My Favourite Dinosaur Novels

“Implacable November weather.  As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the Earth, and would it not be wonderful to meet Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.”

From Charles Dickens classic novel Bleak House. This was the first ever mention of a Dinosaur in any work of fiction. The name Dinosaur itself had only been coined ten years earlier by Richard Owen, but the beasts were fast catching the public’s imagination. This reference, like much in Dickens novels reflected what was going on at the time.

The very earliest Dinosaur novels that followed after such as The Lost World, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The Land That Time Forgot would lay down the foundations for nearly every subsequent Dinosaur story across all mediums.

Since the heyday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs there have been many more exciting and ground breaking Dinosaur novels, such as Jurassic Park which helped to bring new and exciting theories about Dinosaurs to the public’s attention and changed how we viewed them.

I think that many of the greatest Dinosaur novels can help to show that Dinosaur fiction isn’t just something for children. Sadly many people tend to view having an interest in Dinosaurs as being childish, like in the American sitcom Friends for instance. The character of Ross Geller is frequently ridiculed by both the writers and the other characters for his love of Dinosaurs.

Stories like Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jurassic Park and The Lost World meanwhile were written by among the most accomplished writers of all time. From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Jules Verne. Clearly these great literary minds didn’t see Dinosaurs as a childish subject.

The greatest Dinosaur novels are more than just fun adventure stories. They tackle subjects such as exploring the unknown, man’s destructive effect on the environment and tampering with nature as we will soon see.

This list will not be presented in any order of preference, as ultimately I found that I couldn’t pick my all time favourite.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864)

The first novel to focus on prehistoric creatures. I wasn’t sure about whether or not to include this as technically there are no true Dinosaurs in it. The marine reptiles who attack our heroes are not actually Dinosaurs. Still I feel I have to include it in this list for a number of reasons.

To start with whilst creatures like Plesiosaurs may not technically be Dinosaurs, they are still often viewed as such in popular culture. Furthermore this was the first book to actually feature prehistoric creatures of any kind. Particularly those who lived at the same time as the Dinosaurs.

Also most importantly, Journey to the Centre of the Earth is essentially the template for close to every single Dinosaur story for the next 150 years.

It is the first story to revolve around a remote area on earth where prehistoric reptiles still roam. Whilst there are a few pieces of Dinosaur fiction that don’t follow this formula. Primeval, Jurassic Park, One Million Years BC etc. The majority do follow the basic premise of there being some little remote area on earth, a valley, a plateau, an island, an underground cave, where Dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, Pterosaurs, Plesiosaurs, maybe even a tribe of proto humans and ape men or giant apes, still exist into modern day.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and Edgar Rice Burroughs The Land That Time Forgot both follow this idea, except they moved the land of Dinosaurs to above the ground. Later films such as Gwangi and King Kong also stick to Verne’s formula beat for beat too.

Even the original Godzilla starts with this same premise, as Godzilla is shown to have come from a remote island where Dinosaurs still roam before he was mutated by an atomic blast.

There are even many other stories that revolve around the idea of Dinosaurs living in a land that exists within the Earth’s core. Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar series which began with At the Earth’s Core as well as the Russian novel Plutonia are both among the most famous examples of the hollow earth subgenre.

Most Dinosaur stories are really just variations of Verne’s idea, though that’s not to do down these other works, as the variations ultimately allow them to stand out as classics in their own right.

It should be acknowledged at the same time that Journey to the Centre of the Earth was not the first Hollow Earth story either. Nothing is completely original, as just about every story has been done. All any writer can really do most of the time is just add a new variation to an old idea.

Still ultimately at the end of the day this novel is the forebear of most Dinosaur fiction, so in spite of the fact that there are no true Dinosaurs in it. (Only marine Reptiles and prehistoric mammals.) I still have to include it here.

The novel itself aside from its literary significance still holds up as a great adventure. Some critics have responded negatively to the fact that compared to Verne’s other novels, the science in it is rather dated. It has also been criticised for its very slow pace. .

Still personally I found it an enjoyable read right the way through. The scientific goofs don’t bother me as at the end of the day it is still science fiction. Plus whilst I know a bit about Dinosaurs, the same as any nerdy guy, I’m a complete scientific illiterate anyway.

Also I found the build up to their adventure at the center of the earth interesting as the three main characters, Otto Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans are all very engaging.

Lidenbrock is a total hot head and the classic insufferable genius type of character like Sherlock Holmes (who he predates by about 20 years) taken to the utmost extreme. He actually locks his own nephew and maid in the house, and starves them until he can find a way to crack an ancient code! Despite this he is given a few moments that show deep down he does care for his nephew, in spite of his borderline psychotic behaviour towards him.

Axel meanwhile is a complete coward and utterly useless. In fact his bumbling almost kills the team and briefly strands them in the valley.

Hans meanwhile functions more as the straight man of the group and helps to balance out the two more extreme personalities of his companions.

The lost world of the story is intriguing as we don’t really know much about it. In later lost world stories we often get a complete image of the valley/island/plateau the main characters travel too. In King Kong and The Lost World we see the natives customs and even little bits of their history too. Peter Jackson did a whole fictional documentary about the history of Skull Island.

Here however it feels like we are only given little glimpses. On the one hand unlike Burroughs later Pellucidar series, Verne isn’t given a chance to really create his own unique little world in quite the same way, but on the other it does allow Verne to build up a more effective atmosphere.

When the main characters discover the remains of a large ape man they decided to avoid encountering one at all costs, which actually helps to make the creature more sinister.

For all we know it may have been a peaceful, even somewhat advanced creature that felt a kinship with the human explorers. Or it may have been a savage monster that would have ripped them limb from limb. The reader is allowed to build up an image of what the true beast could be like, and it becomes much more tense the knowledge that this large, mysterious creature could be lurking around any corner. For all we know it could be stalking the main characters.

Sadly Journey to the Centre of the Earth is not quite as remembered as some of Verne’s other works, but its impact on the genre is immeasurable. It has spawned a few adaptations over the years including 2 live action films, one in 1959 starring James Mason and another in 2008 starring Brendan Fraser.

Neither are particularly faithful to the novel, though both are still good movies nonetheless. The 2008 film does actually have genuine Dinosaurs in it too.

Overall a classic of the genre and the template for most Dinosaur stories.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912)

From the creator of Sherlock Holmes, this was the first true Dinosaur novel.

The Lost World see’s Professor George Challenger lead a team consisting of Lord Summerlee, Lord John Roxton and Edward Malone to a plateau high above the Amazon rainforest where a variety of prehistoric creatures, as well as a tribe of human beings and vicious Ape men (who are at war with each other) roam. Challenger and his team help the natives wipe out the Ape men and later escape the Plateau with a Pterodactly egg. The egg later hatches in London, giving Challenger the proof he needs of his exploits.

Whilst Journey to the Centre of the Earth may have created the Lost World trope, this adventure perfected it. Far more aspects of this story pop up in future Dinosaur stories than from Verne’s novel. The tribe of humans, the giant two legged meat eating Dinosaur that stalks our heroes throughout the novel, and a creature from the lost world of Dinosaurs being brought back to a big modern city like London or New York. These tropes would all later re-appear in classic Dinosaur stories like King Kong, Gwangi and the Jurassic Park films.

Doyle’s Lost World is much more fleshed out than Verne’s. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. On the one hand there is less of an atmosphere and mystery about Doyle’s plateau, but on the other hand we do get more exciting Dinosaur sequences as a result, such as the Allosaurus’s attack on the natives village. The fact that we see the plateau in great detail also allows Doyle to explore a wider variety of ideas, such as how human beings would live alongside prehistoric beasts, how they would manage to tame them in some cases, yet also be completely humbled by the large meat eaters in others.

The natives are also given a very sympathetic and 3 dimensional portrayal unlike in some later adaptations of the novel, such as the Irwin Allen version in 1960 or other films with a similar premise such as King Kong. Whilst much of Conan Doyle’s work was of its time, it is true that he was a very progressive writer in a number of ways too.

He created one of the most memorable female characters in all of fiction in the shape of Irene Adler, who manages to be the only person to beat Sherlock Holmes. Another short Sherlock Holmes story by Doyle “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” features another female character who wins Holmes respect and actually kills the main villain of the story.

The Lost World similarly can be seen to perhaps be ahead of its time, in that the main characters are shown to have the utmost respect for the natives and their customs. The natives are also depicted as highly civilized and advanced.

A problem with the Lost World is that there perhaps are too few Dinosaur species in it. Allosaurus is the only meat eating Dinosaur to appear in the novel

In all fairness to Doyle however there weren’t that many Dinosaur species known when he wrote this book. Even Tyrannosaurus Rex though it had been discovered by this point, it’s fossils were not that well known.

Still Doyle manages to use his single meat eater in a variety of different ways. When our heroes first encounter the Allosaurus, the reader is given just a fleeting glimpse of how immense and dangerous the beast is, as the explorers are tormented by the sounds of the Iguanodons screaming in the dark.

This just helps to make Malone’s encounter with the Dinosaur in the jungle more effective, as Malone has to deal with a monster that slaughtered an entire herd of giants by himself. Doyle doesn’t just simply have the beast attack however. He builds up the terror gradually as Malone slowly realises he is being followed through the woods by the Allosaur.

Finally when the two Allosaurus’s attack the natives village Doyle show the reader how the Allosaurus truly is the king of the Lost World. The latter part of the book builds the natives who keep Iguanodon’s as pets, hunt Icthyosaurs, and wiped out the Ape men, as seemingly the dominant life on the plateau, yet they are ultimately just powerless against the Allosaurs as anyone else.

The attack on the village was always my favourite sequence from the novel, and surprisingly it is left out of almost all adaptations (except for the 2001 telemovie version, made by Impossible Pictures, the team behind Primeval and Walking with Dinosaurs.)

Another problem with The Lost World is that Edward Malone, the main protagonist is a bit bland. Lord John Roxton meanwhile is also at times a bit annoying the way he is shown to be perfect at everything.

Challenger and Summerlee make an interesting team however. They are almost like two squabbling brothers trying to constantly get one over on the other. It’s also nice seeing them eventually grow to develop respect and even something of a friendship over the course of their time on the Plateau. Though they never become close, the best they become is vitriolic friends.

Professor Challenger was actually Conan Doyle’s favourite creation, even more so than the great detective himself. Challenger is a brilliant character all around. He is cut from the same cloth as Sherlock Holmes in the sense that he too is a maverick genius who plays by his own rules, yet he is almost the complete opposite in every other respect. He is loud, short tempered, violent, boisterous, even physically he is an absolute tank of a man with a massive beard. There is one funny sequence where the leader of the ape men feels a certain kinship with Challenger because he resembles him so much.

Whilst Challenger may not have as complex a personality as Holmes, he still has a huge presence which does somewhat make up for Malone’s blandness.

The Lost World has been adapted more than any other Dinosaur novel across both film and television. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself even appeared in the first ever adaptation in 1925.

No adaptations have remained completely faithful to Doyle’s novel. A female explorer is always added for a bit of variety and also often to supply Malone with a love interest. This began with the very first adaptation in 1925. Roxton also tends to vary between being a hero, an anti hero and even in some cases an outright villain. Tyrannosaurus Rex also often takes Allosaurus’s place as the king of the Lost World too, whilst the natives are often presented in a much more unsympathetic light, though many versions have added a sympathetic native girl at least who helps to save the explorers. The native girl may even become a love interest of Malone or Roxton. The friendly female native first appeared in the 1960 Irwin Allen version and has been a staple ever since.

To be fair this character does have something of a small precedent in the book itself. Just before they leave the Plateau all 4 of the explorers are offered up wives by the natives, but they politely turn them down. Their proposed wives play no real role in the story however, but the idea of the explorers finding romance as it were on the Plateau is not entirely a deviation from Doyle’s story.

The most faithful adaptation of Doyle’s novel is arguably the 2001 tv miniseries produced by Tim Haines, the man behind Walking with Dinosaurs. This version stays close for the most part to the original novel and even has Allosaurus as the main Dinosaur. It also refreshingly portrays the natives as a civilised and advanced society rather than a group of vicious savages.

