Scientists' feathers ruffled over Jurassic Park 4 dinos

By Paul Harper

Sam Neill in a scene from Jurassic Park. Photo/supplied
Sam Neill in a scene from Jurassic Park. Photo/supplied

Palaeontologists are "pissed off" that the dinosaurs in the upcoming Jurassic Park film will not have feathers.

Evidence has been piling up since the first Jurassic Park film came out in 1993 that many dinosaurs were in fact feathered, New Scientist reports.

However the director of the fourth installment of the films, Colin Trevorrow last month tweeted: "No feathers. #JP4".

While dinosaurs have long been depicted as leathery-skinned lizards, evidence points to many dinosaurs, including velociraptors and some tyrannosaurs, having feathers adorning their bodies.

Palaeontologist and film consultant Mark Witton said he would be disappointed if filmmakers had decided against putting feathers on the dinosaurs.

"It seems like an overlooked opportunity to bring the dinosaur-bird themes of the first movie full circle, jars with overwhelming evidence that some JP dinosaur stars were feathered, and misses an terrific chance to affirm modern concepts of dinosaur palaeobiology with a wide audience," he wrote in his blog.

Palaeontologist Darren Naish, from the University of Southampton, UK, agreed.

"I'm pissed off by a disregard for knowledge," Naish told New Scientist. "It helps perpetuate the notion that dinosaurs were all scaly dragons, alien and unlike modern animals."

National Geographic science writer Brian Switek said the decision would "ignore some of the coolest science palaeontology has to offer".

"... If Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus are reprising their roles, these dinosaurs should certainly have some kind of plumage. That comes right from fossil evidence and evolutionary logic."

The tweet is all Trevorrow has said on the issue, and Witton hopes he was simply testing the waters to see what reaction featherless-dinosaurs would get with fans of the franchise.

Jurassic Park 4 is due to be released in June next year.

The dinosaur franchise has grossed US$1.9 billion at the box office worldwide since the first film was released in 1993.

- nzherald.co.nz

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