A Handy Guide to the Creatures in the Jurassic World Trailer

Hold on to your butts! After a 13-year hiatus, the Jurassic Park series will finally come roaring back into theaters June 2015. The new flick’s first official trailer debuted today; here’s a brief introduction to the prehistoric critters it promises.   

1. Gallimimus (0:45-0:46)

Lived: Roughly 73 million years ago (late Cretaceous period)   

Range: Mongolia

Diet: Probable omnivore (possibly with a bias toward plants)

Maximum Length: Approximately 26 feet (8 meters)

Name Means: “Chicken mimic”

A JP veteran, Gallimimus can be seen racing through the first two films. This leggy creature belongs to a group of ostrich-like dinos known as ornithomimids, which once frolicked through present-day Asia and North America. Gallimimus’ jaws were both toothless and, in some places, only a few millimeters thick, so the creature may have swallowed tiny rocks called gastroliths to help break down un-chewed food inside its stomach.

Unfortunately, Jurassic World’s trailer does make one big mistake (scientifically) with its Gallimimus flock. Take a peek at their hands. You may notice that the animals’ palms are turned upwards as they run. In real life, these palms would have been facing each other in a “clapping” position similar to that used by modern birds. 

2. Stegosaurus (0:47-0:49)

Lived: Roughly 150 million years ago (late Jurassic period)

Range: Western North America

Diet: Herbivore  

Maximum Length: Approximately 30 feet (9 meters)

Name Means: “Roof lizard”

Beloved the world over for those dramatic back plates and spiky tail, Stegosaurus also featured chain mail-esque throat scales, presumably to guard its jugular. Oddly, the animals’ hind legs were significantly longer than its front ones, leading some experts to suggest that Stegosaurus may have reared up to snag low-hanging tree limbs. By the way, this dino’s spikes were meant for business: a hole which perfectly matches the tip of one was found in the fossilized backbone of an unlucky, flesh-eating Allosaurus. Yikes! 

3. Apatosaurus (0:47-0:49, 0:51-0:58)

Lived:  Roughly 150 million years ago (late Jurassic period)  

Range: Western North America

Diet: Herbivore; for more details, go here.  

Maximum Length: Approximately 80 feet (24 meters)

Name Means: “Deceptive lizard”

Back in April, a leaked Jurassic World brochure hinted that Apatosaurus might score some screen time. Thanks to a scientific screw-up, this big fellow’s best known for indirectly nullifying the name Brontosaurus, which had been given to a dinosaur that later turned out to actually have been an Apatosaurus species. An American sauropod, or long-necked dinosaur, Apatosaurus is notable for its bulky skeleton and weird neck anatomy (abnormally-large “cervical ribs” are anchored to its vertebrae, giving them strange, exaggerated shapes that’ve confused many a scientist).

4. Mosasaurus (1:06-1:10)

Lived: Roughly 66-70 million years ago (late Cretaceous period)

Range: Western Europe

Maximum Length: Approximately 56 feet (17 meters).

Diet: Carnivore

Name Means: “Meuse lizard” (after the Meuse river of northern Europe, where its remains were first discovered).

Unlike the other beasties in this preview, Mosasaurus wasn’t a dinosaur at all but instead a close relative of today’s snakes and monitor lizards (it may have even had a forked tongue). Ocean-going mosasaurs had flexible, serpent-like jaws and—like overgrown pythons—most species probably would have had to swallow their prey items whole (or at least in supersized chunks). Recent years have been good to mosasaur paleontology; we now know, for example, that these amazing predators had shark-style tail flukes.

And speaking of sharks, go back and restart the video at 1:06. Jurassic World’s customers clearly enjoy seeing the resident mosasaur devouring great whites, but the fossil record shows that some prehistoric sharks were capable of turning the tables and feeding on these reptiles. Maybe we’ll see a fight; cross your fingers!

5. Velociraptor (Sort of) (2:21-2:25)

Lived: Roughly 71-75 million years ago (late Cretaceous period)

Range: Mongolia

Maximum Length: Approximately 6.5 feet (2 meters)

Diet: Carnivore

Name Means: “Swift robber”

The so-called Velociraptors in all four Jurassic Park movies actually look almost nothing like the genuine article. In fact, they were based on a related dino known as Deinonychus, which was appreciably bigger but still fell a bit short of JP’s raptors dimension-wise.

Velociraptor doesn’t need Hollywood’s help to be interesting. The carnivore definitely didn’t fly, yet its upper arm bones came with “quill knobs”—anchoring points onto which powerful feathers are rooted in modern birds. Its tail contained bony rods that could have stiffened the appendage into a handy counterbalancing tool for making narrow turns.

And recent research suggests that, contrary to what Steven Spielberg might have you believe, those dreaded sickle-shaped claws were built not for slashing but for gripping. Theoretically, a hungry Velociraptor would leap onto its victim, bury those digits, and hang on for a deadly rodeo. Now there’s a cinematic image for ya!

