25 Things Turning 25 in 2017


If you were born in 1992, you're in good company! Here's our annual list celebrating 25 things (people, companies, movies, books, etc.) turning 25 this year.


On February 14, Wayne's World graduated from Saturday Night Live sketch to feature film. No way?! Way!! Featuring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and directed by Penelope Spheeris, it was a landmark comedy that both reflected and affected '90s pop culture. It single-handedly revived Queen's song "Bohemian Rhapsody," introduced the world to the intellectualism of Alice Cooper, and convinced teens that public-access TV was worthwhile after all. As a pair of wise men once said: "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"


On December 3, 1992, 22-year-old engineer Neil Papworth sent the first text message over a cellular network. He used a computer connected to the Vodafone GSM network to send the message to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis's Orbitel 901 mobile phone (which was gigantic, but technically "mobile" by 1992 standards). The message read: "Merry Christmas." Why the early Christmas greeting? Jarvis was at a Christmas party at the time.


To the immense frustration of adults and delight of toddlers, the purple dinosaur Barney appeared on PBS on April 6. Barney & Friends was initially envisioned four years earlier as a direct-to-video series called Barney & The Backyard Gang created by Sheryl Leach, a Dallas elementary school teacher who wanted to create toddler-appropriate programming for her kids. (She noted that most programming for kids assumed too long an attention span, which led to the simplistic bits featured on Barney.)

If you missed this moment in television history, let's catch you up. Barney is a giant purple Tyrannosaurus rex made of cloth, who likes to sing and dance. He is utterly non-threatening, essentially a scaled-up version of a plush dinosaur toy. When a People Magazine article called the lyrics to Barney's songs "stupid," an era of Barney-bashing began. Toddlers didn't care one bit, and clamored for Barney merchandise, as an actor in a six-foot tall Barney costume embarked on a mall tour in December.


On August 11, the Mall of America—the largest mall in the United States—opened in Bloomington, Minnesota. This was just one of many projects enacted by Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich, who created a World Trade Center in St. Paul, received a visit from Mikhail Gorbachev, and brought the Super Bowl to the Twin Cities in 1992.

The Mall of America was indeed the largest in the U.S., covering approximately 2.7 million square feet, though it was actually smaller than the Edmonton Mall in Canada. U.S. visitors didn't mind, as Minnesota's Mall contained, as the Los Angeles Times reported:

... the nation's largest indoor amusement park, the world's largest parking ramp, the world's largest indoor planting of live shrubs, the world's largest indoor miniature golf course, and arguably the world's largest concentration of Tivoli lights.

Asked about the Mall, humorist Garrison Keillor joked:

"Minnesota is where the shopping mall was invented, so it's natural that the biggest one should be there ... but some people disappear in them and never come out, thousands in Minnesota alone, and the Mall of America is going to triple the toll.

... Fifteen thousand shoppers will vanish in the next year, never to bring their purchases home, and the terrible tragedy is that they will not be particularly missed. Their families will simply order duplicate credit cards and go on without them."

The Mall eventually included 400 stores, 14 movie theaters, seven restaurants, five nightclubs, and 31,000 live trees and shrubs.


On October 1, the first 24-hour channel devoted to cartoons debuted, courtesy of the Turner Broadcasting System. The channel was based in part on TBS's purchase of Hanna-Barbera and its back catalog, which contained roughly 1500 hours of animated content spread across 350 TV series and movies.

Jeffry Scott of the Cox News Service reported:

In a private ceremony Thursday, [Ted] Turner himself will launch the channel with a push of an Acme dynamite plunger on the front lawn of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.’s facility on Techwood Drive [in Atlanta].

The plunger will spark a fuse, which will explode a barrel of colored chicken feathers and confetti. Then, on a huge TV screen will pop the picture: a cartoon character named Droopy Dog introducing the world to Turner’s new "cartoon universe."


On May 5, the landmark game Wolfenstein 3D brought stunning first-person shooter graphics to DOS PCs. Developed by id Software, the game had a WWII theme, and you played as Allied spy B.J. Blazkowicz on a series of anti-Nazi missions. It was violent, it was technologically advanced, and it was a massive hit.

