“Dinosaurs, Dragons Rampage at Field Museum, Brookfield Zoo” by S.M. O’Connor

 

 

In its Midwest debut, Jurassic World: The Exhibition opened at The Field Museum of Natural History on Friday, May 26, 2017 and runs through Sunday, January 17, 2018.  This exhibit, which features animatronic dinosaurs (and an animatronic synthetic monster) and interactive educational elements, appeals both to people who were already attracted to the Tyrannosaurus rex SUE in Stanley Field Hall and The Field Museum’s other dinosaurs in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet, as well as fans of the Jurassic Park franchise.  Dinos & Dragons at the Brookfield Zoo is a temporary exhibit that opened on Saturday, May 6, 2017 and will be open through Sunday, September 17, 2017.  This is also a timely exhibit, which includes animatronic dinosaurs and mythical creatures, live lizards, a puppet show, and informative signs, because of the global popularity of Game of Thrones, H.B.O.’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of high fantasy novels.  [The climax of the first novel and first season were the hatching of three dragons from seemingly fossilized eggs for Daenerys (“Dany”) Stormborn (played by English actress Emilia Clark) of House Targaryen on the funeral pyre of her first husband.  In each season of the show and all but one of the novels, the dragons – living weapons of mass destruction, like a cross between real-world war elephants and atomic bombs – have grown in size and importance. Tonight’s episode, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the seventh season finale, will be set in part in the Dragon Pit, a large structure erected by Dany’s ancestors in their capital city of King’s Landing to hold dragons.[1]]  The three exhibits compliment each other, with the result that parents are able to show children in some cases what the fossilized skeleton of a particular dinosaur species looked like in Stanley Field Hall and Evolving Planet and then showing the children what that dinosaur species might have looked like in the flesh with an animatronic counterpart in Jurassic World: the Exhibition and/or Dinos & Dragons.  For this reason, I recommend visiting The Field Museum one day and the Brookfield Zoo the next day, if time and money allow.

This traveling exhibit Jurassic World: The Exhibition ties in with the fourth Jurassic Park science fiction/horror/adventure film, Jurassic World (2016), which starred Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.  Colin Trevorrow was the director.  Steven Spielberg was the executive producer. It was Spielberg, the director of the first and second films in the series – Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – who brought the fourth film out of development hell with the suggestion that it should be about the theme park full of living dinosaurs John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) wanted to establish in the first film finally coming into being.[2]   The dinosaurs in the film were once again created through C.G.I. by Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic and animatronics by Legacy Effects, a company co-founded by four partners who had worked for Stan Winston (1946-2008) at the Stan Winston Studio, which had created the animatronic dinosaurs for Jurassic Park (1993).[3]

Jurassic World was the fourth film in the series as a whole and the first installment in a new trilogy.  Executive Producers Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow are bringing the world a fifth film in the series, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) for Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.  It is currently in production in London.  Stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are re-uniting with B.D. Wong, who plays Dr. Henry Wu from the first and fourth films.  Jeff Goldblum, who played mathematician Ian Malcolm in the first and second films, is returning to the franchise.  They will be joined by character actors Tony Jones and James Cromwell.  Producers Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are returning to the franchise, and they are being joined by Belén Atienza.  Trevorrow wrote the script with Derek Connolly.  Spanish film director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible) is helming the project.  This project had the working title Jurassic World 2 when filming began in London.

Museum visitors travel to Isla Nublar (the fictional island off the coast of Costa Rica from Crichton’s first novel, the first film, and the fourth film) as V.I.P. guests to see a Brachiosaurus, Velociraptor, and a Tyrannosaurus rex.  Visitors who walk through Jurassic World: The Exhibition pass through a replica of the Jurassic World theme park gates from the film Jurassic World to gain close proximity to towering animatronic dinosaurs, some of which are over twenty-four feet tall.   Guests enter the family-friendly Gentle Giants Petting Zoo, the Hammond Creation Lab, and the Raptor Training Paddock.  The highlight is a preview of Jurassic World’s synthetic Indominus rex monster developed by combing DNA from multiple species of dinosaurs.  Please note that Jurassic World is housed in a climate-controlled 16,000-square-foot exhibition tent next to The Field Museum building.  [Even so, on hot days, the tent may be warmer than the exhibits inside the museum building.]  This tent on the front lawn, marks the first time The Field Museum has employed such a structure as an annex.