BONUS: Random, Genetically-Modified, Man-Eating Hybrid (-asaurus)

Yeah, Jurassic World’s plot includes a brand-new dino-monster with spliced DNA and a serious attitude. What DNA will this dino have? We'll just have to wait for the movie to find out. 

Original image
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Construction Workers in Colorado Discover 66-Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skeleton
Original image
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Construction projects have yielded some pretty amazing ancient finds: ancient ports, Stone Age homes, forgotten cemeteries, burial grounds, and even the bones of King Richard III. Now, The Denver Post reports that workers in Thornton, Colorado, just north of Denver, recently discovered a 66-million-year-old adult triceratops skull, along with other bones, while breaking ground for the city's new public safety facility. It's an incredibly rare find as most of the fossils found in the region are about 12,000 years old.

Instead of digging on—which may have destroyed the skeleton—the workers contacted experts to take a closer look. Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, was called to the scene to examine the bones.

"This is what we as curators dream about—getting a call about a possible fossil and confirming it's not just a dinosaur fossil, but a record-breaking one!" Sertich said in a statement.

Museum staff, construction staff, and museum volunteers work to excavate the Thornton triceratops skeleton on August 30, 2017.
Museum staff, construction staff, and museum volunteers work to excavate the skeleton on August 30, 2017.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

So far, scientists and volunteer diggers have unearthed the skull, two horns, a portion of the dinosaur's frill, shoulder bones, the beak at the front of the lower jaw, and ribs and vertebrae. The skeleton appears to be separated, indicating that the dinosaur may have died and lain on the ground for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, according to The Washington Post. As it decayed, its bones and flesh fell apart, and other dinosaurs, like T. rex, may have even taken a nibble at the corpse.

Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, speaks with a construction worker while leading the excavation in Thornton, Colorado of a newly discovered triceratops skeleton.
Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, speaks with a construction worker while leading the excavation in Thornton, Colorado of a newly discovered triceratops skeleton.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Experts say the triceratops skeleton could be the most complete Cretaceous dinosaur ever discovered in the Front Range region, and one of the oldest fossils. They've also noted that the newly discovered dino fits a larger pattern: When found in the Denver area, triceratops are typically half the size of similar ones that once lived in the Dakotas and Montana.

A closeup of the triceratops fossil as it's unearthed in Thornton, Colorado.
A closeup of the triceratops fossil as it's unearthed.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

"We don't really know why," Sertich said in a Facebook Live broadcast. "Even though we have hundreds of triceratops from the American West, we only have three good skulls. And this might be one of the best skeletons to tell us why Denver triceratops are smaller than all of their cousins everywhere else."

[h/t The Denver Post]

Original image
© Zachary James Johnston, The Field Museum
SUE the T. Rex Is Getting a Makeover
Original image
© Zachary James Johnston, The Field Museum

Our lives are constantly changing—even those of us who are already dead. The beloved fossilized T. rex skeleton known as SUE will soon be treated to a makeover and new digs at The Field Museum in Chicago.

SUE’s move is motivated by more than just luxury; the museum needs to clear out its great hall to make room for the largest dinosaur ever discovered. A private donor has bestowed the museum with a full-size cast of the Argentinean titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum.

Illustration of a titanosaur cast in a great hall.
The Field Museum

The touchable 122-foot-long marvel will stretch across Stanley Field Hall and upward into the second story. SUE will be disassembled in 2018 and eventually relocated to a fancy new suite in another hall along with other fossil specimens.

Illustration comparing the size of a titanosaur, a human, and a T. rex.
The Field Museum

“At 40.5 feet long, she’s the world’s biggest T. rex, but in that giant hall, people sometimes remark that she’s smaller than they expected,” senior exhibitions project manager Hilary Hansen said in a statement.

“By putting her in her own gallery in our Evolving Planet exhibition, she’ll be put into the proper context of her fellow dinosaurs, and she’ll dominate the room.”

(SUE’s sex is unknown, but many museum staffers take a cue from the fossil’s ladylike name and use female pronouns.)

With the new setup comes a whole new look. The SUE we see today is incomplete; when the skeleton was assembled in 2000, dinosaur curators omitted one group of bones, unsure where to put them. They’ve since figured it out. The bones are gastralia, which cage the stomach area like a lower set of ribs.

Dinosaur gastralia arrayed  in a bed of sand.
© Zachary James Johnston, The Field Museum

T. rex had a bulging belly,” associate curator of dinosaurs Pete Makovicky said in the statement. “It wasn’t sleek and gazelle-like the way you might think.”

Over the last two decades since SUE’s assembly we’ve learned a lot about the way SUE and family looked and moved. Makovicky and his colleagues also plan to tinker with SUE’s posture so that upon the grand re-debut in 2019, “she’ll be walking rather than skulking.”

Or strutting, more accurately. The gloating dinosaur’s Twitter bio now reads “Private Suite Haver.”

Never one to be left out of the conversation, SUE issued a public comment, writing, “For years now, I've been pitching this to the Museum. A room with a better defensible position against velociraptor attacks and reduced exposure to possible meteorite collisions. Finally, the mammals in charge have come to their senses."


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