpost for production of the animals and San Diego for the theme park location due to the world-famous San Diego Zoo being local to it. Hammond also begins funding Grant’s research at some point . Wu is eventually brought on and begins working with Sorkin. Wu’s successful with cloning dinosaurs in an efficient manner beating out Sorkin’s time bids. Sorkin becomes resentful and a pain to InGen from this point on. After producing a reasonable stock of dinosaurs (possibly) InGen/Hammond decides to abandon the concept of Jurassic Park San Diego and look a little closer to an island near the operations in the South Pacific.

1988-May/June 1993: Operations move to Nublar in approximately 1988 after the San Diego idea for the park is abandoned and began leasing Nublar from the government. Subsequently, as a result of leasing Nublar from the government Oscar, Nima, and their tribe are removed from Isla Nublar by the Costa Rican government. Sorkin still remains on with InGen and gets her field lab on Nublar in an effort to show she can still be of use by correcting Wu’s mistakes. Building continues on Isla Nublar until Jophery, a gatekeeper, is significantly injured (or killed) by a Velociraptor during a transfer to the holding pen. Major construction comes to a halt on Isla Nublar leaving many structures unfinished until Hammond receives endorsements from outside opinions. It is at this time Drs. Grant, Sattler-Degler, and Malcolm are all approached to come and give their opinion on the park.

June 11th/12th-1993:  The events of Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: The Game take place.

It’s kind of a rough idea at the moment of the possible chain of events, but for the most part the new timeline does fit within the confines of the original film time line and makes an honest attempt to expand events we already knew or predicted from the films.  We know that Dr. Sorkin’s lab is geographically cut off from the rest of the island with the capability of performing scientific research on the animals independently also and this is explained where she is during the events of the first film.

Worker & Animal Relations

 

One thing I think is cool about JP:TG is how TellTales shows us worker relations at Jurassic Park from radio station DJ’ing over the intercoms to company politics. It’s nice to see so much detail invested into this. Even the staff members name the dinosaurs and that alone is a plus point. If anything, InGen was more fleshed out as an actual business establishment instead of how it was portrayed in The Lost World: Jurassic Park as a greedy corporation. It makes InGen, as a corporate entity a bit more redeemable and realistic.

Underground Tunnels & Geothermal Power

It is shown that Isla Nublar has underground/maintenance access tunnels to move personnel, equipment and even supplies across the island. The tunnels themselves do not connect directly to the Visitors Center or Sorkin’s Lab just yet, but they are everywhere. This has been suspected for a while, but now it’s a confirmation that they do exist. As to when we’re including underground facilities on our map? That’s a discussion going on in staff at the moment. We also need to determine the path of the tunnels. This screen shot to the right is a good start to investigating map viability. We also know power is supplied to InGen’s operation on Jurassic Park via Geothermal Power, which is located close to Dr. Sorkin’s lab.

The Results – Do we have a viable extension of the franchise?

It is nice to see the adventure return to Isla Nublar in regards to a story continuation that makes itself consistent with the cutscene from the beginning of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. We know the cutscene is canon to the film series as it is constantly re-included in releases of the film on DVD/Blu-Ray and even television airings of the film. The entire adventure offered by TellTale does leave me feeling like we got that worthy Jurassic Park 1.5 to accurately explain what happened to Isla Nublar in the end.

In terms of continuity issues what we are presented with aren’t terrible enough to discredit the game from placement within the film-canon universe. In fact, the issues are merely oversights or things that can easily be explained as flubs. Flubs themselves are present within the film series as well too from sequel to sequel ranging from changes in Velociraptor and Pteranodon appearances on down to small little prop issues here and there. The only two major flubs here with Jurassic Park : The Game are the issues with location placement per the TellTale version of the map, adding to the plethora of flubby maps, and Gerry Harding’s changed physical appearance. At the moment the “Jurassic Park: The Game” is in essence deserving to be included as a member of the S/F continuity family. The general consensus at the moment on that subject is that it cannot nor should it overturn the films canon of what’s already been established. In essence this makes it a supplemental canon as a result subservient to the film’s own canon “laws” of sorts, which it abides by throughout save for the few issues pointed out in this article. The issues present are seen as expansions of thought where an explanation for any continuity oversights can be found and applied easily onto the for retroactive continuity issues. Author intent does have a lot to do with the decision we make, but the facts way heavily upon the attention to detail within and we acknowledge we are not the official voice on this. We only analyze and report our findings!

As to the point if anything TellTale’s venture in the JP franchise only expands and creates it’s own immersive story that yes leads you to feel like you’re directing an animated JP feature that expands the story. We know Telltale has honestly done their research and even it was stated to me back in February they were browsing the encyclopedia on the site here for information. So we know some of our own research helped them. It’s just a shame we didn’t receive a nod in the game’s credits for our research being utilized though, and that while regrettable is being made right from what I hear after speaking to them. TellTale though has paid close attention to us in their blog, facebook, and Twitter and we appreciate the coverage and working with them whenever possible to provide coverage. This had no determination or bearing on the status of the game and so allow me to say, professionally, this is not nor will it ever effecting our decision – what governs that is cold hard fact and data analysis involved. Once again, thank you TellTale for making a game that fits within the S/F-canon alignment. We look forward to expanding our own encyclopedia with information to bring more people to experience this awesome return to Jurassic Park.

 

 

The Lost World Hypothesis: Part 3

This is the final installment of a multi-part entry into the process and pains of the creation of JPL’s map of Isla Sorna.  Eventually these entries will be merged into one article and made part of the Encyclopedia.

 

Jurassic Park III is, to put it simply, a cluster of plot holes and contradictions.  The most significant of these is the fact that Ben and Eric para sail into the island.  Then Ben’s body is found (still attached to the para sailing harness and hanging from the tree he landed in) in the center of the island.  If anyone can explain how Ben was able to reach the center of the island from an initial gliding height of only a few hundred feet, well we would love to hear it.  Then there’s the fact that (based on not only the actual location used for filming but also a quick shot in the film itself) the landing strip is actually less than a mile from the coast.  You know; the coast that Alan Grant was so intent on everyone getting to quickly?  Yeah.  They walked in the opposite direction of that coast.

And of course in The Lost World: Jurassic Park we are told time and time again that the coast is relatively safe and devoid of carnivores, yet in Jurassic Park III Eric insists that “the closer you get to water the bigger things get.”  Granted Brachiosaurus is both an herbivore and one of the largest things on the island, but by Eric’s tone he seems to be referring to dangerous carnivores.

If I seem bitter, well it’s because I am.

But nevertheless, some sort of map had to be drawn for the film, so we did our best to make a map that made sense.  Unfortunately, this meant either taking out specific “in film evidence” (which we did not want to do) or breaking any sense of reality that the film tries to hold on to (which was an even worse proposition).  Thus, on our map Ben and Eric para sail for approximately five miles before finally landing (perhaps they caught an updraft?) and the landing strip is not situated next to the coast (though we did attempt to put it near a water source, partly because a mile-long runway wouldn’t fit anywhere else).  For its credit there are certain parts of the film, such as the location where the plane holding Alan and the Kirbys enters, which flow together well on the map.  However these are few and far between.