However once again there is a female explorer and whilst the natives are portrayed sympathetically, they do still turn on the explorers after Challengers actions accidentally cause the two Allosaurus to attack the village. The natives however seem to forgive Roxton who in a further deviation is left behind and marries the friendly native girl of this version.

The Lost World is to Dinosaur fiction what Dracula is to Vampire fiction. Its the quintessential Dinosaur adventure and one of the most influential pieces of prose ever written.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be surprised to see the two women as well as the T-Rex’s on his plateau. 

Caspak Trilogy (1924)

The Caspak trilogy consists of The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, and Out of Time’s Abyss. All 3 have regularly been collected together in one volume, though they are also still released separately too. For the sake of this list however I have decided to list them as one story. I feel they work better as the one adventure.

The Caspak trilogy represents a somewhat grittier, darker take on the Lost World idea than either The Lost World or Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

The main characters do not choose to visit Caspak for the sake of scientific curioisty. Instead they become trapped there after their mission is sabotaged by a traitor. Furthermore the explorers do not all willingly work together either. They are made up of British, American and German soldiers from the First World War, who are forced together to survive, but who ultimately betray one another.

None of the explorers in The Lost World or Journey to the Centre of the Earth were killed either. They all made it back and were given happy endings to boot, where as in Burroughs trilogy, many of the main characters meet violent ends at the hands of the Dinosaurs and monsters they come across.

The darker more pessimistic tone of Land That Time Forgot can be seen to reflect the time this story was written when compared to the earlier classics. This adventure written not long after the first world war, and not long before the great depression reflects a more unsure, darker time as opposed to The Lost World.

In terms of the Dinosaurs there is a much larger bestiary of creatures, with Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus making an appearance. Edgar Rice Burroughs was fascinated by Dinosaurs. Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne merely had an interest in them, but Burroughs loved them so much he would write many books about the beasts. The second entry in the series however tends to focus more on the natives of the island. The second and third books also create a new kind of creature, a vicious winged humanoid known as the Wieroo, which is feared by many of the natives even more so than the Dinosaurs!

The Wieroo marks the beginning of a trend in future Lost World stories of introducing new, fictional beasts, which Burroughs would continue to a greater extent in his Pellucador series.

Burroughs also goes into much greater detail about his Lost World than even Conan Doyle did and he provides a full and proper explanation as to why it exists. Here evolution is determined by the location of the island and individual mutation. It’s a complicated process which Burroughs describes as such in Out of Time’s Abyss.

“All came up from the beginning. The egg from which they first developed into tadpole form was deposited, with millions of others, in one of the warm pools…. Down the warm stream from the pool floated the countless billions of eggs and tadpoles, developing as they drifted slowly toward the sea. Some became tadpoles in the pool, some in the sluggish stream and some not until they reached the great inland sea. In the next stage they became fishes or reptiles, An-Tak was not positive which, and in this form, always developing, they swam far to the south, where, amid the rank and teeming jungles, some of them evolved into amphibians. Always there were those whose development stopped at the first stage, others whose development ceased when they became reptiles.    Few indeed were those that eventually developed into baboons and then apes, which was considered by Caspakians the real beginning of evolution.   From the ape the individual, if it survived, slowly developed into the lowest order of man — the Alu — and then by degrees to Bo-lu, Sto-lu, Band-lu, Kro-lu and finally Galu. And in each stage countless millions of other eggs were deposited in the warm pools of the various races and floated down to the great sea to go through a similar process of evolution outside the womb as develops our own young within;

Burrough’s also even gives his Lost World a name Caspak, though it is known as Caprona by the explorers with Caspak being the name its natives give to it.

The Caspak trilogy is also notable for its strong female characters. Whilst much of the novel is still of its time in terms of attitudes to race and gender, Lys La Rue from Land That Time Forgot and the native girl Ajor from People That Time Forgot are both portrayed as strong, brave, resourceful and regularly save the main male characters lives.

Lysa is actually in some ways portrayed as being more competent than Bowen J Tyler. It is Lysa who not only figures out the identity of the real saboteur, but also singlehandedly saves the British crew from the Germans after they are captured in the opening part of the novel. She is also shown to survive the horrors of the island by herself for several days after she becomes separated from Bowen.

Burroughs generally tended to write more dynamic and interesting female characters than many of the contemporaries. By modern standards his female characters may be somewhat lacking, but still much like Doyle he tended be ahead of the curve in more ways than one.

Whilst the Caspak trilogy may not be Burrough’s best work, they are still exciting and engaging stories in their own right and a must have for any fan of Dinosaur fiction.

The three books were later adapted as two films for Amicus studios in the 70s, The Land that Time Forgot, People that Time Forgot starring Doug McClure.

Pellucidar novel series (1914-1944)

Whilst this is technically a series, ultimately much like the Caspak trilogy, I feel that the Pellucidar novels work better as a one long story. That’s not to say that the individual stories aren’t great in their own right, but still I find that when you read one it isn’t enough. You have to read another and another, so I am listing all the books together in this list.

Burrough’s has always been one of my favourite authors because I think he really had a talent for creating whole worlds that would spread out across many books like no other.

Most writers would usually only create one big fictional universe like J R R Tolkien and Middle Earth, but Burrough’s has many with Tarzan, John Carter, Pellucidar, Caspak and the Amtor (Venus) series. Though the Tarzan and Pellucidar series were actually linked via a crossover story, Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.

The Pellucidar series revolves around yet another land at the center of the earth where Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures still roam to this day, but it combines magical, fantastical elements with science fiction concepts.

Its much wilder than previous Lost World stories and features ideas like sentient Pterosaurs called Mahars, that are able to take control of people via mind control and kill their victims by forcing them to drown themselves. Best of all is a flying Stegosaurus that is able to glide through the air using the plates on its back in Tarzan at the Earth’s core.

Pellucidar takes the Lost World formula to a whole new level by filling it full of many fictional species of creatures. Previous Lost World stories had featured fictional creatures from the giant Ape man in Journey to The Centre of The Earth, to the Ape Men in The Lost World, to the Wiemoo in the Caspak trilogy. However all of these monsters were different in that they all had at least some basis in science. Pellucidar takes it to a whole new level by having actual supernatural creatures inhabit the Lost World.

From this point on most Lost World stories will often invent their own monsters as well as having regular Dinosaurs such as Skull Island with King Kong, the Savage Land in Marvel Comics with its various Dinosaur and ape men and even later versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World, such as the version in the 1990’s tv series that has everything from Dinosaur men, to Aliens from outer space, to Vampires!

The Pellucidar series had a massive influence on many subsequent works of fiction including H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountain of Madness. I’d also argue that it had an influence on subsequent adaptations of other Lost World stories too. The friendly native girl that often pops up in the later versions of The Lost World really has more in common with Dian the Beautiful from this series.

The full series consists of

At the Earth’s Core (1914)

Pellucidar (1915)

Tanar of Pellucidar (1929)

Tarzan at the Earth’s Core (1929)

Back to the Stone Age (1937)

Land of Terror (1944)

Savage Pellucidar (1963)

Surprisingly there have only been two adaptations of stories from the series. One film version of At the Earth’s Core in the mid 70’s starring Peter Cushing and Caroline Munro, and another television adaptation of Tarzan at the Earth’s Core which served as the pilot for a Tarzan tv series.

Raptor Red (1995)

This novel was written by paleontologist Bob Bakker. It tells the story of a Utahraptor named Red and her attempts to survive after her pack’s death.

Its obviously written from a third person perspective. Think of it as being like Walking with Dinosaurs though it actually came a few years earlier.

The story despite being written by one of the worlds leading experts on Dinosaurs does take a few creative liberties with what the Dinosaurs could actually do.

Utahraptor for instance whilst being a formidable predator most likely would not have been able to kill a sauropod like it does in this novel.

Its quite an interesting change to focus on a predatory Dinosaur. Normally stories that feature only Dinosaur characters tend to focus on the herbivores like say The Land Before Time. The novel does quite a good job of getting us to sympathise with and root for what was one of the most dangerous predators ever to live on the planet!

I don’t know if I’d rate it quite as a classic but it is an enjoyable read nonetheless. Its fun reading about Dinosaurs frolicking in their natural habitat and running around without any damn humans getting in the way.

Jurassic Park (1990)

There are many reasons Jurassic Park stands out as the most acclaimed Dinosaur novel after The Lost World itself.

Obviously it has benefited in terms of fame from the fantastic film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg in 1993, but still I think the novel can hold its own even without the film.

It’s not just another variation of the Lost World theme. That’s the problem with Dinosaurs is that as interesting as they are, there are only a few ways you can bring them back into the modern world.

Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle basically established the method to bring them back by having them survive in a little remote area, and after that you can tell it was hard for writers to think up new ways that weren’t just variations of that. Even Godzilla though a very different type of Dinosaur story still used that method to bring the titular Dinosaur into modern day.

Jurassic Park which had the Dinosaurs brought back by cloning broke the mould and in doing so was able to explore a new theme. Jurassic Park explores the idea of man tampering with nature, rather than exploring the unknown like The Lost World.

The Dinosaurs are almost like a prehistoric Frankenstein Monster turning on the people who created them. Whilst the ideas in the novel of Dinosaurs being brought back through cloning might seem far fetched, it might not be complete science fiction.

Jack Horner a leading Paleontologist (who worked on the Jurassic Park films) has in fact embarked on a project to clone a Dinosaur from a Chicken!

See here

Paleontologist Jack Horner is hard at work trying to turn a Chicken into a Dinosaur.

Crichton’s novels may still turn out to be somewhat prophetic!

Of course it should be said that Jurassic Park was not actually the first novel to explore the idea of Dinosaurs being brought back by cloning.

Carnosaur by Australian author John Bronson revolves around Dinosaurs being created in the modern day through cloning, and it predated Jurassic Park by about 6 years. Now I have not had a chance to read Carnosaur yet so I am afraid I could not include it on this list, though it sounds brilliant.

Having looked at its synopsis it appears to be more of a comic book type of story about a mad professor who plans to have his Dinosaurs repopulate the earth. Not that I am holding that against it, but still I think this is where Jurassic Park establishes its own identity in that it sees people try and capitalise on the new scientific discovery instead.

Still its interesting seeing how nothing is original. Even something as ground breaking as Jurassic Park has a precedent.

It would be funny to think that at some point in 1990 this might have happened to Michael Crichton after he sold his novel to his publisher, and was talking about this great new idea he had of Dinosaurs being brought back by cloning to his friend at the local store; only for the person behind the counter who was a fan of Carnosaur to give him a dressing down like this. It could also have happened to Edgar Rice Burroughs when he talked about his new idea about Dinosaurs living at the center of the earth called At the Earth’s Core, and a fan of Journey to the Center of the Earth told him off.

Maybe Skinner shouldn’t have given up on Billy and the Cloneasaurus after all?

Another great thing about the way this novel portrays its Dinosaurs is that it actually tries to make them seem like real animals. Jurassic Park helped to bring what at that time were many ideas and theories about Dinosaurs that weren’t widely known to the public’s attention, such as the idea that some Dinosaurs may have been warm blooded and that birds evolved from small meat eating Dinosaurs.

The Dinosaurs in this novel are fast, quick and as realistic as they can possibly be.  There are still a few gaffes however. Most famous of all is that Velociraptor is depicted as a 6 foot tall killer capable of disembowling a human being with its sickle like claw. In reality Velociraptor was the size of a turkey. The reason for this was because at that time Velociraptor was considered a member of the Deinonychus family, a much larger group of meat eating Dinosaurs, but this has since been disproven.

Still the book did more than simply use Dinosaurs for thrills and escapism. It tried to teach its reader about them.

Finally the Velociraptors also helped to make a break from the usual Tyrannosaurus/Allosaurus giant meat eater. The T-Rex still got a look in, but the Raptors gave us Dinosaur enemies who could fight you indoors, sneak up on you, even in some circumstances outwit you. The way they killed you was also more gruesome too. With a T-Rex and an Allosaurus its at least over in just one quick bite. With the Raptors its a horrific, painful, drawn out affair as they slice your guts open and eat you alive!

