This is a great time for entertainment dinosars. In the room there is Jurassic World: Domination, third chapter of the new Jurassic trilogy inaugurated in 1993 by Steven Spielberg, but The Prehistoric Planet has recently arrived on Apple TV +, which shows us these animals with a different and documentary approach. The reason is simple: “We cannot look away when we are in the presence of these animals. We invented dragons, unicorns and sea monsters, but the dinosaurs are real, they lived on the same planet we are on now. They are dead, we must not be afraid of them. , but they can only fascinate us. “ These are the words of Steve Brusatte, world-renowned paleontologist, author of books such as Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and now scientific consultant on Colin Trevorrow’s film and also on the Apple series. In short, one of those to whom we owe the dinosaurs that we are lucky enough to be able to admire in this period.
An email from Colin Trevorrow
But how did this collaboration start? Steve Brusatte he explained it to us with the same enthusiasm he must have felt in 2018, when it all started: “my book Rise and Decline of the Dinosaurs was out a couple of months before Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom arrived, because if you have a book that talks about the subject, it’s obvious to line up with a blockbuster like that, and a couple of months I later got an email with the subject ‘I read your book’, from someone claiming to be Colin Trevorrow. Obviously I recognized the name, because he was the director of Jurassic World, but I thought it was a joke. “ In the message, Trevorrow said that he was going to Edinburgh and that he would like to talk to him and that is what they did after due verification that it was not actually a joke.
The occasion was the town’s Fringe Festival, which the director visited with his family, and the meeting lasted a couple of hours. “He told me: I’m starting to write the next movie, I want a lot of new dinosaurs and I want to include some feathers on some of them. Do you want to help me do that?” Brusatte recalled who stressed how it was “a real honor to be able to do it” and how it is “impressed by what came out of it, especially for the feathered dinosaurs and the novelties introduced.”
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New dinosaurs for the franchise
Colin Trevorrow already had very specific ideas of what the story of Jurassic World: Domination would be like when Brusatte was involved, but the processing was still at an early stage. “I didn’t get too many details about it, because I didn’t want to torment them too much” but admitted that he tried to get them to include one of the dinosaurs he named, a smaller cousin of the T-Rex, “faster, more agile”, nicknamed Pinocchio Rex for the long snout, which is one of his favorites. But he is equally pleased with the ones Trevorrow identified that have been added to the film, from Pyroraptor to Therizinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus and Moros Intrepidus, including those that are not actual dinosaurs, such as flying reptiles. “Overall it’s a great cast of new characters and there are so many dinosaurs to choose from that I don’t feel like criticizing for the ones left out.”
A question of feathers
We have been talking about for some time feathers and especially of their absence for the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. “The first film came out in 1993 and it was a revolution” Steve Brusatte explained thinking about the impact of that film and its dinosaurs on the popular imagination, “but it had bad timing because only three years later, in 1996, the first Chinese fossils emerged that clearly showed the presence of feathers. When Spielberg made the first film, it was not known that dinosaurs had feathers and not. it was possible to add them later, because it’s a series and the animal design was well established. “
So you couldn’t glue the feathers on the Velociraptors, because “would have confused the public”. Colin Trevorrow knew this well, but he had already decided to include species like Pyroraptor and Therizinosaurus, “which are the two main feathered dinosaurs we see in the film along with the Moros who is a small tyrannosaurus. So the decision was his and my job was to help them make them as accurate as possible.”
On the other hand, Brusatte has direct experiences with Chinese fossils and cannot forget the sensations felt at the sight of these incredible finds: “The first time I saw one live it was magical: it was this magnificent specimen, you could see the feathers so clearly. So similar to a bird today, but it was a dinosaur that lived 125 million years ago. the opportunity to study many of them, take them out of the drawers, photograph them, measure them, give them a name. It is an incredible experience to be in front of one of these fossils. “
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And feathers are one of the most difficult aspects for CGI artists to render on screen. “Feathers are difficult, they require a lot of time, a lot of patience to make them at their best, but for a consultant like me the task is to make sure that the scientific aspect is accurate even in a context of different interests at stake. They are still films. of monsters, they must be frightening and exciting. Animals must have a personality and withstand the stories that concern them. You must also be able to recognize them on screen and they do not have clothes that allow you to characterize them and therefore everyone must have their own distinctive style. I was making sure the people responsible for working on it had the right scientific information, so they could use it as needed. “
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Brusatte and the films of the franchise
Of course, he doesn’t forget the first time he saw Jurassic Park. “I was nine and saw it in the cinema with my father and my brothers. It blew us away! The effects were way beyond anything we had ever seen before and the dinosaurs were so realistic, like real animals and not monsters, in how they looked and how they looked. the way they moved. That experience stayed with us, we started collecting Jurassic Park toys, books and I thought it would be cool to study dinosaurs as a job. So I became a paleontologist. “
But there are scenes that also hit him in Jurassic World: Domination, which he considers “a great cinematic experience”. It is for the dinosaurs he brings to the screen, but also for the return of the historical characters of the franchise, which we see together with the protagonists of the new trilogy.
“My favorite scene is the Pyroraptor scene. A real feathered dinosaur in all its glory, with feathers and wings. It looks like a crazy bird, it’s scary. People often tell me that the feathers on dinosaurs make them clumsy, which ruins the their childhood and they are no longer scary. They joke? First of all they had feathers, it is a fact. Secondly to me they are even scarier. Have you ever faced a turkey, an ostrich or an emu? Or just think of a seagull stealing a piece of pizza swooping from you on the beach. Isn’t that scary? The Pyroraptor scene shows how bad they could look. But also the sequence where Bryce Dallas Howard hides in the water to escape Therizinosaurus. , another feathered dinosaur: the scene is constructed in an interesting and different way than expected, different from a monster movie. “
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Man vs Dinosaurs
But let’s think about the premise of the film: humans and dinosaurs sharing the same environment. What would happen according to Steve Brusatte? “First of all it would be scary to know that there is a T-Rex or Velociraptor around the world. Get in your car, ride a bike or go to a shop, whatever you do, knowing that there is a Velociraptor around would be terrifying. But the second thing to consider is that we already co-exist with lions and tigers and wolves and other ferocious mammals. So did our ancestors with saber-toothed tigers and other dangerous animals. And it’s not like lions constantly attack either. they chase humans. We coexist with dangerous predators, but we don’t happen to be chased regularly. So I think it would be dangerous to coexist with dinosaurs, there would be a lot of accidents, but you wouldn’t see a lot going around. “
Brusatte has written a lot about dinosaurs in the past, but his latest work focuses on a topic that touches us most closely: mammals, of which we are part. Rise and Regin of Mammals is in fact the book he just came out, soon to be published also in Italy, which deals with “What happened when the dinosaurs left the scene. Mammals took over world domination and the book is the story of their evolution, how they survived for millions of years alongside the dinosaurs and how they later spread to become bats, whales, elephants, monkeys, dogs and cats. And us. But by telling the story this way, I emphasize that it is not all about humans, that we are just one type of mammal. This is our larger story, than ours. big family. But we also talk about dinosaurs, because they are important for us mammals, they are the ones that forced us to stay small, to live at night and develop hair to protect ourselves, to evolve different types of teeth to feed and new types of ears to hear. What makes us mammals evolved to survive in a world dominated by dinosaurs. “