JTP-GatesFigure 1 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: The Gates of Jurassic World (the fictional theme park) as seen in Jurassic World (2016) the movie in Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Field Museum of Natural History.

JTP-TRex

Figure 2 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: An animatronic Tyrannosaurs rex in Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Field Museum of Natural History.

JTP-ParasaurolophusFigure 3 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: An animatronic Parasaurolophus in Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Field Museum of Natural History.

JTP-IndominousFigure 4 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: An animatronic Indominous rex in Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Field Museum of Natural History.

JW_FI_Raptor_Cage_01Figure 5 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: Raptor Paddock in Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Field Museum of Natural History.

The traveling Jurassic World exhibit compliments The Field Museum’s dinosaur bone collections, the crown jewel of which is SUE, the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton yet recovered, on display in the Stanley Field Hall.  Most of The Field Museum’s dinosaurs are on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet.

Unveiled2Figure 6 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: SUE unveiled at The Field Museum of Natural History.

1. SUE in Stanley Field HallFigure 7 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: SUE in Stanley Field Hall at The Field Museum of Natural History.

Parasaulolophus2Figure 8 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a Parasaulolophus fossilized skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History.

HerrarasaurusFigure 9 Photo Credit: The Field Museum Caption of Natural History: This is a fossilized Herrarasaurus skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History

Herrarasaurus IllustrationFigure 10 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a Herrarasaurus illustration from the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History

Dimetredon SideFigure 11 Photo Credit: The Field Museum Caption: This is a side view of the fossilized Dimetrodon skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet in The Field Museum of Natural History. Technically, dimetrodons were not dinosaurs.  Scientists believe they lived in the Early Cambrian Period and died off 40,000,000 before the first dinosaurs walked the Earth.

DaspletosaurusFigure 12 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a fossilized Daspletosaurus skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History.

ApatosaurusFigure 13 Photo Credit: The Field Museum Caption: This is an Apatosaurus fossilized skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History.

PteranodonFigure 14 Photo Credit: The Field Museum Caption: This is an Pteranodon fossilized skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History.

TriceratopsFigure 15 Photo Credit: The Field Museum Caption: This is a Triceratops fossilized skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History.

 

The Creature Technology Company designed the lifelike animatronic dinosaurs for Jurassic World: The Exhibition, which was produced by Universal Brand Development, Imagine Exhibitions, MagicSpace, and IES.  The world premiere of Jurassic World: The Exhibition was at the Melbourne Museum in Melbourne, Australia and the American debut was at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.   According to The Field Museum and the exhibit’s producers, it “shattered” attendance records at both museums.  The famous American paleontologist Jack Horner, who inspired the character Dr. Alan Grant – played by Sam Neill in the first and third films – and served as Paleontological Advisor on Jurassic World, helped develop the exhibit, which includes interactive educational elements about real science.

Jurassic World: The Exhibition is an immersive and educational experience like no other, and the response from fans has been tremendous, with the first two tour stops breaking attendance records,” stated Carol Nygren, Vice President, Worldwide Live Entertainment, Universal Brand Development.  “The Field Museum is world-renowned for its dinosaur collection and research, and we’re excited to bring The Exhibition to Chicago as part of our global tour.”

“From the beginning of this project, our mission has been to transport people to Jurassic World,” stated Tom Zaller, President and C.E.O. pf Imagine Exhibitions.  “I am proud of all that our team at Imagine Exhibitions has accomplished with our partners, and that we are fortunate enough to help bring the astonishing Jurassic World franchise to life.”