The novel does have some key differences with the film though I won’t reveal what they are so as not to spoil it for people who might only be familiar with the film. It’s a classic piece of entertainment in its own right every bit as much as the film and I can’t recommend it enough.

The Lost World (1995)

The only sequel that Crichton ever wrote to one of his books. This is not as strong as the original. Really I’d say that there is as big a gulf in terms of quality between the first and second books as there is between the first and second films.

However don’t think that means I dislike the book. I happen to still love the second film too by the way. The Lost World doesn’t really add to the point of the first film. It’s plot is really just a collection of Dinosaur attacks.

That’s not to say it isn’t still a page turner of course. The Dinosaur attacks are very exciting and creative such as the Carnotaurs that have camouflage abilities or the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s smashing the trailer over the edge of a cliff ( a scene that was later used in the film), but again whilst its a good read it doesn’t really feel like it has much else to say from the first book.

It bares very little similarity to the film. In fact the only scene from the book that is in the film is the T-Rex vs trailer scene. It could be argued that Spielberg’s film borrows as much from Conan Doyle’s Lost World as it features the idea of a Dinosaur being brought back to civilisation from Doyle’s novel. Really Spielberg’s film is like a hybrid of the two Lost Worlds.

When I first read the book it was like reading a completely new story. I’d say that the book is at places more of a character piece focusing on how Ian and Sarah survive on the island than the film. Definitely worth a look, but not quite the classic the first Jurassic Park is.

Thanks for reading.

Tyrannosaurus vs Spinosaurus

This is probably the question that all Paleontologists get asked at some point. Who would win in a fight between Tyrannosaurus Rex and Spinosaurus.

T-Rex and Spinosaurus were among the two most ferocious predators ever to live on the planet. Both were the undisputed kings of the world’s they lived in, but both lived many millions of years and several continents apart from each other.

Still in this article I will be taking a look at all of the monsters strengths and weaknesses to try and decide who would win in a death match between these two kings of the Dinosaur world.

This article will try and look at things in a fair and balanced way. I freely admit I am more of a T-Rex fan than a Spinosaurus fan, but this will be looking at cold hard facts.

Image result for tyrannosaurus rex

The Tyrant

VS

The Pharoh

First up lets take a look at both beasts.

Tyrannosaurus Rex is by far and away the most famous Dinosaur. It was also among the last Dinosaurs to have ever existed, living at the tail end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.

For over 90 years Tyrannosaurus was believed to be the largest land based predator of all time, but we now know that there were three larger meat eating Dinosaurs. Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and finally Spinosaurus itself now thought to be the lagestt.

Still Tyrannosaurus Rex was the largest predator in its environment. It was over 40 feet long, 18 feet tall at the hips and could weigh anywhere between 9 long tons and 21 short tons. Tyrannosaurus would have preyed upon Hadrosaurs, Ceratopsians and sauropods such as Edmontosaurus, Triceratops and Alamosaurus.

Whilst T-Rex may no longer be considered the largest land based predator, in terms of raw power it is still utterly unrivalled. For instance. Tyrannosaurus is believed to have had the strongest bite force of possibly any animal ever to live on the planet.

In 2005 the BBC documentary the Truth About Killer Dinosaurs built a reconstruction of a T-Rex head called Steely Dan.  Steely Dan revealed a number of interesting things about the power of a Tyrannosaurus.

First of all its bite was believed to have been a little over 4 tons. This would have given T- Rex a stronger bite than any animal alive today and a stronger bite than any other meat eating dinosaur (including Spinosaurus). With a bite of 4 tons Tyrannosaurus could have easily crushed a small car in its mouth no problem. It also would have been able to rip off more than 500 pounds of flesh in one bite.

T-Rex could fit a whole lion in its mouth easy!

Furthermore due to having such a powerful bite. Tyrannosaurus Rex’s entire skeleton would have been stronger than reinforced steel and that’s just its skeleton. Think of how powerful the animal overall would have been when you add the muscles and thick skin over that!

Whilst this documentary was ground breaking at the time in the ten plus years since further studies have been conducted. It is now accepted that Tyrannosaurus Rex would have had a bite force of over 9 tons. Over twice that of Steely Dan’s!

Other studies meanwhile by Gregory M Erikson who worked on both Steely Dan and the Dino’s vs Mammal’s series, as well as by Mason B Meers have shown that Tyrannosaurus would have had a bite force exceeding 23 tons.

If this estimate were true then it would mean Tyrannosaurus would have had the strongest bite force of any animal ever to live on the earth.

The Megalodon shark has a bite force of just over 20 tons. Deinosuchus a prehistoric crocodile had a bite force of just over 11 tons. Spinosaurus’s bite force was over three tons. A Great White Shark’s is 1 ton, and a Tiger which has the largest bite of any land mammalian carnivore has a bite force of just over half a ton.

Thus T-Rex could bite over twice as hard as Deinosuchus, 8 times as hard as Spinosaurus and close to 50 times as hard as a tiger.

As if that wasn’t enough Tyrannosaurus’ teeth were also designed with little meat hooks on the inside of every tooth that would pull more and more meat from its victims into its throat, the more they tried to struggle free. The hooks on its teeth would also have caused meat to become stuck between the teeth, which would have caused the bacteria from the rotting meat in its mouth to build up over time, effectively giving Tyrannosaurus a poison bite.

If the force of Tyrannosaur bite didn’t kill its victim, or the blood loss from losing over 500 pounds of flesh didn’t kill them. Then the poison from its mouth would have killed its prey in a very nasty, painful and disgusting way over a short space of time.

Tyrannosaurus could also lift a tremendous amount of weight off of the ground in its jaws too. Close to 5 tons which is about the weight of an African Elephant.

T-Rex’s were also incredibly durable animals overall. Tyrannosaurus skeletons have been shown to have healed from gruesome injuries that would have killed other animals such as a broken neck, bite marks from other Tyrannosaurus in the brain case, scratches from Triceratops horns. Even whacks from Anklyosaur clubs (which could swing with a force of over 4 tons.)

Finally as if that wasn’t enough Tyrannosaurus Rex also was a highly intelligent animal, at least by Dinosaur standards. It was the most intelligent giant Dinosaur and its intelligence was most likely greater than that of Alligators and Crocodiles. Alligators and Crocodiles are more intelligent than some species of cats and dogs. If you were brave enough you could even teach a T-Rex tricks!

Some experts believe that Tyrannosaurus Rex’s intelligence was greater than that of a Lion’s too.

A T-Rex couldn’t have hugged you as its arms were too small, but it could have loved you just as much.

T-Rex’s larger brain would have allowed its senses to be much more refined and advanced too. Its sense of vision was particularly strong and its sense of smell was according to Bob Bakker one of the worlds leading experts on Dinosaurs comparable to 100 blood hounds.

https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/inside-the-mind-of-a-dinosaur-2/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20not%20only%20was,could%20hear%20low%2Dfrequency%20sounds.

Spinosaurus meanwhile was a relatively obscure Dinosaur for decades until it shot to fame when it starred in Jurassic Park 3 in 2001.

Spinosaurus was the largest land based predator ever to live on the planet. This was not conformed until 2006 however. Spinosaurus could reach a length of 59 feet long and weigh anywhere between 7 and 23 tons. It was also roughly about 20 feet tall at the hips. Spinosaurus lived during the early to middle Cretaceous period 112 to 97 million years ago.

It was the apex predator in its environment, though there is some evidence that it came into conflict with another giant meat eating dinosaur named Carcharodontosaurus which was larger than T-Rex. One Spinosaurus specimen had the bite mark of a Carcharodontosaurus on its sail.

Spinosaurus would have preyed on other large Dinosaurs, but there is evidence that its diet consisted of mostly marine life. It was a semi aquatic animal that spent a good deal of its time in the water. Don’t think this makes it any less impressive a hunter however. The marine life it preyed on would have included massive predators far larger and stronger than the Great White Shark or the Giant Squid!

Spinosaurus’s teeth were better designed for gripping long slippery prey which is why they were thinner than the robust teeth of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Spinosaurus also had a considerably smaller bite than Tyrannosaurus at just 3 tons. Though that is still far greater than any animal alive today and would have been powerful enough to bite through a car door or bite a human being in half. Its still quite small for an animal of that size. Spinosaurus was also not as intelligent as Tyrannosaurus or as fast.

Where it did have an advantage over Tyrannosaurus however aside from its greater size was in the massive claws on its arms.

Now we all know about Tyrannosaurus Rex’s little arms. They’ve been the punch line of many jokes and meme’s over the years. In reality those little arms were still surprisingly strong, and as we have seen Tyrannosaurus really wouldn’t have needed them due to its powerful bite.

Still just as T-Rex didn’t need big arms Spinosaurus it can be argued didn’t need a colossal bite either.

The claws on its fingers were as massive as the meat hooks you’d find in a slaughter house. The beast could also swing its arms with a force of over 6 tons.

This would have meant that being hit by the Spino’s claws would have been like getting hit by 3 cars (your average car weighs 2 tons) with massive meat hooks from a slaughter house on the front at a tremendous speed. This would most certainly be enough to pierce the hide of a Tyrannosaurus Rex no problem.

So then which would win in a one on one fight? Well there are many factors to take into consideration.

Chief among them is the environment. If the two beasts are out in the wild well then it really could go either way.

There are so many things that could tip it in the other animals favour out in the wild. To start with one of the animals may be sick or old, or one may be alone going against a pack. Also it depends on where they are fighting.

If its in the jungle Tyrannosaurus is going to have the advantage. Not only will it be more familiar with the environment but it will also be more manoeuvrable too. Its also faster on the land and its not hindered by that big sail. Down by the water however Spino obviously has the clear advantage. In the water its faster, it can strike like lightening. It could easily leap out and grab a Tyrannosaurus and pull it into the water where the Rex would be helpless in no time.

Trying to say who would win in a fight between Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus in the wild is like saying who would win in a fight between a Crocodile and a Lion.

Sometimes the Croc will win, sometimes the Lion will kill the Croc for various reasons. You can never say who will win for sure.

If Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus did get brought back from extinction, either through cloning or time travel and were forced to live on the same island. They most likely would never bother each other. Large carnivores like Crocodiles and Lions generally give each other a wide berth.

A fight with another large predator could end very badly even for the victor. A Lion might kill a Crocodile, but the Croc could still break its leg in the fight preventing the Lion from being able to hunt, fight off other Lions or defend its territory.

Unless they are desperate most large predators will instead hunt herbivore’s who aren’t as big a threat to them and Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus would most likely be the same.

A fight in the wild between Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus if they ever did live in the same habitat would be a very rare thing indeed and if ever it did happen it would be impossible to predict the outcome due to so many outside factors. Both have a good chance of killing the other that much is true, but things like the age of the Dinosaurs, whether they were alone, or even where they were fighting would all have to be taken into account.

I’d give Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus a 50/50 chance of killing each other in the wild.

What about in more controlled circumstances however?

Lets imagine its an alternate universe where the Dinosaurs were never driven to extinction and Trodon’s, small intelligent meat eating Dinosaurs evolved into intelligent humanoids, Dinosauroids.

Image result for dinosauroid

Believe it or not Richard Dawkins has said that this could have happened.

The Dinosauroids develop an advanced society and just as we used to capture Lions and Tigers and pit them against each other in death matches to see who was the king of the Jungle. Lets imagine the Dinosauroids start capturing Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus pit them against each other in order to see who is the king of the beasts.

This is a fair fight. Two young, healthy males, in an arena that is a completely neutral environment. No jungle, no water. Both are land animals (even if Spinosaurus spent a lot of time in the water.) Both are hungry and have no way of escape. Who wins this fight?

Well once again we have to take certain factors into account.

How big are the Tyrannosaurus and the Spinosaurus for instance?

If its a twenty three ton Spinosaurus against a 9 ton Tyrannosaurus then forget it. Its a curb stomp in favour of Spinosaurus. The size difference between the animals in that scenario is too big. Yes a 9 ton Tyrannosaurus would still have a bigger bite than a Spinosaurus, but sadly that wouldn’t do it any good.

