Jurassic Park has jumped the shark. What started life as a sci-fi movie with bits of adventure and horror rooted firmly in semi-realistic science has devolved into a ridiculous farce designed as spectacle with no understanding for extinct animals or reality. And that’s a shame. There are a myriad of extinct animals that are way cooler than generic, featherless dinosaurs in browns and tans. There are animals more terrifying than Indominus rex. These are the extinct animals I want to see running around and trying to eat people enjoying their Margaritaville meals.
Why a bird? Sure, birds are dinosaurs but they aren’t, like, the cool dinosaurs. But… It was the largest flying bird ever known, with a wingspan up to 24 feet. And unlike other gigantic extinct flying birds that were likely scavengers, this guy was a predator. Sure, it was probably eating fish on the wing like an albatross, but it had pseudo-teeth. So, imagine a blood covered, giant, toothed bird swooping down to eat the eyes out of unsuspecting lawyers and such
These are the giant ground sloths. Though they were certainly relatively gentle carnivores, they were also as big as a large bear and have massive, sharp claws. Imagine the scene: A hapless fool stumbling around comes across a cute, furry sloth. “Wow! A sloth! Let me pet this majestic beast.” The drunk idiot wanders over, tries to pet it and then… SLASH! Organs spill out. Screams. The giant ground sloth goes back to eating avocados.
Here’s another silly looking but dangerous animal. The Therizinosaurus was kind of a big, fat herbivore dinosaur maybe covered in shaggy feathers and with a long neck. But, like Megatherium, this bad boy had ridiculously long claws. Basically, imagine a giant chicken with samurai swords for hands. Now imagine the damage that could do to a T. rex in a big, dramatic fight scene.
Most of the Anomalocaris species looked like really, really big shrimp with weird, long mandibles for a mouth. That doesn’t really sound scary, right? Ah, but they could act as some ancient piranhas. Our bad guy falls into the Anomalocaris tank. He sees some giant shrimp guys and thinks, hey, I’ll be ok. Suddenly they start taking chunks of flesh out of his leg and torso, snaring them with their protruding mouthparts, only for his head to finally be eaten off by…
Jeankelopterus was a giant sea scorpion. Well, it wasn’t really a scorpion but it was giant and looked like a sea scorpion. How big was this extinct arthropod? Some could’ve measured 8 feet or more, with long, terrifying claws. Think of them as the tigers of the earliest oceans. Some major carnage could come with one of these tearing off someone’s head. Earlier in the movie, you’ve got the joke about how goofy it looks. Later on, it eats someone’s face clean off in an aquarium.
Stygimoloch – a name referencing the River Styx and a God - is a genus of the classic hard-headed, two-legged dinosaurs we’ve seen in other movies ramming heads like sheep. But this awesome one is a little more ornate. Instead of just a bump or a crest, it had long spines and crazy knobs. Maybe a flock of these guys, colorfully flamboyant, smash through a building while running in terror. Maybe an overly zealous male rams a car and flips someone over, trapping them inside while a massive predator shows up! A predator like…
Quiazhousaurus was a genus related to the T. rex, so already it’s a big, cool predator. Here’s the kicker, though. Pinocchio rex was given that nickname because they have long, pointed snouts full of tiny, sharp teeth. So what? Well, they were from China. Imagine a cool looking enclosure, designed to look like old Chinese architecture with a massive, long snouted carnivore lurking in it. Someone hides in one of the fake temples, thinking they are safe, but that long, narrow mouth reaches in and they snag someone with those numerous, sharp teeth. Toss them in the air. Chomp.
The Crocodylomorphs are just the crocodiles and their relatives. Crocodiles and alligators, while very cool and intelligent (they can use tools!), are not extinct. I’ve seen them at zoos. Some of you have seen them in the wild. Ah, but there were species that were entirely terrestrial that have gone extinct. It’s those terrestrial species with a weird, hunched gait that I want to see in Jurassic Park 8: Attack of the Sphenosuchians. Imagine quickly moving groups of dog to large deer sized crocodiles chasing down some kids, trying to eat them in one gulp.
Helicoprion is a shark. That’s not particularly interesting or scary for a movie about extinct animals running amok, right? But this shark has a circular saw-like structure of a lower jaw. A 25 foot long shark with a saw in its mouth could make for some frightening moments. Maybe just produce the sci-fi channel movie Buzzsaw: Shark from Hell.
Troodon are cool. They aren’t very big, standing shorter than your average person at full size. But they are nocturnal, intelligent, and likely pack animals. Our heroes in Jurassic Park 17 are on the run from the raptors. Then night falls. Our heroes think they’re safe because most of the parks predators are diurnal, designed to hunt using their vision and other senses when the sun is out. Now it’s dark and cloudy. No big carnivore is running around. Our heroes decide to take a break and maybe try and set up a fire. Then a pack of dinosaurs with brains nearly on bar with modern birds sneak around, deliberately, using their big eyes to pick up what tiny light they can in the dark. There’s a rustle in the bushes. Our heroes pull their weapons and are facing a pack of hunters as smart as any others… Oh, and they have serrated teeth. The kind of teeth that one could use to tear straight through flesh.
The best part, of course, is that all of these extinct creatures are real. No imaginary things needed. Dangerous – and maybe a little ridiculous – creatures from our past that we can populate Jurassic Park with. Slowly, meticulously stalking… Or swooping down. Or lumbering along. Just as long as someone gets gutted, then I’d watch.