“One of our goals as a museum is to provide visitors with the best dinosaur experience in the world,” stated Field Museum President Richard Lariviere.  “Our fossil collections are one of the greatest things about The Field Museum, and the Jurassic World dinosaurs are an incredible way to spark our imaginations about them.  After experiencing an animatronic T. rex, you can come inside, witness SUE, and picture what an incredible animal she must have been in real life.”

The Field Museum is open these days from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  However, Jurassic World: The Exhibition is open until 9:00 p.m., with last admission at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for Jurassic World: The Exhibition are $10 for children and $15 for adults during The Field Museum’s daytime entry, in addition to general museum admission tickets. [Basic Admission tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for students and senior citizens (ages sixty-five-and-older), and $15 for children (ages three-to-eleven).] Tickets for Jurassic World: The Exhibition alone during evening hours are $20 for children, $25 for adults, and $22 for senior citizens.  An All-Access Pass cost $36 for adults, $31 for students and senior citizens (ages sixty-five-and-older), and $25 for children (ages three-to-eleven). A Discovery Pass that includes a 3D movie and one ticketed exhibit other than Jurassic World: The Exhibition costs $30 for adults, $26 for students and senior citizens (ages sixty-five-and-older), and $21 for children (ages three-to-eleven).  One can purchase tickets online at https://www.fieldmuseum.org/at-the-field/exhibitions/jurassic-world-exhibition.

Jurassic World is a trademark of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.  Universal Studios licensed the name for the exhibit.  United Airlines is the Official Travel Partner of Jurassic World: The Exhibition (at least at The Field Museum).  Founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, Sr. (1867-1939) and a group of six partners through the merger of existent movie companies, Universal Studios, also known as Universal Pictures, is the oldest American movie studio, and the fourth-oldest in the world.  Today, it is part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, a division of NBCUniversal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the telecommunication conglomerate Comcast Corporation.  Universal Brand Entertainment, a business segment of Universal Filmed Entertainment, is involved in franchise brand management, consume products, video games and digital platforms, and live entertainment adapted from the company’s portfolio of intellectual properties created by Universal Studios, Illumination Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, and the National Broadcasting Company (N.B.C.) and other NBCUniversal cable and television companies.  In a press release, Universal brand Development stated that it “globally drives expansion of the company’s intellectual properties, franchises, characters and stories through innovative physical and digital products, content, and consumer experiences.”

Imagine Exhibitions has thirty exhibitions on display in museums, science centers, aquariums, resorts, and other venues.  Founded in 2006 and based in Melbourne, Australia, the Creature Technology Company creates animatronic creatures for exhibitions, arena spectacles, stage shows, and other events.  The Creature Technology Company created the animatronic dinosaurs for the Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular,[4] which debuted in Australia in 2007 and toured the U.S.A. in 2007-2010, 2011; Europe in 2010, 2012; and Asia in 2010-2011.  Subsequently, Creature Technology Company developed How to Train Your Dragon – Live Spectacular for DreamWorks Animation, King Kong for the Global Creatures stage show, the 7.5-meter-tall animatronic Statue of Liberty for the annual Rockettes New York Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, and the mascots for the XXII Olympic Winter Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Sochi.

Scientists from around the world comes to study The Field Museum of Natural History’s collections of over 30,000,000 artifacts and specimens.  The Field Museum has over 350,000 square feet of exhibit space.  Since 2000, The Field Museum has created fifteen touring exhibitions that have been seen by over 12,000,000 people.

The Field Museum is part of the Museum Campus with the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium at the northern end of Burnham Park.  The street address of The Field Museum is 1400 South lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496.  The phone number is (312) 922-9410.

90561380-b246-43ef-90a6-ae88ef9a9c78Figure 16 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Dracorex hogwartsia at Roosevelt Foundation that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.  From the name, one might guess this was a pseudo-Latin name J.K. Rowling coined for a dragon, but in reality this was the name visitors to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum voted on for a real species of dinosaurs as a tribute to the Harry Potter books.