Some discrepancy exists in reference to the large rocks seen in the opening shot.  Once believed to be either of the two large outcroppings seen on the map it was eventually realized that the rocks in the film are much smaller, on the order of a few pixels wide on the scale we were working with.  Because of this it was decided that the props crew likely wouldn’t have bothered to place these rocks on the map, since they are not large enough to represent a topographical feature.

 

The film opens with the Dino-Soar boat on the western-side of the island, traveling around the coast clockwise.  Eventually they release Ben and Eric on their para sail and travel into a fog.  During this time the boat is attacked by an unseen animal, killing both captains and leaving Ben and Eric to crash into a small reef or outcropping.  Hoping not to crash (which would send their para sail straight into the water) Ben unhooks Eric and himself from the boat and steers the para sail toward the nearest dry land; Isla Sorna.  They slip between some mountains and begin heading inland, catching an updraft or two before finally crashing in a group of trees just a few hundred feet from a raptor nesting area (Velociraptor “antirrhopus sornaensis”).  Eric is able to land relatively safely and turn off the camera just before the raptors attack, driving Eric away and killing Ben.  Eric eventually makes home base a few miles away in an abandoned water truck.

The rocks visible in the opening shot of Jurassic Park III.

The Dino-Soar boat as it travels in a clockwise direction around the island. To the left is the same mountain that Ben and Eric later glide behind.

Eight weeks later Paul and Amanda Kirby have come together to search for their son, lying to and kidnapping Dr. Alan Grant and his assistant Billy Brennan.  The plane they have chartered approaches Isla Sorna from the north.  The path the plane takes would actually have taken them straight past the western coast; however the plane makes a sharp turn left (toward the east) and enters the island from the same location as the first shot of the film.  The plane travels further inland until eventually turning left around a mountain and heading north above an open plain.  Nash spots a landing strip ahead and to the left of the plane.  After Grant is knocked out by Cooper the plane circles the island before coming to land at Site B’s landing strip.

The chartered plane as it turns left (to the east) toward the island's western coast. Note the valley directly to the plane's left; this is where it enters (and the first shot of the island in the film).

The plane as it passes by the large rocks on its way into the island. Note that while large in relation to a plane they are not on the order of "miles wide."

The plane as it turns left (toward the north) around a mountain side.

After the Spinosaurus attack the plane is left crashed a couple hundred feet or more from the landing strip.  Grant decides that the group must head for the coast to find rescue, leading the survivors southeast, away from the large Spinosaurus.  After walking for a few miles they encounter the downed para sail and simultaneously discover Ben’s corpse and the nearby raptor nest.  They leave the area quickly, continuing east, while Billy takes the time to steal eggs from the nest.

The survivors stumble upon the para sail and thus the site of Ben's death. The raptor nest is a short walking distance from here.

Eventually they discover the Embryonics Administration building nestled in a valley below them and head into the building, entering through the main entrance from the northwest.  After being attacked by the lone sornaensis male they exit the building from the same location turning south/southeastward, quickly stumbling upon a herd of Parasaurolophus and Corythosaurus.

View from a higher elevation of the Embryonics Administration and Labs. The labs are confined to this valley, and based on this the survivors would approach the entrance from the left.

The survivors run from the Embryonics Administration building, exiting back out the front and turning left after exiting (the opposite direction from how they entered).

In the confusion Alan is separated from the rest of the group and is found by Eric, who leads him back to the water truck where the two spend the night.  Billy, Paul, and Amanda spend the night high in the trees.  Come morning both groups set out.  Alan and Eric eventually find the ravine, at the bottom of which is a river and a salvageable boat.  The other group continues in the same general direction.  Eventually both groups converge on either side of a perimeter fence, likely having passed on either side when the groups split up.  After escaping the Spinosaurus again they head into the Aviary.

Alan and Eric turning away from the canyon, below which is the river, the barge, and (out of frame to the far left) the Aviary.

They escape the Aviary to the south, coming out next to the barge seen earlier by Alan and Eric, and travel south along the slow-moving river.  Sometime during the next night they are attacked by the Spinosaurus a second time about a mile from the mouth of the river and spend the next few hours waiting for morning.  They travel south toward the coast when they are ambushed by the raptors just out of sight of the beach (perhaps having been following the survivors on the water).  Scared off by the approaching helicopters the raptors flee, leaving the survivors to quickly reach the beach and safety.  They then traveled south in helicopters to rendezvous with a group of ships.

 

How Billy was found (and is somehow not dead) is a matter of extreme plot armor; likely the armed forces in question spotted him floating in the water half-dead or washed up on shore near the mouth of the river.  Billy probably floated “safely” on the river after passing under the Aviary walls, actually behind the barge that Alan and the others were traveling on.  After the spino attack he would have drifted straight past the other survivors as they waited for morning, thus reaching the coast before them.

So now the fandom has a map to follow.  Again, most of these locations are approximations and may not be 100% accurate, but then neither are the films in what they are trying to tell us.  Though we feel this is, in essence, “as close as we’re going to get,” I would personally like to take this opportunity to remind people that science is constantly evolving and being altered.  If you think you have something to provide to the map (such as new information or a theory about some matter) do not hesitate to contact me (T-Rex_Master) on the forums through private message about it.  I’ll be happy to look into it.

Hopefully Jurassic Park 4, whenever it happens, blends seamlessly into the rest of the map.  We can only hope.

Jurassic Park Legacy's (as of 9/3/11) map of Isla Sorna, aka "Site B."

The Lost World Hypothesis: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a multi-part entry into the process and pains of the creation of JPL’s map of Isla Sorna.  Eventually these entries will be merged into one article and made part of the Encyclopedia.

 

Determining the specific locations for various events was a complicated task.  There was no existing map to draw reference from, and so any clue as to the location of, say, the high hide was hidden within the film.  We were required to look at dialogue exchange and the physical features of the island as a primary source.  In situations where that did not provide enough of a framework, such as the exact location of the trailers, logic and deductive reasoning were required in order to eliminate other potential locations.

The most sound method was to refer to specific dialogue or plot elements for clues, then fall back on features of the landscape, and then finally determine any other elements to come to a conclusion.  Going over each and every point of reference in this article would be tedious, to say the least.  However, you can get an idea for the process if we look at the location of the Operations Center (sometimes referred to as the worker’s village) and why we put it where we did.

Let’s look at the evidence.  The location of the village was stated to be in the center of the island.  We also have Roland’s comment to Ian and Ajay during the night (after Roland returns from finding Dater’s body, and just before the two rexes attack) that “the Operation’s Building is right down in there, about a mile and a half from the base of these cliffs.”  This gives us three frames of reference; the village is in the middle of the island, is at a low elevation change (they have to go down cliffs to reach it), and is approximately a mile and a half away from the cliff side or ridge (this also gives us a clue as to where the temporary camp is located, but we will come to that later).  A fourth piece of evidence comes in the form of the Velociraptors, which seem to be stationed in droves around the village.  Combine that with Ludlow’s comment about the group having to worry about Velociraptors and we are led to the conclusion that the village lies near the raptor territory as seen on Hammond’s computer near the beginning of the film.