Plenty of predators with massive bites are still killed by predators larger than they are.

Take a look at Lions vs Hyena’s or Killer Whales vs Great White Sharks. The White Shark and the Hyena have bigger bites than the Lion and the Killer Whale, but they still always lose in one on one fights because the other predator is just too big to mess with.

The size difference between a 23 ton Spinosaurus and a 9 ton Tyrannosaurus is not quite the same as that between a Shark and a Whale, but the Spino is still close to 3 times heavier than the Rex.

Still this is not exactly a fair fight. Taking the highest estimate for Spinosaurus and pitting it against the lowest for Tyrannosaurus. Remember that Tyrannosaurus was said to have gotten to 21 short tons in which case there is only a two ton difference between them.

Also remember that whilst most experts agree that Spinosaurus was longer than Tyrannosaurus many believe that it was not as heavy as it had a considerably lighter build and frame.

So with this in mind if we did have a Tyrannosaurus that was heaver even just by a ton against a Spinosaurus. I think it would be a curb stomp in favour of the Tyrannosaurus. Spino’s biggest advantage is its superior weight, and without that then Tyrannosaurus is its superior in every way. Faster, smarter, stronger. Spino is sadly outclassed and an angry bull Rex could rip it limb from limb. The same applies for two specimens the same size.

In order for this to be a fair fight for both lets have a 21 ton Tyrannosaurus go up against a 23 ton Spinosaurus or a 7 ton Tyrannosaurus go up against 9 ton Spinosaurus.

Lets also say that this is a two legged Spinosaurus. Some experts believe that Spinosaurus was a four legged animal, though there is not conclusive evidence for this. A four legged Spinosaurus would be at a real height disadvantage against a Tyrannosaurus. Its neck would be right open to a more fleet footed in comparison Tyrannosaurus. Whilst the Spino could still perhaps rear up to use its claws. It would be too awkward to use them against a Tyrannosaurus. Those who believe Spinosaurus was a four legged animal believe that on land the creature would have been clumsy as its legs were small. Really I think this would be another fight that would be overwhelmingly in favour of Tyrannosaurus.

So lets make this fight between a two legged 59 foot long Spinosaurus that weighs 23 tons and a 42 foot long Tyrannosaurus that weighs about 21 tons.

Who wins this fight?

Well again I’d give this to Tyrannosaurus Rex. It wouldn’t be a curb stomp. I’d say Tyrannosaurus would win 60 percent of the time.

Fact is as ferocious as Spinosaurus is, its simply outclassed in too many ways by old Rexy.

To start with T-Rex is faster which is very important in a fight. Also T-Rex is smarter. Now you might not think that matters with two animals but it does. For instance in fights between Lions and Tigers, the Tigers greater intelligence is a huge advantage as the Tiger is smart enough to rear on its back legs, unlike the Lion who only strikes with one paw. The Tiger can strike the Lion in the face with both paws and overwhelm it. Likewise killer whales when fighting Great Whites will often flip them on their belly and hold the Shark upside down until it passes out.

Whose to say in a similar confrontation Tyrannosaurus wouldn’t be able to figure out any weaknesses Spinosaurus had? It certainly would be more likely to than Spinosaurus.

Also in terms of weapons Tyrannosaurus has the advantage. To start with its jaws are much more deadly than Spinosaurus claws and it can use them a lot more easily.

When the two animals faced one another Tyrannosaurus could reach out and bite Spinosaurus on the neck much more easily than Spino could use its claws.

When the two predators faced the weapons they would both be more likely to use would bee their jaws. Spinosaurus’s arms would have been too short to reach out and grab the Tyrannosaurus. It’s not like King Kong, whose arms can reach out and hold the Tyrannosaur at bay before it can bite him.

Image result for king kong vs tyrannosaurus rex

See how Kongs arms are useful weapons because they are long. Spino’s though bigger than Tyrannosaurus’s could not reach out past its face.

If Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus faced each other then they would rely on their jaws, as in order to use its claws then Spinosaurus would have to get too near to Tyrannosaurus and leave itself open to a bite.

In a biting match it’s obvious who’s going to win. Tyrannosaurus Rex’s were known to bite each other in the face regularly and since their bites were possibly almost 8 times that of a Spinosaurus, then its safe to say T. Rex could take a bite from a Spinosaurus to the face. Spinosaurus meanwhile would most certainly not be able to take a bite from a Tyrannosaurus.

All Tyrannosaurus would need would be one bite and the Spinosaurus would be finished. If it bit it on the neck it would crush the bones in its neck effortlessly. Even the lowest estimates of a Tyrannosaurus bite which are now thought to be inaccurate could crush an entire car and rip off over 500 pounds of flesh. A Spinosaurus’ neck would be no problem whatsoever.

Even if Tyrannosaurus bit Spinosaurus on the arm it would have been strong enough to rip the animals entire arm off. Even if it just bit Spinosaurus on the side then it would have ripped off 500 pounds of flesh and the wound would have become infected too.

The fact that Tyrannosaurus Rex was faster and had better vision would have given it a much better chance of striking a deadly blow against the Spinosaurus.

Spinosaurus’s claws though deadly weapons could not have killed Tyrannosaurus instantly. I think it would need a few slashes to bring it down. Remember Tyrannosaurus’s are animals that could withstand injuries like a bite to the brain case or a broken neck. It would take a while for Spinosaurus’s claws, which would be very difficult for it to use anyway.

Spinosaurus also could not use its claws to twist Tyrannosaurus’s neck like in Jurassic Park 3 as Spinosaurus’s hands could only face each other as though they were clapping. If they tried to bend round then they would have broken. The same is also true of other meat eating dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus itself.

All Spinosaurus could use its claws for, would be to slash Tyrannosaurus from side to side across the face.

I could see Spinosaurus kill Tyrannosaurus two different ways in this scenario. It could quickly ram Tyrannosaurus and knock the monster off its feet which its superior weight would allow it to do. When Tyrannosaurus was on the floor it would be easier for Spinosaurus to slash at Tyrannosaurus with its claws. Provided it went for the Rex’s throat it could get a quick kill if it cut its jugular.

Another scenario where Spinosaurus could win against the Rex would be if it bit it on the neck and pulled the T-Rex towards its arms which its superior body mass might allow it to do. It would then uses its claws to repeatedly slash at Tyrannosaurus’ face and its eyes over and over again until the pain and blood loss weakened Tyrannosaurus to the point where it couldn’t fight back.

Whilst it most certainly would be possible for the Spinosaurus to kill the Tyrannosaurus these ways, at the same time Spinosaurus would be putting itself in danger. When Tyrannosaurus fell on the ground and Spinosaurus tried to slash it Tyrannosaurus could reach up and bite its arm, crushing it. Or similarly when Spinosaurus got Tyrannosaurus by the neck, T. Rex could reach up and bite the Spino on the neck in which case once again it would be over for the Spinosaurus, or the Rex could bite at its arms too.

Tyrannosaurus on the other hand I can see winning more easily. The two would face each other and charge at each other instinctively using their jaws, Tyrannosaurus who is a lot faster would be able to dodge its opponent a lot more easily and then strike at the Spino’s neck. One bite would either kill it or disable the Spino so much that it would be too weak to fight and then a few more bites from T-Rex would be enough to finish the Spinosaurus.

Whilst the Spino could certainly kill T.Rex, I simply see T. Rex being able to kill the Spino much more easily and therefore I am going to have say that Tyrannosaurus would be the more likely winner.

So then in conclusion as to who would win in a fight with Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus, I see it like this

In the wild Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus would have a 50/50 chance of killing each other.

In a Dinosauroid arena match however

23 ton Spinosaurus vs 9 ton Tyrannosaurus, 100 percent in favour of the Spinosaurus.

Tyrannosaurus that is slightly heavier or the same size in weight as Spinosaurus, 80 percent in favour of the Tyrannosaurus.

4 legged 23 ton Spinosaurus against a 21 ton Tyrannosaurus, 70 percent in favour of the Tyrannosaurus.

21 ton Tyrannosaurus against a 23 ton Spinosaurus, 60 percent in favour of the Tyrannosaurus.

The Tyrannosaurus wins in more scenario’s but Spinosaurus is a worthy foe at least and it would most certainly be capable of killing a T. Rex.

Also bare in mind the only time that I feel there would ever be an absolute 100 percent chance of one animal killing the other would be in Spinosaurus’s favour.

Ultimately however Tyrannosaurus I simply feel at the end of the day was a superior predator and in most scenario’s would kill its rival.

Dinosaur Spotlight 2 Deinonychus

This small, fleet footed, meat eating Dinosaur is arguably one of the most important Dinosaurs in the history of paleontology. It’s no exaggeration to say that this remarkable animal change the way we looked at Dinosaurs in general. Thanks to Deinonychus,the idea of Birds being the direct descendants of Dinosaurs was cemented in popular culture.

Deinonychus was a highly sophisticated predatory animal. What it lacked in size and power it more than made up for in intelligence and speed. Though there have been some conflicting theories on how this Dinosaur lived and hunted, it is agreed that it was a formidable predator.

Overview

Deinonychus lived during the early Cretaceous period 115 – 108 million years ago. It shared its world with other giant plant eating dinosaurs like Tenontosaurus. Deinonychus was a relatively small carnivore by Dinosaur standards at least. It could each a maximum of just over 11 feet long and was a little over 2 feet tall at the hips.

Deinonychus was a member of the Dromeosaur family. A group of small meat eating Dinosaurs that also included the likes of the famous Velociraptor. It shared many similarities with other Dromeosaurs and modern day birds such as hollow bones, a wish bone and feathers. Though no skin impressions have been found of Deinonychus it can be safely assumed that it had feathers due to the fact that its closest relatives all possessed them.

Image result for deinonychus old and new reconstruction

Image result for deinonychus old and new reconstruction

Outdated reconstruction of Deinonychus with a modern one.

Deinonychus like many other Dromeosaurs had a massive cycle like claw on its foot, though the exact way this claw used used in tackling prey is a matter of debate. It also had long forearms with long claws and powerful jaws, with a bite force greater than that of any living mammalian predator.

In addition to this Deinonychus was also a very intelligent animal. Though its intelligence still most likely would not have been comparable to say modern mammals it would have still been on a par with many avian species.

According to recent studies however it is believed that Tyrannosaurus may have had greater intelligence than a Chimpanzee, which means that Deinonychus’ intelligence may have been on a par with some modern mammals.

The first Deinonychus fossils were discovered in 1931 in southern Montana by Barnum Brown who named the animal Daptosaurus. More complete remains would be discovered by John Ostrom in the 1960’s, during which he renamed the animal Deinonychus Antirrihopus. Deinonychus means “Terrible Claw”.

How Did Deinonychus Kill Its Prey

Whilst it is accepted that Deinonychus was a vicious predator, there is some debate about how it killed its victims.

Originally it was believed that the animal used its sickle like claw to disembowel its victims alive. Many also believed that it hunted in packs. John Ostrom argued that this way Deinonychus despite its smaller size could hunt giant Dinosaurs including Ceratopsians and Tenontosaurs.

Images like this of Raptors descending on their victims like a pack of wolves have embedded themselves in popular culture, but sadly it appears that this would not have been possible.

Biomechanical reconstructions of a Velociraptor claw for the 2005 Docu The Truth about Killer Dinosaurs showed that its claw could not disembowel. The claw was smooth and designed only for puncturing. Further reconstructions also showed that the claw could not even have penetrated the skin of a small Crocodile without snapping.

Deinonychus was larger than Velociraptor and therefore most likely would have been able to strike with more force. Still it’s unlikely that it would have been able to pierce the hide’s of giant Ceratopsian Dinosaurs.

Added to that evidence that Deinonychus hunted in packs is not as strong as it once was. It seems in all likelihood that Deinoynichus was not a predator of larger Dinosaurs.

An exceptional fossil of a Velociraptor locked in battle with a Protoceratops may give an insight into how Deinonychus used that sickle like claw however.