Considered the "grandfather of 3D shooters," Wolfenstein 3D was followed up quickly by Doom, which led to an explosion of first-person shooter games. Wolfenstein 3D was also hugely influential in proving the viability of shareware publishing, as the best-selling shareware of 1992.

You can play Wolfenstein 3D online for free using most modern desktop browsers.


From July 25 to August 9, the 1992 Summer Olympic Games were held in Barcelona. They're best known—to American audiences, anyway—for the performance of the U.S. men's basketball team, which was the first to include current NBA players. We called it the "Dream Team."

The Dream Team featured an all-star lineup of 11 NBA players: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin. There was also a twelfth member, college player Christian Laettner (who would go on to the NBA). Their goal was to bring home a Gold Medal, and they crushed it.

They won all eight of their Barcelona games, with an average lead of 44 points. Interestingly, although the Dream Team did a great job, the 1956 U.S. team exceeded their performance, with an average of +56 points per game. Still, the Dream Team is often considered the best team ever assembled in any sport.


Dr. Dre released his first solo album on December 15. It was a masterpiece of hip-hop production, and it was Dre's first appearance outside of N.W.A. The Chronic included tons of appearances by Snoop Dogg, kickstarting his career.

1992 was a huge year for ex-N.W.A. members releasing solo albums. In that same year, Ice Cube released The Predator, Eazy-E released 5150: Home 4 tha Sick, and MC Ren released Kizz My Black Azz. (D.O.C. was also involved with The Chronic.)


The USDA released its first Food Guide Pyramid in 1992. This guide was just the latest in a long series of food guidance offered by the USDA [PDF], but it was the first to take a pyramid shape. (The USDA based its design initially on Sweden's food pyramid, though the contents differed.)

Based on a broad platform of "Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta," the guide's visual design was informed by consumer research [PDF], which compared (among other things) a "bowl" shape divided into segments versus the pyramid design. The research read, in part:

... the differences between the pyramid and the bowl in communicating the proportionality and moderation concepts were large and highly significant (p<.001). Higher scores for the pyramid were consistent across all the subpopulations examined, including those for whom concern was greatest—children and individuals on food assistance programs.

In 2005, the USDA switched to what it called "MyPyramid," and in 2011 ditched the whole pyramid thing in favor of "MyPlate." The Food Pyramid's guidance remains controversial.


On April 12, Euro Disney opened in Paris. French citizens weren't too enthused, seeing it as an invasion of American commercialism. (Disney CEO Michael Eisner was hit with eggs and presented with "Mickey, Go Home!" protest signs when he appeared at the Paris stock exchange.) Americans weren't particularly keen either, already having world-class Disney parks at home. Visitors couldn't even drink wine in the park when it first opened. French commentators called it a "cultural Chernobyl."

The park was eventually renamed Disneyland Paris, and became the most-visited tourist attraction in Europe. In 2015 it attracted more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined. Unfortunately, this visitor traffic has not led to profit, and the park has faced financial troubles over the decades.


Super Mario Kart started the Mario Kart racing game franchise on August 27, when it debuted in Japan. (It was released on September 1 in the U.S.) It boasted a multiplayer split-screen mode as well as excellent graphics (at least for a Super Nintendo game). Super Mario Kart went on to sell more than eight million cartridges and spawned many sequels.


IBM debuted its first ThinkPad laptop on October 5, 1992. Its name was inspired by an old line of IBM paper notepads that bore the slogan "Think." Although IBM introduced three sleek black ThinkPad models, the ThinkPad 700c was the star. It featured a 10.4-inch color screen, integrated TrackPoint pointing device (that little red nubbin in the middle of the keyboard), and a beefy 486 CPU. It was truly a powerful computer for its era, and at just 7.6 pounds, it was considered very portable. Of course, its $4350 price tag was a problem, but there were cheaper options (with monochrome displays) in the lineup.

Today the ThinkPad is manufactured by Lenovo, but its design and build quality are still reminiscent of that original 700C—minus most of the weight.


In 1982, researchers began working on a computer file format that would store photographic data. The goal was to compress images so that photographs would be small, making them easy to download over low-bandwidth connections, and easy to store on small storage devices. The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) formed in 1986 to develop the compression standard.