Now that all of this evidence is compiled we can turn to the map, looking specifically at the area in the center of the island near the Velociraptors.  From there we look for a lowland area with a positive change in elevation and see if we can put the village about 1.5 miles from that cliff side.  Working with the map we are able to put in place an “approximate location.”  It is important to note that sometimes locations would be changed as other factors became apparent, or new information was brought to light.  The location of the game trail, for example, changed considerably during our analysis from the middle of the island down to the south to then up to the north.

Based upon film evidence and working with the map we believe that the events unfolded as such.

 

The Mar Del Plata, the boat hired by Hammond’s team, approaches the island from the north.  It heads south along the eastern coast of Sorna before landing in a lagoon.  After unloading the vehicles Hammond’s team heads north, following a dirt road toward the location where (presumably) Sarah should be located.  They park the trailers near a set of cliffs in the northern-most area of the island and power on their GPS units, heading back south to rendezvous with Sarah.

After finding her and heading back north towards camp they discover that Kelly has stowed aboard the trailers (it is by now getting close to “dinner time”).  Within minutes they watch Ludlow’s team (“the hunters”) as they approach from the north and head along the eastern coast of Sorna, soon landing a few miles south of the trailers on a game trail.  Hammond’s team jumps in their Jeeps to follow the helicopters and survey the hunters.

Ludlow's Team approaching from the north.

The hunters travel westward along the game trail, into the setting sun.  Roland and Ajay, during a break, discover a set of Tyrannosaurus footprints disappearing into the jungle toward the southwest.  The rest of the hunter team continues their work while Roland and Ajay track the footprints back to the Rex Nest, about five miles to the southwest.  They return with the infant by nightfall.  The hunters, heeding Roland’s earlier advice, make camp off the game trail (unbeknownst to them just a mile or two from the trailers).  Roland and Ajay set up their hunting blind nearby.

Roland and the rest of the hunters drive into the setting sun during the roundup scene.

A view of the coast from Hammond's team's scouting location, showing the ocean behind the game trail.

With light filtering in through the trees Roland and Ajay have reach the rex nest before nightfall.

By the time Nick and Sarah begin their sabotage of the hunter camp “mommy and daddy” have already discovered that their infant is missing and are heading north while Ian, Kelly, and Eddie head back to the trailers.  Eddie begins setting up the high hide.

Eventually Roland and the other hunters realize they have company on the island and head north along the dirt road, hoping to find the other humans.  Sarah and Nick work on setting the infant rex’s leg as the adults get closer, passing under the high hide and likely passing the hunters as well (who hide, of course).  Eventually they reach the trailers and, after getting their infant back, push the trailers over the cliff.  Eddie leaves Kelly in the high hide and takes the Jeep to help; not long afterwords the hunters reach Kelly and bring her along with them (likely thinking her safer with a group of guys holding big guns).  Soon the adults return to kill Eddie, then leave again.  The hunters finally reach the trailer site, just in time to help the remains of Hammond’s team to safety.  All the survivors together then regroup back at the destroyed hunter camp.

The survivors return to the hunter camp to regroup, salvage equipment, discuss their options, and just generally argue.

After arguing and much deliberation it is agreed that the survivors will travel to the Operations Center in the workers village, Ludlow citing this trip to take “a day’s walk, maybe more.”  They head south before dawn breaks, eventually passing by the coast in the wee hours of the morning.  They are soon set upon by a shower which passes quickly.  Sometime in the second half of the trek they are forced to walk north around a set of intertwining mountain ranges, doubling their travel time (where otherwise they would have headed due west and made the trip in about 10 hours), and pass near the location of Cathy’s beach (the beach where Cathy, the young girl, was attacked by Compsognathus at the beginning of the film).  This is indicated by identical mountain ranges in the backgrounds of both shots.  Here they hear the distant roar of a Tyrannosaurus, likely one of the adults following the scent of blood on Sarah’s jacket.

Cathy Bowman as she encounters the first Compsognathus. Note the mountain range in the top left corner of the image.

The same mountain range as above, behind the survivors, as they continue their trek to the Operations Center.

In the late afternoon Roland stops the group just a few miles short of the village, checking on Sarah’s health.  Dieter takes the time to relieve himself but is frightened by a compy and takes a tumble, injuring himself.  He is soon killed a distance away from the rest of the survivors, whom start start moving again.  About 15 minutes later they realize Dieter is missing.  Roland tells the rest of the group to continue on, as they are “ten minutes” away from the ridge where they will take a few hours rest.  He and a small group of hunters head back to find Dieter.

Roland and the others eventually rendezvous with the rest of the survivors at the ridge some time in the night.  Roland implies he had taken a detour close to the village before returning back (“I’ve seen it”) and comments that in one hour they will make the final stretch to the village, “about a mile and a half from the base of [the] cliffs.”  At this point the adult rexes have caught up to the survivors and attack them, actually pushing everyone toward the village.  The survivors of the rex attack wade through raptor territory in the long grass.  Few survive.  Ian, Nick, Sarah, and Kelly make it through the grass and fall down a short incline to come level with the village.  Nick runs ahead to the Operations Center to call for help, eventually being joined by the others after the raptors attack in the village.  They all get flown to safety.  Back at the ridge Roland has captured the male rex and eventually also gets flown to safety with the rest of InGen’s workers.

 

Admittedly the only snag in this line of reasoning is the location of the rex nest, which is not in the same location as Hammond’s thermal scans show back in his bedroom.  However, this is one of the situations where film evidence begins to contradict itself.  Factually, there is no way that Roland and Ajay could have made it to the rex nest from the game trail in the amount of time they had were that nest in the location that Hammond’s computer suggests; it was too late in the day for a trek of that length.  Moving the game trail inland would not work to correct this imbalance as film evidence shows the game trail running along the coast.  Thus, in the interest of creating a map that doesn’t involve random teleportation of the protagonists we decided that Hammond’s map is either not showing nesting sites, is blatantly wrong, or there is more than one rex family on Sorna.  The latter is actually a fair assumption, since a viable population would have to include more than a single mated pair and their one offspring.

Hammond's computer indicates rex territory somewhere in the middle of the island. Either this is simply a "current position" marker or another rex family's territory, since Roland and Ajay could never have made it to this location before nightfall.

Contradictions make the process difficult, though not impossible; not until Jurassic Park III anyway.

 

Continued in Part 3…

The Lost World Hypothesis: Part 1

This is Part 1 of a multi-part entry into the process and pains of the creation of JPL’s map of Isla Sorna.  Eventually these entries will be merged into one article and made part of the Encyclopedia.

 

Jurassic Park Legacy’s map of Isla Sorna (aka Site B) has been a many-years long endeavor.  Numerous maps of Isla Sorna exist, both in-film props and real world publicity items.  One would therefore think that it would be a simple thing to create a map corresponding to the films’ events.

However, none of the maps work together, and topography varies from one map to another.  It seems the production team for the films did not have any sort of concrete map or topography from which they were working from.

This leaves JPL’s Map Team with a dilemma.  Which of these many maps should be used as the de facto topography for our map?  Should we rule out every other map or attempt to merge all the maps together?  Should one map be considered more likely to be “accurate” than all the others?

