The release of the Jurassic World movie gives us a vision of a world ruled by dinosaurs—but how accurate are filmmakers’ portrayals of these ancient mammals? As more research is conducted and new scientific discoveries are made, the illustrations of dinosaurs evolve.
The first complete skeletons
In 1878, Belgian scientists made the first remarkable impact on dinosaur research with the discovery of 38 complete dinosaur skeletons. These skeletons set the stage for dinosaur studies across the globe; however, there was no record of fossils to compare them with. Scientists resorted to modern animals as a guide for depicting an image of dinosaurs, which served as the standard illustration throughout the late 1800s to mid-20th century.
Fossil discoveries and improved technology in the 1960s revised the Belgian illustration, creating an Iguanodon that traveled on all fours and had a straight tail. This current view is represented in the 2000 Disney movie Dinosaur.
1964 marked the discovery of a new type of dinosaur that resembled a bird. American paleontologist John Ostrom’s discovery of the Deinonychus renewed public interest in the Triassic period.
Fresh research and talented artists created images that combined generations of dinosaur findings.
The digital age
Images of dinosaurs are constantly developing with the advancement of scientific research and fossil data. The current rate of discovery prompts many artists to rely on digital technology to adjust their images to incorporate new data.
Today, CT scans are able to study bone cavities, while virtual models — such as the Cyber Science 3D Paleontology line — test ranges of motion.