To Purchase NEWTON'S APPLE videos and other science stuff,
Begin the lesson by asking these questions: Have you seen the movies Jurassic Park or Lost World? How real did the dinosaurs appear to you? What makes them seem real? Have you ever seen model creatures that didn't seem real? What was the difference? What were the moments in the movies that were most striking? Why?
How would you like to come face to face with a T. Rex or Ultrasaurus?
Of course, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park aren't real. Despite Jurassic
Park's science fiction about recreating dinosaurs through modern science,
we are still left to imagine how dinosaurs really looked, sounded, and
felt. So how did they build Jurassic Park: The Ride? How did they get the
dinosaurs to move so realistically? How did they make an environment that
replicates the one scientists believe the dinosaurs lived in? How do paleontologists
know what environment would be the most realistic?
The Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood was in development even before the first frame of film was shot for the first movie, Jurassic Park. The creators spared no expense to make the park as lifelike and realistic as possible, right down to the scripted "disaster" that happens in the middle of the ride. The designers of the ride (who came from every area of the science and technology community) based the ride's environment on the most current knowledge about what the dinosaurs looked like and how they behaved.
For example, chemists made materials for the dinosaurs' skin that accurately
duplicates skin imprints found with fossils. Botanists selected over 100
species of plants to be viewed from the ride. They based their choices
in part on fossilized plants found in Wyoming. An attempt was made to accurately
depict dinosaur behavior, too. Scientists now think that dinosaurs were
at least somewhat warm-blooded, that some of them (like the Velociraptor)
hunted in groups, and that some tended their hatchlings the way birds do
today. Evidence for these ideas comes from a large fossil deposit in Montana,
in which dinosaur eggs and babies were found in nestlike formations, and
a group of Velociraptors was found entangled with the fossil of an enormous
Scientists extrapolated dinosaur movements and posture by studying the
size and shape of bones and connective tissue, and by observing the layout
of fossils that had apparently died in action (running or fighting). Robotics
experts at a defense contractor then modeled these movements with an advanced
hydraulic technology first developed for the space program.
The hydraulics were particularly important because most of the moving
models of living creatures (animatronics) up until then had been rather
jerky. This new hydraulic system, however, used a fluid under pressure
to allow very smooth and detailed movement called compliant reactivity.
Combined with computerized instructions for even the smallest movement
detail, such as shifting the shoulder slightly when moving an arm or moving
the tail for balance when shifting weight from foot to foot, this compliant
reactivity is startlingly realistic.
1. Why is realism so important to people in a ride like the Jurassic Park ride?
2. How do you think the ride designers are going to top themselves? How could the next ride be even better?
DINO-MITE: HOW DID THEY DO THAT?
LOST WORLD DINOSAURS: Student Activity
Determine how accurate the dinosaur-makers were in creating realistic dinos?
The best models show that close attention was paid to small details.
See if you can notice these details and suggest materials for models.
2. Watch the video clip a couple of times, stopping it to study individual movements and materials. Can you identify any clay animation, models, humans in costumes, or computer-generated elements? Is there anything that isn't completely realistic?
3. Compare the video to the reconstruction of dinosaur fossils. Can you find mistakes or inaccuracies in your video clip?
4. Take a simple natural object such as a rock or a single flower, and think about how you would design a model for it. What materials would you use? What details would be particularly important to reproduce? If you wanted to design a model for a small animal such as a frog or fish, what additional details would you need? Why are moving models more difficult to make?
1. What areas of study are necessary to get a job modeling animals and natural elements for the movies or for museums?
2. A science has recently been created that involves creating faces on human (or human ancestor) skulls. What do scientists have to consider when reconstructing a face on a skull?
Books and Articles
Allman, W.F. (1993, June
Horner, J. & Dobb,
Thro, E. (1993)
The Everything Dinosaur Catalogue
Write a story line for an amusement park ride. What kind of action would you have? How would you draw the audience into your story?
An online Jurassic Park game is available on the Internet at the address below. Try this game out. What do you think of it? How would you improve it? jurassic.unicity.com
Raise your arm or leg and notice what other parts of your body shift or move also. Is this movement consistent? Can you move a limb without moving any other part of your body?