On September 18, the first JPEG standard was published, and the rest is computer history. The JPEG's ability to handle photographs (and other kinds of detailed imagery) while tossing out extraneous data makes it similar to the MP3 format for sound. Throughout the 1990s, JPEG joined file formats like GIF as the basis for web pages, and you're still looking at JPEGs on this website today!


In 1992, the first prescription nicotine patch reached the market—four years later, it became available over-the-counter. The patch was developed by Dr. Murray E. Jarvik, a UCLA pharmacologist (and nonsmoker) who figured that delivering nicotine to smokers via a skin patch could curb their cravings, helping them to quit smoking.

Jarvik had a long history working with nicotine; in the 1960s he taught monkeys to smoke cigarettes and established that nicotine was the addictive ingredient. That discovery led to nicotine gum and eventually the transdermal patch.


Starting on April 13, pre-addressed ballots appeared at post offices around the U.S. They allowed the public to vote on two proposed designs for a stamp bearing the image of Elvis Presley. The key question: Should we show young Elvis or old Elvis? (Ahem, "mature" Elvis, with sequined white jumpsuit.) People Magazine ran a full-page ad asking the public to "Decide which Elvis is King." The vote ended on April 24, so there was a frenzy to acquire these ballots and make votes in the minimal time they were available.

The vote was a matter of public debate, with designs created by artists Mark Stutzman and John Berkey. (These were the finalists after eight artists submitted 60 sketches to the U.S. Postal Service.) More than 1.2 million ballots were cast, with roughly 75 percent of them selecting Stutzman's "young Elvis" painting.

The Elvis stamp itself was released on January 8, 1993—on what would have been Elvis's 58th birthday.


The Muppet Christmas Carol sleighed into theaters on December 11, 1992. An adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic, the film starred Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, along with the classic Muppet characters. (Kermit played Bob Cratchit and Gonzo played Charles Dickens himself, as the narrator.) It was the first Muppet movie made without Jim Henson.

The film was directed by Brian Henson, Jim's son. Jim had died on May 16, 1990, so Kermit was played by Steve Whitmire. Longtime Muppet puppeteer Richard Hunt died on January 7, 1992 before production began, and his characters (including Statler, Beaker, and Janice) were handled by other performers. The film was dedicated to the memory of the two men.


Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991, aged 45. He was the first rock star to die from AIDS complications, and the remaining members of the band Queen organized a concert to promote AIDS awareness.

The tribute concert was held at London's Wembley Stadium on April 20, 1992. It featured a star-studded lineup including David Bowie, George Michael, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Elton John, Metallica, Annie Lennox, Guns N' Roses, Seal, and U2. It was broadcast live to an international TV audience.

If you haven't seen the concert, head over to YouTube. It's fantastic. (The entire three-hour concert is also available for rent on various online services.)


"November Rain" is one of Guns N' Roses's longest songs, clocking in just shy of nine minutes. A lot of that is extended guitar solos and orchestral segments. To go with the song, the band put together an epic music video which, somehow, has more than 700 million views on YouTube.

Directed by Andy Morahan (who also directed such masterpieces as George Michael's "Faith"), the video featured model Stephanie Seymour—then Axl Rose's girlfriend—as his wife. The video cost more than $1.5 million to make (at the time, the highest-budget music video ever). A big chunk of that budget was devoted to building a chapel in the desert so Slash could wail in front of it while a helicopter zoomed by.

The video is famously complex, so much so that in 2014 Slash admitted that he had "no idea" what it meant. He commented, in part, "I knew there was a wedding in there somewhere and I was not into the concept of the wedding."


On November 25, The Bodyguard—starring Kevin Costner as the titular bodyguard and Whitney Houston as the pop star he's protecting—graced theaters. It was Houston's first film role, and it was a massive box office hit.

But more important than the movie was its soundtrack: Houston's iconic cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" was the standout hit, and the soundtrack was a blockbuster, currently ranked the 16th bestselling record of all time, and it is the number one bestselling soundtrack.

At one point in 1993, the soundtrack held five simultaneous number one positions on the Billboard charts. Now that's a hit record.