The fossil in question is of a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops fighting with one another. How they died in this position no one knows, though it seems likely that they were perhaps buried by a sandstorm whilst fighting each other.

Now when you look at the fossil closely you can see how the Protoceratops is using its jaws to clamp down on the Raptors arms whilst the Velociraptor is stabbing its sickle claw into its enemies neck.

Some paleontologists have proposed that this is what the claw was used for instead of disembowling. Velociraptor and its relatives would have thrust their claws into their victims necks and killed them by asphyxiation. There is also strong evidence that Velociraptor dragged away and killed the babies of much larger dinosaurs like Ankylosaurus. This is shown in the final episode of Walking with Dinosaurs when two Dromeosaurs, relatives of Velociraptor and Deinonychus drag a baby Torosaurus away to its death.

A third theory has been proposed however that Deinonychus would have hunted in a manner similar to modern day birds of prey.

It would have, using the claw on its hands and feet scaled trees after which it would have glided down using its arms like wings onto the back of smaller plant eating Dinosaurs. The claws on the Dinosaurs hands and feet would then have wrestled its victims to the ground. Deinonychus would then have used its jaws (which were more powerful than any Mammalian carnivore) to tear large chunks of flesh from its victims, until the blood loss and shock killed them.

Whatever the case I think it can be agreed that death by Deinonychcus would be a very nasty way to go. Either you would get your stomach sliced open and your guts spilled out. Your throat pierced and made to choke on your own blood. Or pounced on from behind, pinned down with razor sharp claws and bitten over and over until you passed out and were eaten alive!

Role in the Dinosaur Renaissance 

John Ostrom’s (pictured above) study of Deinonychus played an important role in changing how both Paleontologists and even the general public viewed Dinosaurs.

Deinonychus showed people that Dinosaurs were not all slow, sluggish, dimwitted creatures. Deinonychus was clearly an active, intelligent creature. Ostrom also noticed several similarities between this dinosaur and modern day birds. This was not the first time a link between birds and Dinosaurs had been proposed. The first person to do so was Thomas Henry Huxley in the 19th century based on fossils of Archeoptryx the first bird.

However it would be following Ostrom’s extensive study of Deinonychus that this theory began to gain more mainstream attention and now 50 years on it is universally accepted that birds are living Dinosaurs. Naturally our views of Dinosaurs have changed as a result.

We now view them as fast, intelligent, and sophisticated animals. More importantly however, we no longer view Dinosaurs as a thing of a past. In fact there are technically more Dinosaurs than people

Ostroms research into and study of Deinonychus has been called the most important paleontological dinosaur related work of the mid 20th century.

Next up we shall explore how this Dinosaur has been represented in popular culture.

Tyrannosaurus Rex’s Appearances in Popular Culture/ Part 1/ Film

Tyrannosaurus Rex is by far and away the most famous Dinosaur. Over the years it has had a career few actors could dare dream of, having played every role from the leading man, to the tough grizzled anti hero, to the villain, to the plucky comic relief. He has starred in horror movies, sci fi classics, comedies, and even bizarre rom coms! He has worked with such big names as Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Ray Harryhausen and has faced everyone from Batman, to King Kong, to Doctor Who, to The Ghostbusters, to Angel, to Homer Simpson. He has even had an iconic band named after him!

Yes old Rexy is a superstar there is no doubt about that and in this article I am going to be looking at all of the Tyrant Lizard King’s most iconic moments in cinema history. It’s doubtless that this article won’t even begin to represent half of T-Rex’s total appearances on the big screen, but still I hope at the very least to capture his most memorable moments in films nonetheless.

So join me as I explore how one Dinosaur has managed to remain in the public’s consciousness as a symbol of sheer terror like no other as we take a look at Tyrannosaurus Rex on the big screen.

Film Appearances

Picture for the upcoming sequel from the cult hit Dark Sky which will involve Nazi’s and T-Rex’s.

Tyrannosaurus has had quite the film career. He has had a part in pretty much every iconic Dinosaur film you can think of, usually as the main villain or sometimes hero. He has however appeared in other non Dinosaurs films too such as Night at the Museum. Often whenever a movie needs to have a Dinosaur of some kind, whether for comedy or tension, then the cruel king of the Dinosaurs is the one they go for as it is the arguably the one Dinosaur that absolutely everybody would recognize.

The Willis O’Brien Years

Willis O’Brien is sadly a name that is unfamiliar to most people. He was one of the most influential people in cinema history and his legacy can still be seen today in some of the worlds most acclaimed directors such as Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.

O’Brien contrary to popular belief did not invent stop motion animation, a process where a model is animated frame by frame. He nevertheless was the one who pioneered and brought it to mainstream attention. It was his movies, such as King Kong in particular that would inspire the next generation of special effects guru’s such as the late great Ray Harryhausen who later became O’Brien’s close friend.

O’Brien was fascinated by Dinosaurs and indeed his earliest short films all featured Dinosaurs in them. However it would be his short 1919 film The Ghost of Slumber Mountain that would mark the Tyrant Lizard King’s debut on the big screen.

The Ghost of Slumber Mountain

This film originally ran for 30 minutes but sadly was cut down to just 11 minutes. Its plot (which was written by O’Brien himself) was somewhat surreal.

It involved a man named Holmes telling his nephews about his time on Slumber Mountain where he found a cabin belonging to a late hermit called Mad Dick. Mad Dick apparently had a magic telescope which Holmes later uses to look at Slumber mountain with. There he see’s the mountain as it was 65 million years ago. He sees a Brontosaurus, a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The T-Rex and the Triceratops fight with each other and the Rex kills the Triceratops.

Unfortunately Holmes looks at the Dinosaurs for too long and creates a rip in the very fabric of time itself which allows the Tyrannosaurus to emerge into modern day where it attacks him. The movie not only marks T-Rex’s first appearance on the big screen, but also the first time T-Rex was shown in battle with its archnemesis Triceratops.

The Lost World (1925)

The first full length Dinosaur movie based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of the same name. O’Brien was hired to do the special effects for this film based on the massive success of The Ghost of Slumber Mountain. Though considered crude by today’s standards this silent movie was nevertheless a massive success when it was first released and is still regarded as a classic of the genre 90 years later.

Now Tyrannosaurus Rex did not appear in the original novel. At the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was writing Tyrannosaur fossils were not that well known so Allosaurus was made the main meat eating Dinosaur of Doyle’s novel. Though it should be noted that the large meat eating Dinosaur that appears in the novel of the Lost World is never identified. It is merely speculated by Challenger that it could be either an Allosaurus or a Megalosaurus, but he also admits that it could be any one of the great meat eating beasts.

Still the Dinosaur in The Lost World is often regarded as an Allosaurus and therefore Allosaurus is still the main meat eating Dinosaur that appears in O’Briens Lost World. O’Brien nevertheless would still give his old pal Tyrannosaurus a role in the film.

T-Rex only appears in a single scene, but it is still arguably the most famous from the film and also establishes the T-Rex as the most powerful Dinosaur on the plateau.

The T-Rex attacks a large Ceratopsian Dinosaur called an Agathaumas. Earlier an Allosaurus had attempted to attack this type of Dinosaur and had been hopelessly overpowered and gored to death by it. The T-Rex however is able to dispatch the Agathaumas in a matter of seconds. It leaps on its back and using its mighty jaws pulls the Ceratopsian on its side after which it then rips the Agathaumas’s guts out with its teeth. It’s a great moment that shows just how badass the T-Rex really is when the Agathaumas that had earlier killed an Allosaurus with spectacular ease, is barely able to put up a fight against the Tyrannosaurus at all! The T-Rex not long after killing the Agathaumas then literally leaps through the air and grabs a passing Pteranodon with its tiny arms. It then rips the struggling Pteranodon apart with its jaws before throwing it to the ground and stepping on it.

Again though the sequence is brief it is still very memorable and for decades afterwards would often be used to illustrate how Tyrannosaurus may have battled Triceratops in countless Dinosaur documentary’s, even though the animal is not a Triceratops but an Agathuamas.

King Kong

T-Rex with his new best friend

T-Rex and Willis O’Brien would reunite one last time for what would ultimately be O’Brien’s most successful project King Kong.

Originally after The Lost World O’Brien had hoped to make another Dinosaur film called Creation about another lost land of Dinosaurs discovered in modern day. Tyrannosaurus was among the Dinosaurs slated to appear in the film and it would have battled and killed a Stegosaurus. Ultimately however Creation was shelved by King Kong creator Merian C Cooper who felt that its story was boring. Cooper had nevertheless been impressed with the special effects used to bring the Dinosaurs to life in the test footage shot for Creation and subsequently hired O’Brien to work on his own project about a giant ape falling in love with a human woman.

O’Brien would not only bring the ape to life with his stop motion effects, but he would also insert Dinosaurs into the film as well, including a Stegosaurus, a Brontosaurus, a Pteranodon an Elasmosaurus and of course a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The T-Rex once again appears in only a single scene, but O’Brien makes sure it is memorable. The Tyrannosaurus is shown to battle Kong when it attempts to devour the object of his affections Anne Darrow played by the late Fay Wray.

The fight between Kong and the Tyrannosaurus is arguably the first real Kaiju battle in the history of cinema. It would serve as an inspiration on many subsequent Dinosaur and monster battles over the years such as the infamous battle between the Tyrannosaurus and the Spinosaurus in Jurassic Park 3. There are even shots lifted from the Kong/Tyrannosaur battle for the T-Rex/Spinosaur duel such as the shot of Anne cowering under a tree as the two titans clash, that we see replicated when Grant cowers under a fallen tree as the T-Rex and Spinosaurus size each other up.

Shots taken from this fight can also be seen in Kong’s battle with Godzilla in King Kong vs Godzilla, his fight with Gorosaurus in King Kong Escapes and finally in Peter Jacksons 2005 remake where Kong wrestles with 3 Vastatosaurus Rex’s (descendants of the T-Rex)

In many ways Tyrannosaurus Rex has gone on to become seen as Kong’s archenemy in popular culture. Though the much maligned 70’s remake replaced the T-Rex with a snake, most other versions will have Kong battle a Tyrannosaur including both the 60’s animated series called The King Kong Show and the 00’s animated series Kong the Animated series. A robotic T-Rex is also set to appear in the upcoming Kong-King of the Apes animated series on Netflix. Even the King Homer parody from The Simpsons featured King Homer tangling with a T-Rex.

I think this is probably why the 70’s movie is often seen as the black sheep of the Kong movies. Over time though its reputation has improved ultimately the lack of Dinosaurs, and lack of T-Rex in particular will always make it less enjoyable than the other Kong movies.

I mean really not that Kong isn’t a fairly impressive character, but the makers of the 70’s movie should have known everything is better with Dinosaurs.

Fantasia

Tyrannosaurus Rex would be featured in this iconic Disney movie in the classic The Rite of Spring sequence. This T-Rex is inaccurate for many reasons.

To start with it is shown to live alongside creatures like Dimetrodon and Stegosaurus. Stegosaurus lived during the Jurassic era whilst Tyrannosaurus lived in the Cretaceous period. There is a bigger gap between Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus than there is between us and Tyrannosaurus. Dimetrodon meanwhile lived millions of years before the Dinosaurs. It is also by the way not a Dinosaur. It is from the Synapsid family a group of reptiles that Mammals originated from. Dimetrodon is actually more closely related to you and I than it is to any Dinosaur.

Also finally the Tyrannosaurus has three fingers. At the time it was not known to be fair exactly how many fingers it had and many other depictions from the early 20th century including King Kong gave it three fingers too. There is a long standing rumour however that Walt Disney insisted to the animators that it be given three fingers as he felt it looked better that way.

Inaccuracies aside this remains one of Tyrannosaurus’s most iconic film appearances. The scene where it kills the Stegosaurus is truly a classic Dinosaur battle and actually manages to I think give the Dinosaurs a certain depth for the first time. Unlike in Kong you don’t just look at them as monsters in this scene, but rather actual animals as we are actually meant to sympathise with Stegosaurus as it it is hopelessly outmatched and killed by the T-Rex.