 

Dinos & Dragons, presented by Meijer, features seventeen animatronic dinosaurs and dragons, as a well as a real Komodo dragon and other reptiles.  This temporary summer exhibit has both indoor and outdoor components.  It is located in the southeastern quadrant of Brookfield Zoo, between BZ Red Hots to the east of Hamill Family Wild Encounters (formerly the Hamill Family Play Zoo) to the south.  The animatronic creatures include a Stegosaurus, an Apatosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus rex, and a Chinese dragon.  As zoogoers pass the animatronic creatures along a winding path, they also encounter educational signs about legends, myths, culture, literature, and paleontology.  Zoogoers can see real living reptiles in a tent along the path, one of which is a Komodo dragon.

This is the first time a Komodo dragon has been on display at the Brookfield Zoo.  It is not, however, the first time a live Komodo dragon has been displayed in Chicagoland.  The Fort Worth Zoo loaned a Komodo dragon named Faust to the Shedd Aquarium between 2006 and 2008 (during which time he grew five inches and gained fifty pounds) for the temporary exhibit Lizards and the Komodo King.

 

c0ad4f2d-c781-45fa-a2d5-8b12fc4fdc00Figure 17 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Utahraptor that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

b3168f1b-82f8-42e6-8a3c-1e996af794eeFigure 18 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: These are two animatronic Pteranodons that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

5873fcdd-c5f9-420a-b5dc-f8715d9683c5Figure 19 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Dilophosaurus that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

302cd8f8-2d86-4c0e-b84c-e383b5eabe73Figure 20 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Triceratops that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

87c1fcf9-3402-4429-9e2a-955b7d57a300Figure 21 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Pteranodon that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

9bdaafc1-b8b3-4fa6-991d-d7d78f7cb80cFigure 22 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Apatosaurus that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

8c2797d0-28b2-4dd9-901f-a99718dbd45bFigure 23 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

c41c4a0e-1310-471d-90dd-79a8ec881717Figure 24 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

84e22ecd-97a1-4fd3-baf3-caa29e6ae6a6Figure 25 Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is an animatronic wyvern that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.  A wyvern is a dragon-like creature from Irish, Scottish, and Welsh legend that has a total of four limbs – wings and hind legs like a bird or a bat – instead of a total of six limbs – wings, forelegs, and hind legs – like a dragon.

ba4e3152-3e64-4c48-95f4-1b17c6a056c9Figure 26 Photo Credit: Build 4 Impact, Inc. Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is a Roughneck Monitor that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

8a04b49b-2da3-4892-842a-8b3bea198c26Figure 27 Photo Credit: Build 4 Impact, Inc. Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is a Plumed Basilisk that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

743bec54-bb61-4752-9bd4-f8353661f852Figure 28 Photo Credit: Build 4 Impact, Inc. Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is a Frilled Dragon that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

6f84c9cd-eaaa-45a4-8cd7-c57e093b6f11Figure 29 Photo Credit: Build 4 Impact, Inc. Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is a Crocodile Monitor that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

04f6ab68-6665-4728-9a90-1da087e9189eFigure 30 Photo Credit: Build 4 Impact, Inc. Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society Caption: These are Iguanas that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

c33ccd2f-626a-4185-b397-731ea6f1942bFigure 31 Photo Credit: Haley Greathouse Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This is a Komodo dragon that can be seen in the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo.

“We’re thrilled to offer this interactive exhibit to our guests,” stated Andre Copeland, Interpretive Program Manager for the Chicago Zoological Society.  “People young and old can experience the awe and wonder of seeing these extraordinarily lifelike dinosaurs and dragons – and hopefully learn a few things about these amazing creatures.”

Indoor attractions are spread across three dragooned-themed areas: Medieval Realm, Asian Realm, and Paleontology Realm.  In the Medieval Realm, zoogoers learn about dragons from European myths, folklore, and literature.  This area features a replica castle and the Hungarian Horntail dragon described in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth Harry Potter book and as seen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), the fourth film in the series.  In the Asian Realm, zoogoers learn about the importance of dragons in Far East Asia.  This area includes a full-sized Chinese dragon costume.  In the Paleontology Realm, pin-sized paleontologists can don goggles and use brushes to cleanup replica fossils.