After a lot of deliberation it was agreed that the map seen in The Lost World: Jurassic Park during Kelly’s wandering of the trailers (below) was the most accurate for our purposes.  The topography is clear, the map is given a central focus in the film (even if only for a few seconds), and within the film universe itself it appears to be a detailed map of the variety you would find pinned in a government building.

The Five Deaths

Las Cinco Muertas, The Lost World: Jurassic Park

So our topography was established; now we had to determine the size of the island.  This was done fairly easily.  Costa Rica appears on this map as well, and sizing it appropriately allowed us to determine the size of Sorna.  The result;  approximately 21 x 20 miles.

The island was now complete.  We created a large topographical map of the entire Las Cinco Muertes island chain and created a map scale from there (at our scale; 116 pixels per mile).  Work on actual locations could now finally begin.

 

Continued in Part 2…

Why science outweighs want…

People have a hard time with the idea of scientific fact and what it means to change an idea over time. Take the public conception of dinosaurs over the last hundred years. Dinosauria was a new thing in the early 1800s, but bones had been found previously of “dragons” and “other beasts” for a long, long time. People get upset with the aspect that Dragons and Monsters aren’t real, but established folklore that is nothing more than passed between cultures over time. Science? Disproved it and pointed out what it really was, yet some people still sit there believing what they will believe.

Science should always outweigh want though especially when it comes to belief that is unsupported by fact. With science you start with a hypothesis to test and if it’s proven wrong after multiple experiments? You’re wrong and you move on gaining knowledge from the experience and sharing with others until you form another hypothesis and guess what? You repeat the process. If you get the answer you were hoping for? You turn around and still publish your results and see if others discover the same thing you have in your experiment. So what does this have to do with fossils and dinosaurs? Paleontologists have found fossil evidence of feathers, protofeathers, and the like in Theropod Dinosaurs. A lot of people can’t stand the idea of Dromaesaurids (Velociraptor and kin) being feathered. Either they feel it makes the animal look ridiculous or they just love the idea of the scaly reptiles running around clawing at one another. Now the thing that bothers me is that some blame Jurassic Park for this. While it may have been contributory to the “Scaly Dinosaur” group it is clearly not to blame. Jurassic Park only represented one interpretation at that time throw in the fact there’s numerous other Dinosaur fiction out there where feathered dinosaurs are clearly not featured. Why? Public perception. Feathered dinosaurs in 1992? That was a new thing, a new concept that was radical, but not unheard of at all in the slightest. The issue was as always public perception. The public wants to picture scaly horizontally bipedal animals fighting and doing monstrous things and not picture dinosaurs as they were. Why? They find it enthralling and exciting no matter how truly wrong it is. As time went on and more evidence was found the idea of feathered Theropods was more widely accepted. It cemented the relationship between dinosaurs and birds to a heavy degree. The idea of birds being members of Dinosauria itself is fairly new also, but it has older roots back in the early days of paleontology. You can thank the Dinosaur Renaissance for these old ideas being brought back to life in a manner of speaking. An old idea becoming new is not unheard of, but the essential problem is people wanted to believe different (that dinosaurs were sluggish elephantine animals), ignored the evidence (Archeaopteryx!) and it interfered (the public uses terms like dinosaur now to indicate lesser intelligence or something that’s lived past its prime).

I make “want” sound like a bad thing, and the fact is it can be a good thing also. All ideas start by want, but in the end? Science prevails. The key is being objective and that’s what a lot of people fail to realize with want. I see this a lot nowadays with people complaining about the lack of feathered theropods in Jurassic Park. Truth be told Jurassic Park, and InGen’s scientists at the time, worked off public perception of the animals to genetically recreate their theme park “dinosaurs”. Some say “Well this makes them not dinosaurs.” No. It does as they originate from dinosaur blood. They’re dinosaurs in their own right, just the interpretation is different and while the evidence of quill knobs is possible in Velociraptor (the real life one – not the Deinonychus counterpart you see in JP) it’s also equally possible in other animals related to Velociraptor. So the point is InGen, in the films and novels, can alter DNA and produce the animals how they see fit. This would mean genetic technology is a lot more advanced in say the Jurassic Park universes than our own. Of course I admit my ignorance on the subject of genetic technology in our own and that we may be advance, but there’s looser morals associated with the use of it in the Jurassic Park film and novel storylines.

Now on the flip side there are people who are also upset with the aspect of feathered dinosaurs being included possibly in the future of the films. They think this contradicts pre-established canon and to this I point out – again – this is theoretically possible as InGen treated their dinosaurs like software. Each animal to be manipulated in such a way for the “theme park setting” more or less.

So should we have feathered theropods for JPIV? Yes. But explain it to the public because people need to understand WHY and that was the biggest problem with the Jurassic Park /// “Velociraptors”.

“What Everyone Should Know About Paleontology” by Thomas R. Holtz Jr.

While browsing the Dinosaur Mailing List and the various paleoblogs out there recently I stumbled upon this gem of an article by Dr. Thomas Holtz Jr. in regards to what everyone should know about paleontology. I’ve been an aspiring paleontologist for years and it’s nice to see something that could be used a point-by-point done by one of the professionals out there. Personally, he’s one of my favorite paleontologists out there around and actually worked on the Jurassic Park Institute Dinosaur Field Guide a while back. The question was posed by Roberto Takata from the Dinosaur Mailing List. Project Dryptosaurus even posted a copy of this on their site.

“What Should Everyone Know About Paleontology?” 
by Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

I think that is a good question. What really are the most important elements of paleontology that the general public should understand? I took a shot at coming up with a list of key concepts, based on experiences with teaching paleontology and historical geology and with less-formally structured outreach to the public. I have offered this list (cross posted at the Sauropod Vertebrae Picture of the Week, Dave Hone’s Archosaur Musings, and Superoceras blogs) as a way for it to reach a wider audience. That this is Darwin Week makes it even more appropriate, as we should use this occasion to encourage a better understanding of the changes of Earth and Life through Time for the public at large.
Much as I might like to think otherwise, the specific details of the hindlimb function of Tyrannosaurus rex or the pneumatic features of brachiosaurid vertebrae really are not the most important elements of the field. Understanding and appreciating the nitty gritty details of the phylogeny and anatomy of any particular branch of the Tree of Life are not really necessary for everyone to know, any more than we would regard detailed knowledge of bacterial biochemistry or the partitioning of minerals in a magma chamber to be significant general knowledge. (Indeed, these latter two items are actually far more critical for human society than any specific aspect of paleontology, and so from a certain point of view really more important for people to know than the History of Life.)
That said, all human societies and many individuals have wondered about where we have come from and how the world came to be the way it is. This is, in my opinion, the greatest contribution of paleontology: it gives us the Story of Earth and Life, and especially our own story.
I have divided this list into two sections. The first is a list of general topics of paleontology, touching on the main elements of geology that someone would need to know for fossils to make any sense. The second is the more specific list of key points in the history of life.
(NOTE: as the idea of this list is that it should be aimed at the general public, I have tried to avoid technical terminology where possible.)