This is really the film that began the whole T-Rex/Stegosaurus feud in popular culture.

T-Rex not surprisingly has many mortal enemies in popular culture, Triceratops, Spinosaurus, Anklyosaurus, and Brontosaurus, though actually only a few of these Dinosaurs would have met Tyrannosaurus in real life.

The famous T-Rex/Stegosaurus fight from this film has since been recreated in the Disneyland Primeval Diorama  and Walt Disney World’s Epcot’s Ellen’s Energy Adventure.

One Million BC

This fantasy film that features Cavemen living alongside Dinosaurs briefly features a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is played by a man in a suit for its fleeting cameo where it tries to devour some small children before being slain by the main protagonist Tumak.

The scene isn’t exactly T-Rex’s best showing. The costume is so crummy that the monster has to spend most of its time hidden behind a bush to conceal himself. Surprisingly though this film was the one that won an Oscar for its special effects instead of King Kong!

The movie is still enjoyable don’t get me wrong, but certainly not one of the highlights of T-Rex’s long and luxurious film career. It only gets a mention here as it was one of the first ever instances of Dinosaurs fighting cavemen in a film, and certainly the most influential.

This movie would later be remade in the 60’s where it was retitled One Million Years BC. The effects for this remake were supplied by Willis O’Brien’s protege Ray Harryhausen. This scene itself was even remade.

The effects were a definite improvement of course, but sadly the attacking Dinosaur in the remake is an Allosaurus not a Tyrannosaurus as Harryhausen felt a Tyrannosaurus would have been too powerful and would have destroyed the Cavemen and their village in no time. Though as it was even an Allosaurus would have been too powerful and would have destroyed the village in no time as well. Thus the attacking Dinosaur is in fact a sub adult Allosaurus.

Dinosaurus

This overlooked 60’s Dinosaur film features a Tyrannosaurus Rex as the main antagonist. The movies plot sees two Dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus and a Brontosaurus as well a caveman that were all frozen in ice awaken on a small island.

Whilst the Brontosaurus and Cavemen naturally are very nice and even both befriend a young boy, the T-Rex goes on the rampage and destroys a bus full of people. The T-Rex however does manage to cause the death of the films main human villain who it crushes under several rocks. Sadly however it also causes the death of the caveman too. It is ultimately defeated at the very end of the film when it is knocked into the ocean by a bulldozer where it apparently dies.

The ending hints that it may have survived however. This was intended as a set up for a sequel that ultimately never happened.

The Tyrannosaurus is brought to life through both stop motion animation and animatronics. Though this film is often overlooked it was nevertheless a huge influence on Michael Crichton the author of Jurassic Park and he himself cited it as one of his influences on Jurassic Park.

The Lost World (1960)

Tyrannosaurus was the main villain in this somewhat sub par version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic directed by Lost in Space creator Irwin Allen.

Now I enjoy this film and it actually has one of the best casts of any version of The Lost World it must be said. Professor George Challenger is played by horror icon Claude Rains and Lord John Roxton is played by The Day The Earth Stood Still star Michael Rennie.

Still where the film is let down is through its Dinosaur effects. This movie uses what has become known as the Slurpasaur technique. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it the Slurpasaur technique is where you basically take a lizard and superimpose it to look big and stick horns on its head. This effect was also used to bring the Dinosaurs in One Million BC to life except for the Tyrannosaurus.

Its actually not bad as long as you don’t use the technique for actual Dinosaurs. If its just supposed to be just a giant monster then okay I’ll buy it. But when you have someone going on about this being a Brontosaurus and we just see a big Lizard then it becomes too much for me.

The Slurpasaur technique was later parodied in “The Lost World Jurassic Park” when Vince Vaughn’s character mentions that he was expecting big iquanas.

The Tyrannosaurus in this movie is represented by a crocodile with fins stuck to its back and horns glued to its head. I suppose it actually looks more like a badly done Spinosaurus than a Tyrannosaurus.

It appears in two sequences. First it wrestles with a Brontosaurus which is represented by a lizard with a frill around its head and fins glued to its back. Once again it actually looks more like a badly done Dilophosaurus than the animal its supposed to be. Or at least the Dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park as the real animal most likely did not have a frill.

This fight sequence is actually a pretty good Dino battle. My only problem with it is that it makes me a bit uncomfortable as we are actually watching real animals fighting with each other.

This was actually one of the reasons that the Slurpasaur technique went out of fashion because many people saw it as a form of animal cruelty. It wasn’t just because of its all around general crappiness.

The Tyrannosaurus shows up again in the final showdown where it is revealed to be the natives of the plateau’s fire god whom they make sacrifices to (similar to Kong).

The T-Rex manages to kill one of the movies more unsympathetic characters who had earlier in what was a very shocking, out of place scene tried to rape the friendly native girl.

I’m not saying you can never show scenes of explicit violence. Obviously if the story warrants then fine, but in this instance it just seemed totally out of place with the rest of the film. The movie seemed like an episode of Lost in Space, just silly, camp fun and then suddenly there looked like what was going to become a scene from a movie like A Clockwork Orange in it.

Still I suppose if anyone had to get killed horribly by a Tyrannosaurus then its good that it was this guy. You’d be hard pushed to find a more unsympathetic T-Rex victim in any film, including even the guy who famously abandons the two children to die in Jurassic Park.

Really if someone had to die in this film then it just had to be him.

The T-Rex is ultimately killed by Gomez who in an effort to redeem himself (after he tried to murder the whole team earlier due to Roxton abandoning his brother to die on an earlier expedition.) Manages to slay the beast by causing it to become buried under an avalanche, though he himself also dies in the process.

The avalanche Gomez kicks off destroys the entire plateau, but one of the Tyrannosaurs eggs is saved by Challenger who plans to bring it back to London as proof of their adventures. This sadly is arguably the most laughable scene in the whole film as Challenger sits there holding a small gecko with horns on its head claiming that its a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex. One wonders what his colleagues would have thought when he returned home and presented this as his proof of The Lost World.

The sad thing about this film is that originally Willis O’Brien had been hired to do the effects. This movie was for all intents and purposes supposed to be an updated, colourized, talkie version of his 1925 adaptation of The Lost World. Think of how amazing it would have been to have seen the T-Rex/Brontosaurus fight with O’Brien’s Dinosaurs, or the T-Rex fire god as an O’Brien T-Rex rather than a silly lizard with a fin on its back. Sadly Irwin Allen decided to use the Slurpasaur technique as it was cheaper and took less time.

Allen was notorious for never wasting a penny, hence why he often reused shots and costumes and sets all the time. In his iconic series Lost in Space for instance he used the exact same shot for a space ship taking off every single time a space ship was shown to fly away, even if the ship in question looked nothing like the ship taking off from the original footage. He also reused footage from The Lost World itself in many of his subsequent series such as Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

O’Brien whose career was in ruins at this point was apparently very disappointed with Allen’s decision and the finished film overall.

Such a shame really when you think that The Lost World with its fabulous cast and gorgeous sets and beautiful colour could have been O’Brien’s last hurrah, and a fitting epilogue to his career as the 1925 Lost World had been his first feature length film. Sadly however Allen’s limited budget meant that O’Brien’s talents weren’t utilized and the film was compromised overall. It was turned from a potential classic which it would have been with O’Brien’s effects and its stellar cast to really a third rate B-movie with iguana’s with fins stuck to their backs standing in for Dinosaurs.

The Last Dinosaur

Tyrannosaurus appears as the main villain in this Japanese Dinosaur movie which is like an odd mix of Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Moby Dick. The films plot sees a company called Thrust Inc discover a valley of prehistoric creatures in a valley underneath the polar ice caps.

As the team who investigate it are picked off one by one by the relentless Tyrannosaurus, one member of the expedition Maston Thrust played by Western star Richard Boone eventually becomes obsessed with destroying it and gets more of his team members killed in the process.

Though the Tyrannosaurus is referred to as the last Dinosaur, there are in fact several Dinosaurs shown to live in the valley alongside it, including a Triceratops that the Rex kills.

The Tyrannosaurus is brought to life by a man in a suit similar to other classic Japanese monster movies. Overall the film isn’t a classic like Kong or Jurassic Park by any means. The effects are a bit ropey to say the least and the Tyrannosaurus’s size changes frequently throughout the film.

Still its a decent monster mash and if you are a fan of old Japanese Kaiju movies it’s definitely worth a look.

Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen was really Willis O’Brien’s successor. He perfected the stop motion animation process and inspired dozens of film makers over the course of his decades long career. He has had arguably a much greater impact on the industry than many major directors.

Now Harryhausen’s most famous films are arguably those to do with ancient mythology such as Jason and The Argonauts which features the famous skeleton duel, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad which memorably features a giant Cyclops.

Still he did do quite a few memorable Dinosaur films such as The Beast From 20000 Fathoms, One Million Years BC, The Animal World and The Valley of the Gwangi.

Though not as famous as say Jason and the Argonauts many of his Dinosaur films were quite influential and ground breaking. The Beast From 20000 Fathoms in many ways kicked off the atomic monster craze of the 1950’s and set the template for so many movies that came after from The Giant Behemoth to Gorgo to even Godzilla itself. The Animal World meanwhile can be seen as The Walking With Dinosaurs of the 1950’s as it attempted to present Dinosaurs in a more realistic way and show them frolicking in their natural habitat like a wildlife documentary.

Naturally of course Tyrannosaurus Rex being the most famous Dinosaur popped up in a few of Harryhausen’s projects.

Harrhausen’s earliest experiments with Stop Motion involved Dinosaurs. Harryhausen had been fascinated with Dinosaurs since before he even learned about stop motion.

His first ever project was called Evolution and he made it when he was 13 years old. It attempted to tell the story of life on earth making it like a 1930’s version of the Walking with series.

Harryhausen shot several sequences including a Brontosaurus emerging from the ocean, several cavemen frolicking and a fight sequence of between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Triceratops. The T-Rex is also shown to kill a small Hadrosaur too. Though some of these shots are inaccurate by today’s standards, at the same time some of Harryhausen’s work for Evolution is actually ahead of its time.

For instance the Tyrannosaurus sequence portrays the creature as a more active almost fleet footed bird like creature jumping out at the Triceratops and leaping on its back. At that time Dinosaurs by and large were depicted as slow moving, sluggish and obviously more reptilian.

The sequences are very impressive technically, even without taking into consideration the fact that they were made by a teenager!

Sadly the film was never completed. Harryhausen apparently became disheartened when he saw Fantasia as he realized that it had taken Disney with a whole team of animators years to do what he a teenager on his own was trying to do.

Thankfully however Harryhausen still kept the footage which would later be released on DVD. He also would later show the footage to Willis O’Brien when he first met him many years later.

Tyrannosaurus would later go on to appear in The Animal World which was essentially the same idea as Haryhausen’s own Evolution project, though sadly only the Dinosaur footage remains of the finished film.

Both Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien worked on this project. According to Harryhausen he did virtually all of the animation on the film with O’Brien merely helping to build the Dinosaur models.

Sadly T.Rex does not appear for long. The Dinosaur that gets the most attention surprisingly is the little known theropod Ceratosaurus who would also later get a starring role in Harryhausen’s version of One Million Years BC.

Tyrannosaurus only appears in a small sequence where it once again battles a Triceratops before the Dinosaurs are wiped out by an asteroid.

This marks possibly the first time the death of the Dinosaurs was ever depicted on screen in live action.

Tyrannosaurus would go on to appear in Harryhausen’s most famous Dinosaur film The Valley of the Gwangi.

Now Gwangi as it is more commonly known was actually the idea of Willis O’Brien. It involved Cowboys fighting Dinosaurs. Sadly O’Brien was never able to get the project made, though he did near the end of his life produce another Dinosaur western called The Beast From Hollow Mountain which featured an Allosaurus fighting cowboys before dying in a swamp.

Harryhausen wished to film Gwangi as a tribute to O’Brien who had by this point passed on.