Real life “dragons” (live reptiles) are integrated within each realm in themed habits.  Live reptiles on display in the temporary exhibit include a Bearded Dragon, Frilled Dragon, Plumed Basilisk, Black-throated Monitor, Iguana, Roughneck Monitor, Crocodile Monitor, Komodo dragon, Uromastyx Lizard, European Legless Lizard, and Nile Monitor.

Interactive activities children in which children can participate include loading and reloading a catapult, staging a puppet show with a dragon backdrop, and digging up realistic-looking dinosaur fossils. Children can get temporary tattoos.  Zilla sponsored the photo peek board.  JULIE, Inc. and 811 sponsored the Dino Dig boxes.  LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago is another exhibit partner as it provided the six-foot-tall models of a knight and dragon.

Outdoor attractions include seventeen animatronic dinosaurs and mythological creatures displayed amongst full-grown trees along a winding path.  As a guest passes each animatronic creature, a sensor signals the creature’s head, eyes, arms, and tail to move.  Another animatronic dinosaur is on display north of Roosevelt Fountain.  The animatronic creatures include an Ankylosaur, a Gryphon, a Stegosaurus, an Apatosaurus, a Megalosaurus, a Triceratops, a Chinese Dragon, a Pachycephalosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Dilophosaurus, two Pteranodons, a Utahraptor, a Dracorex hogwartsia (at Roosevelt Fountain), a Quetzalcoatlus, and a Wyvern.[5]  Signs with colorful graphics introduce each animatronic creature.  The dinosaurs cover a range of time from the Stegosaurus that roamed North America during the Late Jurassic Period (150,000,000 years ago) to the Pteranodon that flew during the Late Cretaceous Period (85,000,000 to 75,000,000 years ago). Zoogoers can test their knowledge of dinosaurs and mythological monsters in parodies of games shows: DINOPARDY, Are You Smarter Than A Paleontologist?, and Dino Feud.  At one point along the trail, visitors see the Paleontologist Excavation Site, a facsimile of a dig site where paleontologists recover dinosaur fossils.  Near the exhibit’s exit, visitors find the Dinosaur Dissection Lab.  Staff members there engage children in dissecting dinosaur body part facsimiles comprised of non-latex materials.  The Dinosaur Dissection Lab features a light box with x-rays, beakers, books, and a microscope.

The Stage-o-saurus Theater, located just west of Tropic World, is a free, live theatrical show that features an animatronic raptor.  Audience participation is a key element of the show.

The Chicago Zoological Society operates the Brookfield Zoo, which the Forest Preserve District of Cook County owns.  Brookfield Zoo opened on Monday, June 30, 1934 after seven years of construction.  Over 2,000,000 people visit Brookfield Zoo on an annual basis.  The Chicago Zoological Society employees almost 400 full-time employees, a dozen permanent part-time employees, more than 500 seasonal employees.  The Chicago Zoological Society supplements its workforce with almost 900 volunteers.  It has an operating budget of $65,000,000.  The Cook County Forest Preserve District contributes 22.4% of the Brookfield Zoo’s operating budget.  The Chicago Zoological Society obtains the rest from admission tickets, parking fees, in-park sales, membership fees, grants, and donations.  Brookfield Zoo has two year-round restaurants, three seasonal restaurants, seven seasonal concessional stands, five gift shops, and three seasonal souvenir stands.

Brookfield Zoo Members get half off tickets.  Tickets are $5 for adults ($2.50 for Members), $3 for children ages three-to-eleven ($1.50 for Members), and $3 for senior citizens sixty-five or older ($1.50 for Members).  General admission tickets to the Brookfield Zoo are $19.85 for adults, $14.50 for children (three-to-eleven) and senior citizens (sixty-five years of age or older).  Until Labor Day, the Brookfield Zoo will remain on Summer Hours (9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.).  Afterward, it will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  The address of the North Gate Entrance is 8400 31st Street (at 1st Avenue and 31st Street), Brookfield, Illinois 60513, while the address of the Main South Gate is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.