On May 22, 1992, Johnny Carson finished his run as host of The Tonight Show on NBC. On May 25, Jay Leno became the new host, and Billy Crystal was his first guest. Branford Marsalis led The Tonight Show band, and Ed Hall was the new announcer. After Billy Crystal on that first episode, the guests were performer Shanice Wilson and Robert Krulwich (later co-host of Radiolab).

Leno was the fourth host of the show. Steve Allen was first, followed by Jack Paar, then Johnny Carson's incredible three-decade run. Leno hosted from 1992-2014 (with a brief interruption where Conan O'Brien had the gig from 2009-2010). After Leno's retirement in 2014, Jimmy Fallon took the hosting job and remains there today.


In a surprising turn, Star Wars: The Force Awakens costars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were both born in 1992. The Force is strong with this year. Here's a rundown of some famous birth dates:

Taylor Lautner - February 11

John Boyega - March 17

Daisy Ridley - April 10

Kate Upton - June 10

Selena Gomez - July 22

Demi Lovato - August 20

Nick Jonas - September 16

Miley Cyrus - November 23


In 1992, lawyers Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck founded The Innocence Project. The organization's mission is to exonerate wrongfully convicted (innocent) people and reform the criminal justice system that convicted them in the first place. One of their key tools is DNA analysis, which sometimes was not available at the time of conviction.

To date, The Innocence Project has been involved with hundreds of exonerations, including cases in which they have helped find the actual perpetrator.


1992 was an incredible year for alternative and hip-hop bands. Here's a partial list of bands formed that year:

Blink-182 (initially as "Blink")

Built to Spill


Collective Soul

Digable Planets


Tha Dogg Pound

Hanson (initially as "The Hanson Brothers")

Harvey Danger


Less Than Jake

Nada Surf

Porno for Pyros

Seven Mary Three


Soul Coughing

Sunny Day Real Estate


Wu-Tang Clan


In 1992, brothers Dane and Travis Boersma opened the first Dutch Bros. Coffee location in Grants Pass, Oregon. The brothers were of Dutch descent, hence the company's name. They were former dairy farmers, trying their hand at a new business. They proceeded immediately on their mission of "Roastin' and Rockin'," then proceeded to spread across the country to more than 260 locations that continue "spreading the Dutch Luv" [sic].


On February 1, U.S. President George H.W. Bush met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin at Camp David. The two issued a join declaration formally ending the Cold War, and declaring a new era of "friendship and partnership" between the two nations.

At the announcement, Yeltsin said, in part:

"Today one might say that there has been written and drawn a new line, and crossed out all of the things that have been associated with the Cold War.

From now on we do not consider ourselves to be potential enemies, as it had been previously in our military doctrine. This is the historic value of this meeting. And another very important factor in our relationship, right away today, it's already been pointed out that in the future there'll be full frankness, full openness, full honesty in our relationship."

The Joint Declaration promised all sorts of great stuff, including reducing strategic arsenals, promoting free trade, and promoting "respect for human rights." You can read the whole declaration for a taste of what the future looked like in 1992.

10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Dog Owner

The bickering between cat people and dog people is ongoing and vicious, but in the end, we're all better off for loving a pet. But if anyone tries to poo-poo your pooch, know that there are some scientific reasons that they're man's best friend.


Dog snuggling on a bed with its person.

If cleaning commercials are to be believed, humanity is in the midst of a war against germs—and we shouldn't stop until every single one is dead. In reality, the amount of disinfecting we do is making us sicker; since our bodies are exposed to a less diverse mix of germs, our entire microbiome is messed up. Fortunately, dogs are covered in germs! Having a dog in the house means more diverse bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found "dog-related biodiversity" is especially high on pillowcases). In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people—especially children—with cats or no pets.


Child and mother playing with a dog on a bed.

While dog dander can be a trigger for people with allergies, growing up in a house with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies over the course of their lives. And the benefits can start during gestation; a 2017 study published in the journal Microbiome found that a bacterial exchange happened between women who lived with pets (largely dogs) during pregnancy and their children, regardless of type of birth or whether the child was breastfed, and even if the pet was not in the home after the birth of the child. Those children tested had two bacteria, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira, that reduce the risk of common allergies, asthma, and obesity, and they were less likely to develop eczema.


Woman doing yoga with her dog.