GENERAL:

  • That rocks are produced by various factors (erosion à sedimentation; metamorphism; volcanic activity; etc.)
  • That rocks did not form at a single moment in time, but instead have been and continue to be generated throughout the history of the planet.
  • That fossils are remains of organisms or traces of their behavior recorded in those rocks.
  • That rocks (and the organisms that made the fossils) can be thousands, millions, or even billions of years old.
  • That the species discovered as fossils, and the communities of organisms at each place and time, are different from the same in the modern world and from each other.
  • That despite these differences that there is continuity between life in the past and life in the present: this continuity is a record of the evolution of life.
  • That we can use fossils, in conjunction with anatomical, molecular, and developmental data of living forms, to reconstruct the evolutionary pattern of life through time.
  • That fossils are incomplete remains of once-living things, and that in order to reconstruct how the organisms that produced them actually lived, we can:
    • Document their anatomy (both gross external and with the use of CT scanning internal), and compare them to the anatomy of living creatures in order to estimate their function;
    • Examine their chemical composition, which can reveal aspects of their biochemistry;
    • Examine their microstructure to estimate patterns of growth;
    • Model their biomechanical functions using computers and other engineering techniques;
    • Investigate their footprints, burrows, and other traces to reveal the motion and other actions of the species while they were alive;
    • And collect information of the various species that lived together in order to reconstruct past communities.
  • However, with all that, fossils are necessarily incomplete, and there will always be information about past life which we might very much want to know, but which has been forever lost. Accepting this is very important when working with paleontology.
  • That environments of the past were different from the present.
  • That there have been episodes of time when major fractions of the living world were extinguished in a very short period of time: such data could not be known without the fossil record.
  • That entire branches of the tree of life have perished (sometimes in these mass extinction events, sometimes more gradually).
  • That certain modes of life (reef formers, fast-swimming marine predators, large-bodied terrestrial browsers, etc.) have been occupied by very different groups of organisms at different periods of Earth History.
  • That every living species, and every living individual, has a common ancestor with all other species and individuals at some point in the History of Life.

SPECIFIC:
Honestly, despite the fact the specific issues about specific parts of the Tree of Life are the ones that paleontologists, the news media, the average citizen, etc., are more concerned with, they really are much less significant for the general public to know than the points above. Sadly, documentary companies and the like keep on forgetting that, and keep on forgetting that a lot of the public does not know the above points.
Really, in the big picture, the distinction between dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and crurotarsans are trivialities compared to a basic understanding that the fossil record is our document of Life’s history and Earth’s changes.
Summarizing the key points of the history of life over nearly 4 billion years of evolutionary history is a big task. After all, there is a tendency to focus on the spectacular and sensationalized rather than the ordinary and humdrum. As Stephen Jay Gould and others often remarked, from a purely objective external standpoint we have always lived in the Age of Bacteria, and the changing panoply of animals and plants during the last half-billion years have only been superficial changes.
But the question wasn’t “what should a dispassionate outsider regard as the modal aspect of the History of Life?”; it was “What should everyone know about paleontology?” Since we are terrestrial mammals of the latest Cenozoic, we have a natural interest in events on the land and during the most recent parts of Earth History. That is a fair bias: it does focus on who WE are and where WE come from.

That said, here is a list of key concepts in the history of life. Other researchers might pick other moments, and not include some that I have here. Still, I believe most such lists would have many of the same key points within them.

  • Life first developed in the seas, and for nearly all of its history was confined there.
  • For most of Life’s history, organisms were single-celled only. (And today, most of the diversity remains single-celled).
  • The evolution of photosynthesis was a critical event in the history of Earth and Life; living things were able to affect the planet and its chemistry on a global scale.
  • Multicellular life evolved independently several times.
  • Early animals were all marine forms.
  • The major groups of animals diverged from each other before they had the ability to make complex hard parts.
  • About 540 million years ago, the ability to make hard parts became possible across a wide swath of the animal tree of life, and a much better fossil record happened.
  • Plants colonized land in a series of stages and adaptations. This transformed the surface of the land, and allowed for animals of various groups to follow afterwards.
  • For the first 100 million years or so of skeletonized animals, our own group (the vertebrates) were relatively rare and primarily suspension feeders. The evolution of jaws allowed our group to greatly diversify, and from that point onward vertebrates of some form or other have remained apex predators in most marine environments.
  • Complex forests of plants (mostly related to small swampland plants of today’s world) covered wide regions of the lowlands of the Carboniferous.
  • Burial of this vegetation before it could decay led to the formation of much of the coal that powered the Industrial Revolution and continues to power the modern world.
  • While most of the coal swamp plants required a moist ground surface on which to propagate, one branch evolved a method of reproduction using a seed. This adaptation allowed them to colonize the interiors, and seed plants have long since become the dominant form of land plant.
  • In the coal swamps, one group of arthropods (the insects) evolved the ability to fly. From this point onward insects were to be among the most common and diverse land animals.
  • Early terrestrial vertebrates were often competent at moving around on land as adults, but typically had to go back to the water in order to reproduce. In the coal swamps one branch of these animals evolved a specialized egg that allowed them to reproduce on land, and thus avoid this “tadpole” stage.
  • These new terrestrial vertebrates—the amniotes—diversified into many forms. Some included the ancestors of modern mammals; others the ancestors of today’s reptiles (including birds).
  • A tremendous extinction event, the largest in the age of animals, devastated the world about 252 million years ago. Caused by the effects and side-effects of tremendous volcanoes, it radically altered the composition of both marine and terrestrial communities.
  • In the time after this Permo-Triassic extinction, reptiles (and especially a branch that includes the ancestors of crocodilians and dinosaurs) diversified and became ecologically dominant in most medium- to large-sized niches.
  • During the Triassic many of the distinctive lineages of the modern terrestrial world (including turtles, mammals, crocodile-like forms, lizard-like forms, etc.) appeared. Other groups that would be very important in the Mesozoic but would later disappear (such as pterosaurs and (in the seas) ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs) evolved at this time.
  • Dinosaurs were initially a minor component of these Triassic communities. Only the tall, long-necked sauropodomorphs were ecologically diverse during this time among the various dinosaur branches. However, a mass extinction event at the end of the Triassic (essentially the Permo-Triassic extinction in miniature) allowed for the dinosaurs to diversify as their competitors had vanished.
  • During the Jurassic, dinosaurs diversified. Some grew to tremendous size; some evolved spectacular armor; some become the largest carnivorous land animals the world had seen by this point. Among smaller carnivorous dinosaurs, an insulating covering of feathers had evolved to cover the body (possibly from a more ancient form shared by all dinosaurs). Among the feathered dinosaurs were the ancestors of the birds.
  • Other terrestrial groups such as pterosaurs, crocodile-ancestors, mammals, and insects continued to diversify into new habits.
  • During the Jurassic and (especially) the Cretaceous, a major transformation of marine life occurred. Green-algae phytoplankton were displaced by red-algae phytoplankton (which continue to dominate modern marine ecosystems). A wide variety of new predators—advanced sharks and rays, teleost fish, predatory snails, crustaceans with powerful claws, specialized echinoids, etc.—appeared, and the sessile surface-dwelling suspension feeders that dominated the shallow marine communities since the Ordovician became far rarer. Instead, more mobile, swimming, or burrowing forms became more common.
  • During the Cretaceous one group of land-plants evolved flowers and fruit and thus tied their reproduction very closely with animals. Although not immediately ecologically dominant, this type of plants would eventually come to be the major land plant group.
  • The impact of a giant asteroid—coupled with other major on-going environmental changes—brought an end to the Mesozoic. Most large-bodied groups on land and sea, and many smaller bodied forms, disappeared. The only surviving dinosaurs were toothless birds.
  • The beginning of the Cenozoic saw the establishment of mammals as the dominant group of large-bodied terrestrial vertebrates. Early on mammals colonized both the sea and the air as well.
  • During its beginning the Cenozoic world was warm and wet, much like the Cretaceous. However, a number of changes of the position of the continents and the rise of mountain ranges caused the climates to cool and dry.
  • As the world cooled and dried, great grasslands developed (first in South America, and later nearly all other continents).
  • Various groups of animals adapted to the new grassland conditions. Herbivorous mammals became swift runners with deep-crowned teeth, often living in herds for protection. Mammalian predators became swifter as well, some becoming pack hunters.
  • Other new plant communities evolved, and new animal communities which inhabited them. The rise of modern meadows (dominated by daisy-related plants and grasses) saw the diversification of mouse-and-rat type rodents, many frogs and toads, advanced snakes, songbirds, etc.
  • A group of arboreal mammals with very big brains, complex social communities, and gripping hands—the primates—produced many forms. In Africa one branch of these evolved to live at mixed forest-grassland margins, and from this branch evolved some who became fully upright and moved out into the grasslands.
  • This group of primates retained and advanced the ability to use stone tools that its forest-dwelling ancestors already had. Many branches evolved, and some developed even larger brains and more complex tools. It is from among these that the ancestors of modern humans and other close relatives evolved, and eventually spread out from Africa to other regions of the planet.
  • About 2.6 million years ago a number of factors led to ice age conditions, where glaciers advanced and retreated. Various groups of animals evolved adaptations for these new cold climates.
  • The early humans managed to colonize much of the planet; shortly after their arrival into new worlds, nearly all the large-bodied native species disappeared.
  • At some point before the common ancestor of all modern humans spread across the planet, the ability to have very complex symbolic language evolved. This led to many, many technological and cultural diversifications which changed much faster than the biology of the humans themselves.
  • In western Asia and northern Africa (and eventually in other regions), modern humans developed techniques to grow food under controlled circumstances, leading to true agriculture. (Other cultures are known to have independently evolved proto-agricultural techniques).
  • This Neolithic revolution allowed for the development of more settled communities, specialization of individual skills within a community (including soldiers, metallurgists, potters, priests, rulers, and with the rise of writing, scribes).
  • From this point we begin to get a written record, and so the historians can take up the story…

