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.)


  • 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.

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.

Version 6 on its way!

One of the hardest parts of doing a new version to Jurassic Park Legacy is trying to find a way to top your own work and improve upon the faults you found in the previous designs. I started new work on version 6 to find myself constantly going through a load of ideas constantly before settling on what I am now finally working on. The original idea for version 6 was actually more of a JP3-esque look seeing how we have had a bit of JP and TLW look to the site. The time honored traditions of most of the JP sites out there has been to “honor thy film” as I say. I tried to break that manner of thinking a bit with my first two versions of the site. I tried to do Version 1 or 2 based off of an idea I had just randomly. There was a Version 0 at one point, but Version 0 was just a generic gradient red-black background and nothing too special there. Check these out below, these are all of our past versions.

So you see where the site has been and now as to where it’s going. Recently we’ve seen the launch of a new style logo for Jurassic Park, new comics, a new game coming, and lastly a new set of toys. The trick in this? Finding something that kind of marries the site to the products available to give Hasbro, Telltale, and IDW a bit of free press/promotional blitz and to bridge the fandom to meeting it.

Version 6 has been my back-breaking endeavor to working that out. What is Version 6 to include? Random Quote, Poll, and a Search for sites in the JP community. Well that’s stuff we already do, we’re actually going to go back to version 4 a bit with the random changing logo again and designing new header images for it. On top of this we’ve got a plan to go a bit further with Version 6 by actually creating horizontal hover link menus for easier navigation. The hardest part of the site is navigating so I want to clean that up for the next version. Next thing that’s being done is a new “intro page”. I would be lying if I said Version 6 isn’t our most image intensive version yet. Truth is also in that we’re also looking to keep load times down for performance reasons.

What about the Encyclopedia? It’s taking some time but we are planning a revamp of how the information is presented by scrapping together our own CMS. I personally hate Wikipedia software and the free “how-anyone-and-their-father’s brother’s cousin’s sisters roommate ” can edit the thing. This to me makes a Wiki-anything heavily unreliable because of this. To further add insult to Wiki? College courses really will fail you if you cite them. Something I agree with because of how it can be edited and changed by almost everybody. So JPL is making it’s own system based off a couple old designs and such a few other people have tried in the community’s past. It will take some time, but we’re hoping to even give the Encyclopedia it’s own sub-hosted domain; however, still keeping the Encyclopedia integrated on the site. The domain would be or something like down the line here.

So keep in mind with anything it takes a load of time to accomplish and to have up and running. I have teased version six already on our message board. As always keep with us and we’ll keep trying to keep things exciting.

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. 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.

Where we find news…

The previous post addressed (very briefly) how Coranto was used to post news. This post is basically where we go for news.

We have two types of websites we visit daily for news. Firstly; film websites. We are a Jurassic Park website, after all. We have to be on the ball for breaking news. My personal recommendations for the latest news in Hollywood, JP or otherwise includes and Of course, we use a lot more than two websites for this. We search at least fourteen websites about news information. DVD/BluRay releases, and so on.

The second type of website we use are scientific websites. These range from National Geographic, to Nature, to even regular news such as the BBC. We try to cover paleontological finds (Generally dinosaurs, of course) to provide our more scientific curious fans with a steady stream of information. As the world of dinosaurs is rapidly changing, we have to keep on top of this. It allows us to keep our users in touch with the reality aspect!

Lastly… arguably our most useful source if news is from within the community. We’ve had a few stories recently uncovered by fans not working on the staff who have provided us with the scoop to put on the front page. The help from the community is undoubtedly a great asset for our website, however we’re not out of a job…

yet. If you have something newsworthy to post; please post it so it can make the site page!