Everything about owning a dog seems to lend itself to better heart health. Just the act of petting a dog lowers heart rate and blood pressure. A 2017 Chinese study found a link between dog ownership and reduced risk of coronary artery disease, while other studies show pet owners have slightly lower cholesterol and are more likely to survive a heart attack.


Person running in field with a dog.

While other pets have positive effects on your health as well, dogs have the added benefit of needing to be walked and played with numerous times a day. This means that many dog owners are getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease.


Woman cuddling her dog.

Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Even for those people who are clinically depressed, having a pet to take care of can help them out of a depressive episode. Since taking care of a dog requires a routine and forces you to stay at least a little active, dog owners are more likely to interact with others and have an increased sense of well-being while tending to their pet. The interaction with and love received from a dog can also help people stay positive. Even the mere act of looking at your pet increases the amount of oxytocin, the "feel good" chemical, in the brain.


Large bulldog licking a laughing man.

Not only does dog ownership indirectly tell others that you're trustworthy, your trusty companion can help facilitate friendships and social networks. A 2015 study published in PLOS One found that dogs can be both the catalyst for sparking new relationships and also the means for keeping social networks thriving. One study even showed that those with dogs also had closer and more supportive relationships with the people in their lives.


Man high-fiving his dog.

Your dog could save your life one day: It seems that our canine friends have the ability to smell cancer in the human body. Stories abound of owners whose dogs kept sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body so they got it checked out, discovering it was cancerous. The anecdotal evidence has been backed up by scientific studies, and some dogs are now trained to detect cancer.


Woman working on a computer while petting a dog.

The benefits of bringing a dog to work are so increasingly obvious that more companies are catching on. Studies show that people who interact with a pet while working have lower stress levels throughout the day, while people who do not bring a pet see their stress levels increase over time. Dogs in the office also lead to people taking more breaks, to play with or walk the dog, which makes them more energized when they return to work. This, in turn, has been shown to lead to much greater productivity and job satisfaction.


Man running in surf with dog.

The kind of dog you have says a lot about your personality. A study in England found a very clear correlation between people's personalities and what type of dogs they owned; for example, people who owned toy dogs tended to be more intelligent, while owners of utility dogs like Dalmatians and bulldogs were the most conscientious. Other studies have found that dog owners in general are more outgoing and friendly than cat owners.


A young boy having fun with his dog.

Though one 2003 study found that there was no link between pet ownership and empathy in a group of children, a 2017 study of 1000 7- to 12-year-olds found that pet attachment of any kind encouraged compassion and positive attitudes toward animals, which promoted better well-being for both the child and the pet. Children with dogs scored the highest for pet attachment, and the study notes that "dogs may help children to regulate their emotions because they can trigger and respond to a child's attachment related behavior." And, of course, only one pet will happily play fetch with a toddler.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.
16 Prehistoric Creatures You’ll See In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Chris Pratt meets the vicious T. rex in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Chris Pratt meets the vicious T. rex in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.

The sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World ups the ante with a huge roster of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine reptiles. While some are familiar favorites (see: T. rex), others have never been seen in a major motion picture before. Pull off your nostalgia goggles and let’s take a look at what modern science has to say about the long-gone animals of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.


Lived: 68 to 66 million years ago in North America

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum Length: 40 feet

Name Means: “Tyrant lizard”

Apparently, the most popular dinosaur of all time wasn’t above cannibalism: Multiple Tyrannosaurus rex bones have bite marks on them that match the teeth of other tyrannosaurid species. Debate has arisen over the issue of T. rex plumage. University of Alberta paleontologist Scott Persons recently compared tiny skin impressions left behind by Tyrannosaurus and its close cousins Gorgosaurus, Daspletosaurus, and Tarbosaurus. These reveal that the dinos had pebbly scales, but the samples contain no evidence of feathers. Keep in mind though that the skin impressions only represent small patches of the dinosaurs’ tails, necks, abdomens, and pelvises—so Tyrannosaurus might’ve had feathers elsewhere on its body. For the record, Persons thinks the giant carnivore would still look “pretty cool and plenty scary” with a little fuzz. “[Nobody] ever complained that tigers weren’t scary, and they’re fluffy,” he said.