This list is obviously not comprehensive, and there are many elements that I had to ignore to keep it relatively short. Still, I hope this overview helps put where we as a species fit into the larger perspective of Life’s long voyage, a voyage that could only have been traced by the study of fossils.

By far truly awesome and a big thank you to Dr. Holtz for making this awesome post to help people out there.

Taxonomy for Fictional Dinosaurs, why it’s so gosh darn fun!

As promised part two of my educational process behind the Jurassic Park Encyclopedia and why it is so much fun. Jurassic Park is probably one of the best mainstream media outlets for getting people interested in dinosaurs, but there’s a lot of scientific inaccuracies in them. My whole thing with Jurassic Park is that I liked it since I saw an advertisement in a book store for it. Being at least four to five years old at the time back in 90 I was told that was a “Big Kids Book”. My mother didn’t really discourage getting it for me, but she said that “When you can read books without pictures I’ll get it for you.” and sure enough she did. I have always had an appreciation for dinosaurs and all things relatively prehistoric (except mammals as I look at them every day) from the age of three on up. Dinosaurs to me wasn’t just a phase and it’s generally not going anywhere with me. Sure the sands of time haven’t been kind to me, but I do what I can to stay in the loop. Unfortunately with JPL it leaves me often feeling like I’m either:

A.)  Dinosaur Groupie
B.) I’m dressing up and playing researcher.

Ech, I know my facts and if I don’t know something I’m willing to learn and I actually trying to find ways to be involved in paleontology and the actual study of the science as it’s important to me. So why am I discussing this here? It relates, give me a moment. The problem with the Jurassic Park dinosaurs is that they are stylized and/or not correct as a result with the current views of either PaleoArt or Vertebrate Paleontology (Dinosaur study) as a whole.

Public Conceptions of Dinosaurs and The Impact on the Films.

So what warrants changes into the taxonomy of the Dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park franchise? How can you reconcile the issues with the rotated ulna with the pronated hands of the theropods, and lack of bontiful amounts of beautiful feathery fluff on said theropod dinosaurs? The necks of the Brachiosaurs, etc, etc, etc. Lastly: Why do you care to do this?

All valid questions indeed! So let’s answer the last first and work our way to the other two. Why I care: Jurassic Park has a rich story that i isn’t elaborated too much in the films and like in the films with the cloning process you’re required to use your brain to fill in the gaps making inferences – based on evidence to make your conclusions. Essentially, you know the structure, you know the direction it’s going, but something is missing. A lot of this can be left up to viewer/reader interpretation of the story, but a lot of it can be supported. Sadly I find it a lot like the actual science behind the film here. The thing with Jurassic Park is it’s meant to be for adults who like dinosaurs and want to feel nostalgia. To me it’s much more than that I care because Jurassic Park is probably the single most popular property out there, but it gets treated like the estranged black sheep uncle (Insert blank name here) that you have and people don’t associate with often. Why is it that way? Good question! I don’t know, but maybe if enough people ask Universal maybe Jurassic Park will make a proper come back.

Point is that a lot of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and the discrepencies with modern paleontology and the view points established within the last two decades (1990 to 2010) can clearly be blamed on “public consciousness/view of dinosaurs”. There’s a scene in the novels in the chapter of Version 4.4 that Wu is remarking how the animals need to be changed to make the public perception of the dinosaurs more real. Here’s the scene for those interested:

“I really think you should consider my recommendations for phase two. We should go to Version 4.4″
“You want to replace all the curren stock of animals?” Hammond said.
“Yes, I do.”
“Why? What’s wrong with them?”
“Nothing,” Wu said, “except that they’re real dinosaurs.”
“That’s what I asked for, Henry,” Hammond said, smiling. “And that’s what you gave me.”
“I know,” Wu said. “But you see…” He paused. How could he explain this to Hammond? Hammond hardly ever visited the island. And it was a peculiar situation that Wu was trying to convey. “Right now, as we stand here, almost no one in the world has ever seen an actual dinosaur. Nobody knows what they’re really like.”  (Crichton p. 122)

So the conception basically is inGen would alter their dinosaurs to suit the public opinion of it if they had to in the novels, but seeing how in the films they’re different from what we know in reality (dinosaurs of the time) the chances are they took this step in the film universe prior to bringing the park together. We can say this because of the constant and ever changing view on dinosaurs as a whole. So essentially this explains some of the anatomical differences, lack of feathers, and such on the actual animals we see being different than what’s in the film. So with that clearly pointed out to those who say that the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are incorrect – by today’s standards…Yes, yes they are! Back to the public of then and somewhat now? No. They weren’t. Yes Jurassic Park is to blame for such school yard retorts of “T.rex’s vision was based on movement.” which is a carry over not accurately elaborated on from the novels to the films. Stupid, stupid, stupid! It doesn’t make Jurassic Park bad, it in fact makes it a classic. The other issue that’s seen with Jurassic Park is that Dr. Grant apparently has the luck of finding wonderfully preserved and complete fossils on his digs. I can’t explain that for you. It’s a movie for crying out loud though. Maybe Grant is just lucky? :)

Issues with Velociraptor and why Gregory Paul, among other Paleo-Figures impacted the Jurassic Park franchise forever.