Gwangi’s plot sees a group of Cowboys discover a lost valley of Dinosaurs where they encounter a Pteranodon, a Styracosaurus and a large theropod called Gwangi. The Theropod after killing the Styracosaurus as well as several of the cowboys is brought back to civilisation to star in a circus. Ultimately it escapes before going on the rampage throughout the town. Killing an elephant as well as several people before being burned to death in the church.

Now there is some debate over whether or not Gwangi is a Tyrannosaurus or an Allosaurus. O’Brien had intended for him to be an Allosaurus in his version, and on the DVD box he is referred to as an Allosaurus too.

However Harryhausen does say in his biography that he decided to make Gwangi more of a Tyrannosaurus. He also refers to the beast in his synopsis for his version as a Tyrannosaurus, whilst also referring to it as an Allosaurus in the synopsis for O’Brien’s version in his biography.

He also says he based Gwangi’s design on Charles R Knight’s painting of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

So Gwangi is a Tyrannosaurus right?

Well again not exactly. Harryhausen also states in his biography that he decided to make Gwangi a hybrid of Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus which he dubbed a Tyrannosaurus Al “Odd Lizard King”.

Now you might ask what is the difference between a Tyrannosaurus and an Allosaurus? Well there are lots.

Though superficially they may seem very similar, two giant theropods with big heads and small arms, the two actually have very little in common with each other.

Tyrannosaurus was bigger and far stronger. Its jaws where also tremendously powerful too. It had a bite force of over 23 tons. Allosaurus on the other hand had in comparison a minascule bite force. Its bite force was in fact weaker than modern predators such as Lions, Tigers and even Leopards. Tyrannosaurus also had much greater intelligence than Allosaurus too and its senses were far more advanced.

At the same time however Allosaurus was far faster than Tyrannosaurus. It could run at 35 miles per hour. Allosaurus could run faster than an Olympic level athlete, a Lion, Tiger, Rhino and over three times as fast as an Elephant. Tyrannosaurus could only run at 25 miles per hour meanwhile.

Allosaurus was also more agile and lighter on its feet than Tyrannosaurus too and had far larger arms, equipped with three razor sharp claws.

Some experts believe that Allosaurus used its claws to grab hold of its victims. In Walking With Dinosaurs it is shown to leap though the air and latch onto the side of a Diplodocus.

Allosaurus also though having a weak bite still nevertheless had a devastating way of using its jaws against its prey.

It could open its mouth very wide and would swing its head like a hatchet which would allow it cleave massive pieces of flesh from its victims bodies. Its skull was incredibly strong in order to withstand the stresses of doing this.

As you can see T-Rex and Allosaurus whilst effective predators were clearly designed for very different purposes. Tyrannosaurus Rex clearly relies on sheer power to combat heavily armoured Dinosaurs that can fight back such as Triceratops and Anklyosaurus. It was also smarter too as it had to be able to devise strategies to avoid the weaponry of these Dinosaurs.

Allosaurus meanwhile was designed to take on creatures like the giant sauropods who were many times its size. It needed to be fast as the sauropods could easily swat it like a fly. It also needed to be able to leap through the air and rather than have a strong bite it had to be able to tear massive pieces of flesh from its victims bodies.

One thing that they did have in common was that they were both the kings of their world, at the top of the prehistoric food chain.

Gwangi, the Tyrannosaurus Al therefore combines the strengths of both Dinosaurs. He has the physical strength, superior size, massive bite force, greater intelligence and advanced senses of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the superior speed, agility and larger arms of an Allosaurus.

This can be seen in the film when he manages to tackle a Styracosaurus a creature that a strong Tyrannosaurus would have a better chance of taking down. He also manages to break down a massive steel cage which again is something a T-Rex would have a better chance of breaking through. At the same Gwangi is also shown to be fast enough to catch a horse. A Tyrannosaurus would not be fast enough to keep up with a horse.

Gwangi when it was first released was sadly not that big a success though over time it has become seen as a cult classic.

Definitely the highlight is the scene where the cowboys rope Gwangi. I must say though that a rope would never be enough to restrain either an Allosaurus or a Tyrannosaurus but it’s still good fun none the less.

Planet of The Dinosaurs

This 70’s B-Movie features Tyrannosaurus as the main villain.

Its plot sees a group of astronauts marooned on an alien planet that is populated by creatures who are identical to Dinosaurs, with the explanation being that this planet is just at that point in its history.

Tyrannosaurus first shows up part way through the film where it kills an Allosaurus. It later emerges and begins killing the main characters one by one. Its almost like the villain in a slasher movie not only the way it picks people off one by one, but also the way it also seems to collect their bodies as trophies as it takes back every one of its victims, Allosaurus or human being back to its cave.

Though this film was panned when it was first released its stop motion Dinosaur effects supplied by Jim Danforth were rightfully praised and I’d say that the whole movie is worth it because of its impressive Dinosaur sequences.

One notable scene in this film involves the Tyrannosaurus killing a young Rhedosaurus. Now Rhedosaurus is not a real species of Dinosaur. It is in fact a totally fictional species invented for the Ray Harryhausen film The Beast From 20000 Fathoms. Danforth was a close friend of Harryhausens, in fact Harryhausen was a mentor to Danforth in much the same way that O’Brien had been a mentor to Harryhausen himself. This scene was thrown in as a tribute to Harryhausen.

Rumour has it that the model used for the Rhedosaurus was in fact the same one used for The Beast From 20000 Fathoms, but this is contradicted by other sources that state that Harryhausen destroyed the model shortly after use in order to use parts of it for other Dinosaur models in later films.

The Land Before Time

Tyrannosaurus Rex is the main villain in the first (and best in this bloggers opinion) entry in the Land Before Time film series.

The villainous T-Rex is named Sharptooth is evil even by T-Rex standards. He is shown to pursue the main protagonists seemingly for no reason other than just because. Its not like they are even a source of food to him. Together they probably wouldn’t even make one bite for him!

Sharptooth is also responsible for one of the worst tearjerkers in the history of cinema when he kills the main protagonist Littlefoot’s mother.

I’m not going to lie this scene still makes me tear up even today. I defy anyone to watch the scene of Littlefoot thinking his mom is still alive when he sees his shadow huge in the distance and runs towards it, only for it to get smaller and smaller the nearer he gets and not cry. Writing about it now is enough to make me tear up.

Sharptooth’s death is also spectacular too with the main heroes pushing a giant boulder on his head, which sends him plummeting into a lake where he drowns.

Sharptooth has to rank as one of cinema’s greatest villains due to how terrifying he is and the grief he puts the main characters through.

The Land Before Time 2

The T-Rex’s returned as the main villains in The Land Before Time 2. In this film however they were given a more sympathetic role than Sharptooth in the first movie, though to be fair that wouldn’t be difficult.

The films plot revolves around our main characters discovering a Dinosaur egg which turns out to be a cute baby T-Rex named Chomper.

Chomper is probably in all fairness the most adorable Theropod of all time.

Unfortunately his parents who come looking for him are the usual big, bloody, awful, scary kind of Tyrannosaurus’s.

At the end of the movie Chomper decided to leave his friends in order to save them and their families from his parents. Whilst none of The Land Before Time sequels in my opinion where a patch on the first film this is definitely the best of the sequels. I liked the way that it portrayed the Tyrannosaurus’s in a more sympathetic light. It helped this movie stand out from the first one more, rather than just being the same T-Rex the bad guy versus the good guy herbivores. Also I like Chomper and Littlefoot’s friendship too. The final scene where Littlefoot has to say goodbye to Chomper is surprisingly moving.

The Land Before Time 5

Chomper and his mother and father from the previous film returned for this sequel. This time they are presented in an entirely sympathetic role with the true main villain being a Giganotosaurus that is eventually killed by Chompers father near the end.

In real life Giganotosaurus was larger than Tyrannosaurus and was in fact the first meat eating Dinosaur conformed to be larger than T-Rex. This film marked the first time the two behemoths were shown to share the screen together.

Overall this film is not the best entry in The Land Before Time series, but as a T-Rex fan I always enjoy watching T-Rex thrash one of the contenders to the throne at the end of the film.

The Land Before Time 7

Tyrannosaurus returns for a small role in this entry in The Land Before Time series. It is shown first of all in a flashback where we see the Lone Dinosaur defeat the most fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex of all time. Some fans have argued that this is meant to be the T-Rex from the first film, but there is nothing to conform this in the film itself.

Another Tyrannosaurus also appears at the end of the film to menace the main characters briefly, but the main villain of this film is really the much smaller Allosaurus.

Jurassic Park

Possibly Tyrannosaurus’s most famous appearance in cinema history if not popular culture itself. Just about every scene involving the T-Rex in this film is an iconic moment from the water shaking as it approaches, to it devouring the cowardly Lawyer on the toilet, to it chasing the jeep.

By far and away its greatest moment however is its final fight with the Velociraptors at the end of the film. The scene where the Rex tosses the Raptor through some old bones before roaring as the banner “When Dinosaurs Ruled the earth” slowly descends can only be described as a magic moment. Its just such a powerful image, the T-Rex, the mightiest of all Dinosaurs roaring victoriously as it has emerged triumphant over both the humans who attempted to contain it and its dinosaurian rivals.

The funny thing is this scene was a last minute addition. Originally the movies ending was more low key involving the Raptors simply being crushed by falling bones. However during the making of the movie Spielberg felt the T-Rex was the real star of the film and that the audience would be upset if they didn’t get to see it one last time. He changed the ending to give Rexy one last heroic moment.

Spielberg pulls out all of the stops to really make the Rex into something special, yet at the same time I liked the way he also makes it seem like a real animal. We see it chomping down on humans of course like any movie monster but at the same time its not like say the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park 3 that just chases the humans for no reason all over the island. We see the Rex frolicking in its natural habitat, hunting other Dinosaurs.

This more realistic portrayal of Tyrannosaurus would help change how we viewed the beast in popular culture. Prior to this Tyrannosaurus was generally seen in the more upright, tripod stance, but after Jurassic Park it would always be depicted in a more bird like stance.

This movie also I think changed the Dinosaur Tyrannosaurus was most often depicted with from Triceratops to Velociraptor.

Though T-Rex vs Triceratops is still a very popular set up, in most pieces of more recent Dinosaur fiction the classic Dino set up is now one unstoppable T-Rex and several Raptors like Jurassic Park.

The Lost World Jurassic Park

Tyrannosaurus Rex appears as the main dinosaur in this sequel to Jurassic Park.

Here we are introduced to a family of Tyrannosaurs who again much like the T.Rex from the first film are portrayed more as real animals caring for their young than movie monsters.

They still get to cause lots of death and mayhem though such as most notably at the end of the film when the male Tyrannosaurus is brought to the city and destroys a bus, kills a small family (and their dog) and devours some random guy who is simply credited as unlucky bastard.

One again this grand finale with a T-Rex was added at the very last moment. Originally the ending of The Lost World was going to involve Pteranodons attacking our heroes as they attempted to escape Isla Sorna.

Ultimately Spielberg decided once again to give the viewers more of the T-Rex and changed the ending adding the San Diego sequence.

Some have criticized the Rex’s rampage throughout the city, but I liked it. I felt it was quite a nice homage to old monster movies. Spielberg has often cited Godzilla the original as being his favourite Dinosaur movie. There is even a small bit where several Japanese men are running away from the Tyrannosaurus and can be heard muttering “We left Japan to get away from this”.

Jurassic Park 3

The black sheep of the Jurassic Park franchise. Tyrannosaurus Rex is only in one scene where it fights the Spinosaurus.

Now this scene split the JP fandom right down the middle. As anyone with even a passing interest in Dinosaurs knows Tyrannosaurus Rex had the strongest bite of any Dinosaur. It had a bite force of over 23 tons. If it bit down on the Spinosaurus’s neck it would have killed it instantly.