 

[1] Dragons are a staple of high fantasy novels and movies, inspired by myths, legends, folktales, and fairytales, such as the epic Old English poem Beowulf, which ends with Beowulf, King of the Geats (in Sweden), killing a dragon years after he killed Grendel and that monster’s mother in Denmark.  An appendix to the hagiography of Saint George, a 7th Century martyr, traced now to an 11th Century Georgian text, stated that he slew a dragon, and Crusaders brought this tale back to Europe.  Martin has been open about being a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien (unlike J.K. Rowling who has identified Tolkien’s friend C.S. Lewis as an influence, but stated if she read Tolkien and Le Guin in her youth she had no memory of it) and dragons played a prominent role in J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, particularly Smaug the Golden in The Hobbit and Glaurung (“The Deceiver”), one of the chief servants of Morgoth (Satan) in The Silmarillion.  Ursula K. Le Guin has depicted both good and evil dragons in her Earthsea Cycle of novels and short stories.  Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd have depicted synthetic dragons in their science fiction Dragonriders of Pern series of novels and short stories.  J.K. Rowling dramatically revealed dragons in the fourth and seventh Harry Potter novels, and the fourth and eighth Harry Potter films followed suit.  In Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle of high fantasy novels, Eragon is the first new Dragon Rider since Galbatorix killed his brethren and made himself king.

[2] The first film in the series was an adaptation of the bestselling novel Jurassic Park by novelist, screenwriter, and director Michael Crichton (1942-2008), published in 1990.  The second film in the series was an adaption of his sequel novel, The Lost World, published in 1995.  The third film in the series, Jurassic Park III (2001), was the first film in the series not to be based on a Crichton novel.  Crichton, in turn, used a science fiction premise – that dinosaur could be harvested from mosquitos trapped in amber for millions of years to create new dinosaurs in laboratories – to update earlier science fiction/adventure stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1938) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950).  Doyle’s The Lost World, published in 1912, depicted dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals as still being alive on a remote South American plateau.  [He is, of course, better known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes.]  Burroughs, better known as the creator of Tarzan, introduced the isolated island of Caprona, where dinosaurs still roamed, in The Land that Time Forgot, published as a three-part series of short stories in Blue Book Magazine in 1918 and as a book by A.C. McClurg in 1924.

[3] Winston also made the animatronic lions for Ghost and the Darkness (1996).  The real-life Lions of Tsavo can be seen at The Field Museum.

GN87713_7c

Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: The Tsavo Lions are on display at The Field Museum of Natural History.  Note that they are smaller now than in life because Colonel Patterson turned their skins into rungs before He sold them to The Field Museum, where a taxidermist mounted them to make them three-dimensional again.

[4] This was an adaptation of Walking with Dinosaurs (1999), a six-part documentary series produced for the B.B.C., which appeared in the U.S.A. in 2000 on the Discovery Channel with narration by Avery Brooks in place of Kenneth Branagh.

[5] A wyvern is a dragon-like creature from Irish, Scottish, English, and Welsh legend that has a total of four limbs – wings and hind legs like a bird or a bat – instead of a total of six limbs – wings, forelegs, and hind legs – like a dragon.  The Chicago Zoological Society stated, “Wyverns are often confused with dragons as they are a lesser known mythical creature.  In English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish culture, the distinction between wyverns – having two legs – and dragons – having four – has been made since the sixteen century.  However, in modern pop culture, two-legged dragons are entirely acceptable.”  This is the Chicago Zoological Society’s way of addressing the fact several recent fantasies that meant to depict dragon instead depicted wyverns and called them dragons.  This is true of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and H.B.O.’s Game of Thrones adaptation of it, as well as Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  Martin either did not know or did not care there was such a thing as a wyvern in mythology when he decided his dragons would have four limbs because that was more “realistic” given that birds and bats have four limbs.

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