In 1988 Gregory Paul, the reason why I started making attempts at PaleoArt came out with a book on dinosaurs. Gregory Paul is known for lumping a lot of genera together. Depending on your view point on taxonomic lumps and splits this can be a bad thing. Anyways the book paired Deinonychus up with Velociraptor and thus where all thus fuss of inaccurate Velociraptors came from. The book was “Predatory dinosaurs of the world : a complete illustrated guide” and like the newer “Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs” it deals with a lot of lumping. Both books are good, and I really enjoy reading them. The idea made it into the novel and then from the Novel Spielberg pumped up the Raptors using the “new” taxonomy of the time and boom. You have Velociraptor “antirrhopus” in the film. Utahraptor made the icing on the cake sweeter essentially though and justified the “Big One” for the film and the large size when it was discovered. The thing with Utahraptor is a lot of documentaries on the Discovery Channel point this to being the “True Raptor” of Jurassic Park – needless to say they’re wrong. This fact for the Deinonychus was pointed out in the “Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide” on page 63 as well among other Paleontology books out there.

Dilophosaurus also got hit in the mix-bag as well. The thing I liked about the “Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide” is it makes the attempts we do in the Encyclopedia to reconcile fiction with cold solid and beautiful fact.  It’s placed in the field guide that Dilophosaurus suffered under the gene splicer more or less. (Holtz & Brett-Surman 65) I personally find this acceptable, but there’s some issues with people who say the Dilophosaurs is too small. First off, yes they’re right, but the fact was attempted to be reconciled in The Lost World Jurassic Park due to this image/screen capture:

Yes, this screen can be seen in the movie during when Malcolm and Sarah are talking in the mobile RV lab trailers when they discovered Kelly stowaway’d with them. Another thing pointed out in the “Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide” is that Metriacanthosaurus may actually be Yangchuanosaurus as well. I do recommend getting the book if you can find it. Despite it being out of print it’s what really inspired me to work harder on the updated classifications for the Jurassic Park dinosaurs to try to show there’s people out there serious or nuts (depending on your view point) about these films. Check for citation at the end of this blog post in regards to the books and sources mentioned. The book, done by my personal hero, Dr. Holtz and Dr. Brett-Surman is truly great for the reasons mentioned. To me they help shaped Jurassic Park along with Dr. Bakker, Dr. Horner, and so many others as well.

Pteranodons with teeth! This one goes without much explanation. The genetic manipulation is subtly applied with a power drill. The Pteranodons in The Lost World: Jurassic Park are fairly correct, but the ones in JP3 are downright appalling. What’s interesting is the fact in the JP3 Aviary you can see charts and what not behind Grant and his group of weathered travelers that the Pteranodons were possibly under heavy observation and study. Again this goes back to a possible goof in the cloning process or alteration to try to make the dinosaurs compatible with a theme park setting. This adds more argument to the fact that the dinosaurs are constantly under refinement as can be seen with the Velociraptors and the differences in behavior between the two breeds in all three films.

That takes care of most of the basics of what’s considered and why the taxonomy is usually changed. Usually if the animal is different enough from the real animal it warrants that. Soon a lot of the theropod dinosaurs are going to be given this change in classification because of the hands and lack of feathers on some due to the ever changing environment of science. Essentially, some day soon the entire classification system for the Jurassic Park dinosaurs is probably going to be need to be re-defined because of the incorrect restorations. Thanks for reading folks!

Recommended Reading:

  • Dr. Holtz Jr, Thomas R.; Dr. Brett-Surman, Michael: “Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide” Copyright 2001. Random House. New York
  • Paul, G.S. (1988). Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Paul, G.S. (2010). Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • Crichton, Michael. “Jurassic Park”. Copyright 1990. Published by Ballentine Books.

What’s canon? What’s not? Is it a matter of opinion?

Recently, a lot of questions in a research project regarding the timeline of the franchise came up in the upper-echelons of the staff portion of the board in regards to what’s considered canon and what’s not in the Encyclopedia. One of the greatest things about Jurassic Park is that it actually brings the world from long ago to a more modernized now. True, Jurassic Park doesn’t accurately reflect actual Paleontology. Example, you’d be lucky to find a Deinonychus or other fossil that well preserved in the field. Either Dr. Grant just is psychic or he’s secretly Merlin (see another film that Sam Neill is in known as “Merlin”). The biggest confusing portion of Jurassic Park is honestly the continuity and the common fallacy is the “hybrid it with other variations to make a complete canon” logic. Sometimes this can be done, but other times it hurts the continuity a lot in the end.

So what is essentially considered canon and what is not? It really depends on the universe you choose to meddle with really. Jurassic Park, from what I’ve found, is distinct in how each universe is more or less an alternate, but yet similar reality of one another with no clear intersect point for every universe. It looks like because it’s all different media it would really use different continuity for each “timeline”. Here’s a brief write out I did of how the JP continuity works:

C-Canon – Crichton Canon/Novel Canon. This is the novel canon only. The only reason this exists is due to the novels being the “starting” medium. Considered the Alpha universe as it’s the first one made and therefore the source material. The novels have really no “supplements” to canon is the interesting aspect. Suggestive reason for this is the fact the films are more popular.