Reconstruction of a T-Rex head for the 2005 BBC Documentary The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs. This T-Rex head nicknamed steely Dan was given a bite force of 4 tons which is still greater than any other large meat eating Dinosaur or any other land animal ever to live on the planet. With a bite force of 4 tons this T-Rex was powerful enough to crush a car with its jaws with minimal effort and due to having a bite force of 4 tons it would have needed to have had a skeleton stronger than reinforced steel. More recent estimates including by Gregory Erickson who worked on the construction of Steely Dan have shown that a real Tyrannosaurus would have had a bite of 23 tons almost 6 times Steely Dan’s bite force. With this in mind imagine the damage a T-Rex could do to a Spinosaurus’s neck, especially considering that Spinosaurus had a relatively slender neck too. And that’s before we get into the fact that Tyrannosaurus had a poison bite and that it could rip off over 500 pounds of flesh in one bite.

The explanation given as to why the Spinosaurus wasn’t decapitated was because the Tyrannosaurus it was fighting wasn’t fully grown. Its a sub adult. This isn’t just some fan theory. The T-Rex in Jurassic Park 3 is smaller than the any of the adults in the first two films. Its only 37 feet long. Rexy the large female T-Rex in the first film is over 40 feet long. Had it been Rexy that was fighting the Spinosaurus it would have killed the Spinosaurus instantly when it bit him.

I suppose T-Rex fans could look on this as being proof of how powerful the T-Rex was that even a sub adult is able to grab a Spinosaurus and toss it around.

Of course the real reason that Tyrannosaurus’s bite didn’t kill the Spinosaurus was because of Jack Horner, the films scientific advisor. Now Horner has famously made it clear that he despises Tyrannosaurus. How one can have a hatred of an animal that has been extinct for 65 million years I have no idea. I think it stems from the fact that Horner studies Hadrosaurs. Hadrosaurs were T-Rex’s favourite prey. Unlike Triceratops and Anklyosaurs who were armoured and thus could put up a fight, the hapless, lowly duckbilled Dinosaurs would have been easy meals for the ravenous T-Rex’s.

Most reconstructions of Hadrosaurs will often involve them getting ripped apart by T-Rex’s.

Naturally Horner a man who LOVES Hadrosaurs isn’t going to be too keen on the T-Rex and decided to take him down a peg or two and replaced him as the main villain for the third Jurassic Park film.

Horner claims that Spinosaurus had a head that was 8 feet long and a body that was 60 feet long on the making of documentary for Jurassic Park 3. Horner is talking complete nonsense. He is right that Spinosaurus was the biggest meat eating Dinosaur ever to have lived on the earth. It was also a vicious and powerful predator in its own right. However he is grossly exaggerating its size and power. It did not have an 8 foot head, nor was its body 60 foot long. He shouldn’t have spread such misinformation as one of the worlds most renowned experts on Dinosaurs people who aren’t dino fans will probably just take everything he is saying as the truth.

Horner did serve as the advisor on the first two films, but he was given complete free reign on the third and even allowed to decide which Dinosaurs would appear. Hence why there was a chase scene involving Hadrosaurs. I very much doubt that was because of public demand. I somehow don’t think that audiences came out of the first two Jurassic Park films thinking “hmm I think they should cut down the T-Rex’s role to nothing and have more of those duck billed Dinosaurs.”

The reason Horner was given such complete control over the third film is because it was directed by Joe Johnston who knew nothing about Dinosaurs and took Horner at his word. Steven Spielberg who directed the first two was a Dinosaur enthusiast himself and  knew not to believe Horner’s biased lies against T-Rex.

To be fair to Horner thought he does seem to have given up on his hatred of the T-Rex as he recently admitted that T-Rex would have a good chance against I-Rex. He is one of the greatest Paleontologists of all time remember, its just the whole T-Rex thing that seems to be his blind spot.

Having said that though I don’t know why Spielberg who loves the T-Rex so much hired Horner in the first place? Why didn’t he hire Phil Currie or Bob Bakker who both love T-Rex as much as he does?

Whatever the case whilst Jurassic Park 3 was the least successful of the Jurassic Park movies among both fans and the general public, though the T-Rex/Spinosaurus feud entered into popular culture and there have been several reconstructions of the fight over the years. The T-Rex always kills the Spinosaurus in them.

Jurassic World

Tyrannosaurus Rex returned for a heroic role in Jurassic World. Rumour has it that Spielberg insisted on this to make up for the negative fan reaction to the Rex’s small role in Jurassic Park 3. There is one scene certainly that was intended as a take that to Jurassic Park 3 when the T-Rex smashes its way through a Spinosaurus skeleton on its way to battle the films main villain the I-Rex.

The Tyrannosaurus from this film is meant to be the same one from the first film “Rexy” hence why it is shown have scars down its throat from its battle with the Raptors.

I very much liked the Rex’s appearance in this film. It did make up a little bit for the third movie. T-Rex and I-Rex’s fight is brilliant and seeing the Rex play a heroic role is a wonderful little call back to the ending of the first movie.

My favourite shot is at the end of the movie when the T-Rex after having killed the I-Rex roars out in triumph. Once again having triumphed over its Dinosaurian and human enemies, its yet another wonderful little callback to the first film.

It was also great seeing the Rex restored to its rightful position as the logo of the franchise.

Carnosaur Film Series

Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared in all of the entries in this Dinosaur film series that was released at round about the same time as Jurassic Park.

Carnosaur dealt with a similar premise to Jurassic Park of Dinosaurs being brought back to life through cloning. It was based on a novel of the same name by John Brosnan.

The films plot differs to the novel in some ways. It sees a mad scientist create a virus that causes women to give birth to Dinosaurs including several Deinonychus and a T-Rex.

The T-Rex is naturally the main villain of the piece and gets a climactic showdown with the main hero who uses a skid steer loader to battle it.

Now this movie is obviously not high class entertainment, but its still good for a few laughs. Sadly it has along with its sequels been discontinued on DVD for now, so its virtually impossible to get a hold of.

Tyrannosaurus returned in all of its sequels Carnosaur 2, Carnosaur 3 Primal Species and two unoffical sequels Raptor and The Eden Formula where it is the only Dinosaur that appears.

The Lost World 1998

This overlooked version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book is I feel the best adaptation after the original 1925 version.

It makes many huge deviations from the novel, but I think that works in its favour as unlike other versions a lot of the twists like Roxton being the villain and the deaths like Summerlee and Djena, Edward Malone’s main love interest are quite shocking and unexpected the first time round.

Tyrannosaurus is the main Dinosaur of the film that murders both Djena and Sumerlee.

Sumerlee’s death is a lot more gory than you’d expect. Normally being killed by a T-Rex is the preferred way of being killed by a Dinosaur if you’re a human in films. Just one bite and its over, but poor old Sumerlee gets ripped limb from limb and tossed about by the Rex, and his mutilated body is later found by his team mates.

Overall this is an excellent appearance by T-Rex. You really get the impression that he is the king of the Lost World. Nothing stands up to him, not the vicious, psychopathic natives, not the Raptors, they all flee the second he shows up.

Overall this is a great film and definitely one of the better depictions of the Tyrant Lizard King in popular culture.

King Kong (2005)

I wasn’t sure about whether to include this as technically its not a T-Rex that battles Kong in this version. It is in fact a Vastatosaurus Rex “Ravager King Lizard” which is meant to be the direct descendant of Tyrannosaurus Rex. It makes sense in a way as when you think about it if Dinosaurs were still alive somewhere in the world today, then they would have continued to evolve.

Still I have decided to list this here anyway.

Here Kong battles three V-Rex’s. According to spin off material the V-Rex’s are meant to have wiped out Kong’s entire species except for Kong who is now the last of is kind. This helps to explain Kongs intense hatred of them. Think about it would he really fight three of them at once and risk Ann’s life rather than just get out of there if he didn’t really hate them? Jackson has stated that he believes Kong’s own family were killed by the V-Rex’s.

The Kong V-Rex fight is definitely one of the best kaiju battles in the history of cinema. I am not sure whether or not its better than the original. Obviously from a technical point of view its better, but I think its perhaps a bit too elaborate at times. I think this is a problem with a lot of the Dinosaur sequences in Jackson’s remake. They are enjoyable,  but it feels like Jackson tries too hard to make them more over the top like he has to have everyone get caught up between the Brontosaurus’s, buried under them, he has to have Kong and the V-Rex’s and Kong all get caught up in vines etc.

Sometimes less is more. A Brontosaurus chasing a guy up a tree and a T-Rex fighting Kong in a forest are enough.

We’re Back A Dinosaurs Story

This animated movie which is based on the Hudson Talbott’s children book of the same name,  features a Tyrannosaurus voiced by John Goodman as the main protagonist. The T-Rex named simply Rex is experimented on by aliens and gains human intelligence alongside several other Dinosaurs as well as Pterodactly named Elsa voiced by Felicty Kendall who eventually falls in love with Rex.

I always loved this film so much growing up and its still a favourite of mine even today. It’s refreshing to see a heroic T-Rex and the film has a wonderfully surreal story involving the Dinosaurs battling an evil Circus man. I always got creeped out at the end when after he is defeated he is eaten alive by his own crows.

Not T-Rex’s most ferocious appearance in popular culture of course, but still a fun movie nonetheless.

Tammy and the T-Rex

By far and away the low point of T-Rex’s career on the big screen. This dreadful film sees a woman implant her boyfriend’s brain in the body of a gigantic robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Seriously! Granted its meant to be a comedy, but still I’d rank this as probably T-Rex’s worst film appearance. I suppose all big stars have that one film they are ashamed of, that they only did for the money.

Ice Age 3 Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Tyrannosaurus Rex appears in this film. It also makes a fleeting cameo in the original Ice Age frozen in ice.

Originally the large female T-Rex named Momma is set up to be the main villain of the film, but gradually we see that it is more of a loving mother and the true main villain is Rudy, a gigantic Baryonx.

Baryonx was a medium sized fish eating Dinosaur, but in this film it is depicted as being the largest meat eating Dinosaur of all time. This was at the behest of the films producer who felt Baryonx looked scarier than the T-Rex.

However despite this at the end the T-Rex is still shown to be superior when it thrashes Rudy and pushes him over the edge of a cliff, saving the main characters in the process. It’s always a crowning moment of awesome watching the king of the Dinosaurs thrash some new punk who thinks that he can take his place.

Blackadder Back And Forth

Tyrannosaurus appears briefly in this film adaptation of the classic BBC comedy. It appears when Blackadder and Baldrick travel back to the age of the Dinosaurs. It attacks them through the door of their time machine before being killed by Baldricks dirty underwear which also apparently causes the extinction of the Dinosaurs too.

Go to 6 minutes 56 seconds for the T-Rex or just watch the whole film, it’s hilarious.

Night At The Museum 

Tyrannosaurus appears in this classic comedy about exhibits in a museum that are brought to life at night by magic. In quite a nice twist the T-Rex (which is a living skeleton!) is shown to be very affectionate towards the main character and really becomes his pet. It also helps save the day at the end of the first film too. Though it appears in both of the sequels, sadly its role is more limited.

T-Rex Back to the Cretaceous 

This somewhat odd educational film sees a teenage girl named Ally travel backwards in time to the age of the Dinosaurs where she helps protect a group of T-Rex eggs for all the good it does as the Dinosaurs are wiped out soon after.

This movie also explores the discovery of Tyrannosaurus Rex too.

Overall its a pretty decent film that helps to show a new side to Tyrannosaurus Rex by depicting it as caring for its young. It manages to both be very educational and a fun romp at the same time.

The Land of The Lost

A Tyrannosaurus named Grumpy appears in this 2009 adaptation of the classic 70’s television series of the same name. The T-Rex originally just tries to hunt the main characters, but soon gives up when they manage to escape. Ultimately things become personal when Will Ferrell’s character Dr Rick Marshall insults it by inferring that its brain was the size of a walnut. It spends the rest of the movie trying to kill him as a result. At the end of the movie however it becomes Rick’s friend and even helps to defeat the actual main villains of the film, the Sleestaks.

This film was panned by the critics and a box office failure. Personally I don’t know why. I thoroughly enjoyed it overall, but the highlight for me is definitely Grumpy’s confrontation with Rick where Rick bravely stands his ground and charges against Grumpy only to get swallowed whole in about 2 seconds.

Next up a look  at T-Rex’s career on television.