Artistic interpretation of an individual of A. louisae arching its neck down to drink
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Lived: 155 to 150 million years ago in North America

Diet: Herbivore.

Maximum length: 80 feet

Name means: “Deceptive lizard”

In 1879, an unidentified sauropod (a long-necked dinosaur) was found in Wyoming. At first, this creature was given the name Brontosaurus excelsus but in 1903, paleontologist Elmer Riggs rechristened it as Apatosaurus excelsus (the Apatosaurus had been described before the Brontosaurus, so the name had precedence). A few scientists now think the Brontosaurus and Apatosarus actually are distinct and the much better-known name ought to be reinstated for that particular group, but others disagree. Regardless, Apatosaurus was pretty awesome. Some of its bones were pneumatic and the body contained a number of air sacs. Such traits would’ve made the big plant-eater very lightweight for an animal of its size. Apatosaurus may have also been able to break the sound barrier by cracking its sinuous tail like a bullwhip.


Lived: 68 to 66 million years ago in North America

Diet: Herbivore

Maximum length: 29 feet

Name means: “Three-horned face”

Give credit where it’s due: Look at the baby Triceratops in Fallen Kingdom and you may notice that the horns above its eyes curve backward ever so slightly. This is scientifically accurate. The brow horns of Triceratops newborns were tiny bumps which bent backward during the adolescent years. Then they changed course and bowed forward while the animals matured. Puncture wounds and lesions on the skulls of adult Triceratops tell us these animals locked horns in head-to-head combat. Triceratops was constantly replacing its teeth, which were arranged in tight clusters and most likely used to shear through fibrous vegetation.


Lived: 75 to 66 million years ago in China

Diet: Herbivore

Maximum length: 19 feet

Name means: “Chinese horned face”

A newcomer to the Jurassic Park films, Sinoceratops first came to light during a 2008 fossil-hunting excursion into China’s Shandong Province. It belongs to the same family as Triceratops and was the first member of this group to be found in Chinese rock. Small, forward-bending horns lined the top of its frill, which was proportionally smaller than that of Triceratops. A single cone-shaped horn sat over the nostrils.


Lived: 155.7 to 150 million years ago in North America and Portugal and possibly elsewhere

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum length: 28 (or possibly 35) feet

Name means: “Different lizard”

In one of the trailers for Fallen Kingdom, a running Allosaurus falls flat on its face. The dinosaur was no stranger to injury in real life. Cracked ribs, broken arms, and badly-infected toes are just a few of the medical maladies that Allosaurus skeletons have been preserved with. Selected as Utah’s official state fossil in 1988, Allosaurus is one of the most commonly found predatory dinos in the American west. Strong neck muscles may have allowed the carnivore to disembowel prey by pulling its head backward in a falcon-esque tugging motion. And here’s something we’d really like to see on the silver screen: According to a 2015 study, Allosaurus could possibly open its jaws at a nightmarish 92-degree angle.


Lived: 70 to 66 million years ago in Europe and North America

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum length: 56 feet

Name means: “Lizard of the Meuse River” (It was first discovered along this European river in 1764.)

Mosasaurus wasn’t a dinosaur; it’s more closely related to snakes and monitor lizards than it is to any of the other creatures you’ll read about here. Both Jurassic World flicks show the marine reptile leaping high out of the water to snag unwary prey. According to mosasaur expert Michael J. Everhart though, these animals didn’t have the tail strength or speed to pull off such an athletic feat. Mosasaurus is the most famous member (and the namesake genus) of the mosasaur superfamily. Late in the age of dinosaurs, these were some of the ocean’s major predators. They probably swam like gigantic crocodiles, keeping their flippers pressed against the body. Fossil evidence tells us that mosasaurs gave birth to live young at sea and at least some of them had vertically-fluked tails.