S-Canon – Spielberg Canon/Film Canon. This encompasses the films, cast & crew interviews, official media such as Making of Books and other various “movie-oriented” sources. Spielberg Canon is where all the films and their supplements originate from. They are mostly their own beast as they have an entirely different continuity from what is read in the novel. What sources are considered to be film canon, S-Canon. or Spielberg Canon?
1.) The films themselves obviously. Spielberg had ties with all three.
2.) Cutscenes – What this is in regards to is scene remnants or scenes that were originally meant to be included but were cut due to run-time constraints and would have only furthered the story.
In order for a cutscene to be considered canon it must be true for the media to be present of this scene in various places including, but not limited to: Screen capture from cut scene, film clip showing the scene, and lastly audio file. Audio files are suspect and can be forged however, so it would pend review. Examples of this include: Ellie grabbing Leaf, Ellie and Muldoon walking to power shed, extended Grant and kids through park walking, the board room scene, meeting with Roland and Ajay, etc would all be considered within valid canon as reasons for their elimination were not due to continuity, but rather shortening of run-time. While this is disputed and debatable, it is still adhered to in our continuity timelines due to the reasons behind the elimination.
What precludes this clause and makes something uncanon that was cut? If said scene takes place in script, but is shortened or changed during filming then film canon takes priority. Examples of this include: Extended dialog between two or more characters where no screenshot is present, different endings, etc. The rule of thumb is the scripts are not canon for this reason as they attempt to overwrite established continuity and generally even the final revisions of the scripts fit into this category as they are changed at some point during filming.
3.) Supplemental Material this includes The Making of Books, featurettes in the films, making-of documentaries, Interviews from the cast/crew of the film, The props (If it’s seen in the film it’s canon and if it’s not in the film it’s not canon.). Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery art. (Similar to acceptance like the props – if it isn’t exact to the film it is not canon), the Jurassic Park Traveling Exhibits (they basically explain the science in the films, but bring the props to the forefront as well as the movie dinosaurs too), Official Souvenir Magazines (Official Movie Trading cards fall under here, where applicable and so long as this doesn’t override the film), The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park/The Lost World Scrapbook (Published by Scholastic), The Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide (Some information pertaining to animals referenced in the film) and cold hard paleontological fact (We’re talking dinosaurs here)!
4.) Jurassic Newsletters (Ambiguous canon at best, not very reliable and should be considered last. It is muddled with hybrid novel/film canon; however, the film events, workings, etc can be extracted so long as they do not contradict the finished product seen on screen.) and The Rides (Only events of course referencing the movies, events, animal behavior, or places from the film). The rides are a tricky subject as they are set into a metaverse like the newsletters where with bridging the gap in our world. What can be trusted exactly? The props from the film you see of course, the behavior of the movie dinosaurs, and some of the events from Isla Nublar that is discussed on the rides.
CB-Canon – Comic Book canon, functional continuity that alters the events of the films due to being made off of final script revisions differing enough to not match the film closely.
JN-Canon – Novelette Canon, functional continuity that alters the events of the films due to being made off of final script revisions differing enough to not match the film closely.
U-Canon – Noncanon elements such as games & toys with no functional continuity
That pretty much covers everything on what’s canon, how the universes are, and what’s considered. So how does anybody arrive to these determinations of what canon is when no otherwise “official word” is present other than a few loose words here and there from a few people in charge (e.g, Rick Carter and Michael Crichton specifically)? The fact is canon is never about your personal want nor can it be for personal opinion so much. The fact is that “I want” shouldn’t and doesn’t exist in this unless you have proof and it’s really not a justification point either. It’s almost as annoying as justifying something with “Because.” and nothing more. So what’s this say about us? What did we do? Whenever we say something isn’t canon it’s justified as we cite the reasons why and the specifics behind.
So say you are making a project and you are worried about criticism from us because you fear you don’t fit into canon. Relax! We’re not in the business here to criticize your work and scrutinize it with a harsh eye and a sharp tongue. I personally find fan projects that don’t readily consider continuity fun actually. Now if you decide to ask about how to make your project fit in the continuity, we’ll gladly explain how it would be violating continuity and we even suggest alternatives if you’re open to altering your story. Example, look at Live the Legend we take a lot of creative liberties with it to make it interesting, but we still try to keep the continuity grounded within the original source and at the same time making our own.
Look for part two of this soon when I bore you more on the science behind the dinosaur classifications and why taxonomy with fake dinosaurs can be fun too.

A Tour of the Encyclopedia Process…

A lot of people don’t realize the due process of the Encyclopedia and how it actually works for the community. If you were to joined the community in the year 2000 and asked for a list of dinosaurs that were located on Isla Nublar you would have been simply given the novel list and said simply “Well, that’s all we have.” or some people would chime in saying the toys represented the accurate count of the animals on Isla Nublar, to this it was met with a face palm representing frustration as I was a mere aspiring Fan Fiction writer along with my friends.

The concept of canon, although clearly indicated by Rick Carter (Production Designer) and Michael Crichton (Author of the original works) were briefly elaborated with admittedly vague, but confirming quotes. The problem was, these quotes – like a lot of the information represented in the Jurassic Franchise were buried and forgotten. You can see more information about these quotes here. Out of a flowering ambition and a lack of a social life in High School I took it upon myself to organize a group of individuals to lead a research effort into determining what was canon and what was not in the Jurassic Franchise. The result, well, after ten years is what you see as the Jurassic Park Legacy website.

A lot of questions are asked about the due process involved in the Encyclopedia, a lot of accusations have been made in regards to the validity of our information. There is a lot of stuff we keep out of the public eye because, some of it, is boring and a lot of it gets into philosophical fights on occasion surrounding what is/was canon and what is just us getting into semantics regarding what we see. In other words, boring crap. The fact is we see ourselves like digital paleontologists in a way mulling over a trilogy of film, two novels, countless comics, numerous video games, and a couple lines of toys scraping every detail we can from them in order to establish the boundaries of continuity and lastly canon to make it easy for Fan Fiction writers and fans a nice something to read through. Fan Encyclopedias are quite popular, in fact there are very many people – with nothing to do at times, that love going over and reading them to “attain” knowledge. Jurassic Park is different in a way, we’ve had to stay up on current paleontology research in order to point out the interpretations in the dinosaurs concerning how “true” to science they are. Very recently, we indicated that even if InGen had cloned a feathered Velociraptor they would still – likely – modify it to match public perception of dinosaurs at the time to make it seem a real. A concept indicated in the novels, and can be inferred over to the films due to the appearance of the JP3 Velociraptors being different from the previous two film’s Velociraptor. We also indicated that the JP Velociraptor is not actually a Velociraptor, but a Deinonychus based on size and the ontological aspects of the animal’s skull that we see in the film. Ergo on the taxonomic aspect, it is a Deinonychus. Among this, we’ve made much progress, for one we now know there are varying species lists between the continuities that add up as, again, different media.

How about the maps? We have different methods with those, some of us look at the filming locations and how the topography seemingly blends in together on what we see with the film and the island layout provided by the Production Design department. The issue is, always with JP, continuity. Because of changes in filming or changes in perspective from concept to filming a lot of the maps involve our best educated guesses. The problem with this is that we are having to make inferences or educated guesses on scant information. A lot of our work recently has been involving map making and ergo, therefore, a lot of educated guesses and inferences from what we see on film, from the Making of Books, and other sources. The problem is, occasionally, we are wrong and we work hard to fix that in light of new evidence. The other issue is a lot of people go “Well I can do better.” to this I respond, atypically and maverick like “You are certainly welcome to try, but it’s going to be wrong.” Why do I tell them it’s going to be wrong? A lot of naysayers, hecklers I call them as well, come in without learning all the facts themselves and say “I feel it should be this because it just looks right. So you should change it.” this is honestly the worse thing anyone can say/do. We don’t simply put something because we *feel* it should be there. We put something to its location on the map because of educated guesses. If you want something changed, present evidence – strong evidence, to indicate it needs to be changed. Some people have unfortunately gone as far as presenting pictures with little to know evidence regarding a change. They accompanied dubious evidence which only confuses the argument.

The process behind the Encyclopedia is slow, if you have seen our current Sorna map some have realized the scale is off, this is true. We are currently re-working it and a lot of work involved in it is admittedly overwhelming, but this is our biggest project in a while. The aim of JPLegacy and it’s team is very simple. Provide accurate information to the fans of Jurassic Park. Give Jurassic Park the treatment and highlight that it should have always received from the beginning and not the negligence and “step child treatment” it has received by so much from Hollywood. In addition to this we provide a friendly community, as much as we can at least, for the fandom to come and discuss all things JP.