Lived: 88 to 80.5 million years ago in central North America

Diet: Carnivore (probable fishing specialist)

Maximum wingspan: 20 feet (or possibly 24 feet)

Name means: “Toothless wing”

Here’s another non-dinosaur for you. Good old Pteranodon was a kind of North American pterosaur. What’s that, you ask? Pterosaurs were flying reptiles that patrolled the skies from 228 to 66 million years ago. Long before birds or bats took to the air, pterosaurs became the first vertebrate animals to ever achieve powered flight. The good people of Kansas designated Pteranodon itself as one of their official state fossils in 2014. Back in this animal’s heyday, there was a vast inland sea which covered most of the Great Plains, splitting North America in two. Pteranodon may have behaved like a modern albatross, using its narrow wings to soar for vast distances on air currents above the ocean waves. The creatures were apparently keen on seafood: Pteranodon skeletons are sometimes found with masses of fish bones in their throats and stomachs. We may never know how they captured prey, but one idea can be dismissed outright: Not a single known pterosaur had opposable toes, so Pteranodon couldn’t have grabbed things with its feet like the genetically-engineered flyers in Jurassic World do.


Bryce Dallas Howard and Justice Smith are trapped by the Carnotaurus in 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' (2018)
Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.

Lived: 72 to 69 million years ago in Argentina

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum length: 25 feet

Name means: “Meat-eating bull"

Carnotaurus didn’t show up in the first four Jurassic Park movies, but Michael Crichton wrote the horned creature into his 1995 novel The Lost World. The book depicts Carnotaurus as a nocturnal hunter that can change colors like an overgrown cuttlefish. There’s no reason to put any stock in this idea, but the real Carnotaurus was not without its quirky attributes—including its forelimbs. While T. rex gets a lot of flack for its meager arms, those of Carnotaurus are proportionately smaller, and the Argentine dino didn’t even have any wrist bones. On the flip side, Carnotaurus’s strong legs and powerful tail would’ve made it a gifted sprinter. Skin impressions reveal that its back, neck, and tail were studded with bony knobs, much like the ones Carnotaurus shows off in Fallen Kingdom.


Lived: 70 million years ago in Mongolia

Diet: Probable omnivore

Maximum length: 20 feet

Name means: “Chicken mimic”

Gallimimus belongs to an ostrich-like family of dinosaurs known as the ornithomimids. Though it lacks plumage in the Jurassic movies, real ornithomimids were covered in fuzzy down as youngsters and the adults grew long feathers on their arms. Gallimimus and its brethren couldn’t fly, but their showy, wing-like forelimbs could’ve been used to help them attract mates. Ornithomimids compensated for their lack of teeth by swallowing rocks, which ground up food in the stomach. Exactly what they ate is unclear, though most paleontologists think the ostrich mimics were either omnivorous or herbivorous.


Lived: 155 to 140 million years ago in North America

Diet: Herbivore

Maximum length: 72 feet

Name means: “Arm lizard”

Even though it’s poorly represented in the fossil record, Brachiosaurus is well-known to the general public. This is largely due to its breakout role in the first Jurassic Park movie. The Brachiosaurus in that classic film hold their elongated necks in an almost vertical position, and this depiction might not be too far off. A 2010 biomechanical analysis argued that browsing on treetops would’ve been a more energy-efficient option for Brachiosaurus-like sauropods than holding their necks horizontally and eating ground-level plants. It’s interesting to think about the behemoth’s cardiovascular system: In order to pump blood up that lengthy neck and into the head, Brachiosaurus may have required a gigantic heart weighing in the neighborhood of 880 pounds.


Lived: 68 to 66 million years ago in North America

Diet: Herbivore

Maximum length: 21 feet

Name means: “Curved lizard”

We know this formidable animal had a backside covered in bony plates; yet because no one’s ever found a complete Ankylosaurus skeleton, scientists disagree about how the armor was arranged. The 19-inch-wide club on its tail was probably a weapon. Using CT scans and anatomical measurements, a Canadian research team estimated that a large Ankylosaurus club could strike its target with enough force to break bones. Evolution made some of the tail vertebrae in these dinosaurs stiff and inflexible so they could support their heavy clubs. A hammer needs its handle after all.


Lived: 68 to 66 million years ago in North America

Diet: Probable herbivore

Maximum length: 10 feet

Name means: “Styx devil”

It’s kind of ironic that Stygimoloch is mentioned by name in Fallen Kingdom’s promo videos. Paleontologist John R. “Jack” Horner has worked as a consultant for all five Jurassic Park films. He thinks that Stygimoloch is nothing more than the juvenile version of the thick-headed dinosaur Pachycephalosaurus, which lived at the same time and place. (You may remember the latter’s cameo in 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park.) This would render the name Stygimoloch invalid. Horner’s argument is supported by the trademark feature of both dinos: the iconic domes on the top of their craniums. Stygimoloch’s skull bones were not fully fused together, suggesting the animal had a lot of growing to do. CT scans have also shown that Stygimoloch’s dome was significantly thinner than that of Pachycephalosaurus. Perhaps these dinos used their special skulls to flank each other—or maybe the thick noggins were designed for heavy-duty headbutts. For his part, Horner has proposed that these were used for identification.


Mounted skeleton of Stegosaurus stenops in right lateral view at the Natural History Museum, London.
Susannah Maidment et al. & Natural History Museum, London, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Lived: 155 to 150 million years ago in North America and Portugal

Diet: Herbivore

Maximum length: 23 feet

Name means: “Roof lizard”

Nobody knows what to make of the bony plates on Stegosaurus’s back. If self-defense was their purpose, why do they project upward from the spine, leaving the flanks of this vegetarian wide open? And why do the plates of other spiky-tailed dinosaurs in its family have radically different shapes? One hypothesis is that these bizarre accessories were used to attract mates—much like the peacock’s gaudy tail feathers. Maybe they also helped the small-headed herbivores recognize other members of their own kind from afar. The quartet of spikes on Stegosaurus’s tail were almost certainly used to ward off attackers. Live Stegosaurus got plenty of mileage out of these weapons: One survey, which compared 51 individual spikes, reported that just under 10 percent had been broken and re-healed at the tip.


Lived: 150 million years ago in Germany and France

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum length: Four feet

Name means: “Elegant jaw”

Only two skeletons of this dinosaur have ever been discovered, both of which were found with the remains of tiny lizards tucked inside their rib cages. That’s a pretty far cry from the scene in The Lost World: Jurassic Park where a swarm of “Compies” gobble up the man who’s been tormenting them with a cattle prod. But we digress. Named in 1859, Compsognathus used to be the smallest type of non-avian dinosaur known to science. It no longer retains this title, as the creature would’ve dwarfed some more recently-discovered dinos like the 15-inch Mongolian Parvicursor.


Bryce Dallas Howard and Justice Smith encounter the Baryonyx in 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' (2018)
Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.

Lived: 130-125 million years ago in England, Spain, and Portugal

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum length: 25 feet

Name means: “Heavy claw”

Sail-backed Spinosaurus was the main villain in 2001's Jurassic Park III—a casting choice that irked plenty of fans. Baryonyx was a close relative of this beast who now joins Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Mesozoic ensemble. Preserved stomach contents have shown that Baryonyx ate fish as well as the herbivorous dinosaur Iguanodon. On each hand, Baryonyx had a 12-inch hooked claw that served an unknown purpose. (Artists like to imagine it as a fishing tool.) The animal’s conical teeth look well-equipped for grabbing hold of slippery prey. Despite the narrowness of its snout, Baryonyx’s jaws were able to withstand a great deal of bending and torsion.


Chris Pratt with a baby Velociraptor in 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' (2018)
Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.

Lived: 85 to 70 million years ago in Mongolia and China

Diet: Carnivore

Maximum length: 7 feet

Name means: “Swift thief”

Velociraptor stood less than two feet tall at the hip and weighed around 55 pounds. Michael Crichton’s description of the animal was inspired by its bigger cousin, Deinonychus. Even that dinosaur was smaller than the man-sized predators of Jurassic Park, though. Both Velociraptor and Deinonychus were dromaeosaurs: bird-like carnivores with bony rods in their tails and sickle-shaped toe claws. (When we say “bird-like,” we mean it: Dromaeosaurs are thought to be some of our feathered friends’ closest relatives. Many had plumage; Velociraptor itself came with sizable feathers on each arm.)

The notion that they hunted in packs can be traced back to the maverick paleontologist John Ostrom of Yale. During the 1960s, he worked at a Montana dig site where four Deinonychus were found around the body of a larger herbivore named Tenontosaurus. Ostrom’s belief that dromaeosaurs hunted in organized groups gained traction with scientists and novelists alike. A newer interpretation of the data is that the dinos lived alone and at most occasionally came together to mob vulnerable plant-eaters.


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