Everyone loves dinosaurs—especially in movies.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens today in theaters, bringing dinosaurs back to the silver screen. Three years after Indominus rex wreaked havoc on Jurassic World, the park sits abandoned and dinosaurs live wild on the island. When the island’s dormant volcano begins to blow, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) lead a team to rescue as many dinosaurs as they can. The film promises lots of dinosaurs, but also—predictably—evolution. Let’s review a few major dinosaur misconceptions that this movie franchise promotes.
Like the first Jurassic World movie, Fallen Kingdom plays with the idea that dinosaurs can be genetically modified—or even built from scratch. Dr. Henry Wu (who appeared in the original Jurassic Park) mixes the DNA of Indominus rex and Velociraptor. The result is Indoraptor, a vicious theropod that Chris Pratt describes as a “psychopathic murderous beast.”1
Is it possible to create a new creature from pre-existing DNA? Not in the way the movie portrays. Most of the vegetables sold in grocery stores are genetically-modified organisms (GMO). Crops are modified with pesticide-resistant genes so farmers can spray pesticides and kill harmful insects without worrying about their crops. In these cases, scientists insert just one or a few genes into a plant.
However, the Jurassic World movies take the technology a few huge leaps forward. The original Jurassic Park imagined that ancient mosquitos sucked blood from dinosaurs, those mosquitos were trapped in amber, and then scientists extracted the blood from the mosquitos to get dinosaur DNA. Secular scientists have found possible traces of dinosaur DNA in fossils,2 but don’t get too excited. The DNA is very scanty, disintegrated from long years of being underground.3 Huge sections of DNA-encoded information would need to be written to restore dinosaur DNA sequences, and scientists have no clue what it’s supposed to be. The human genome has over 200 genes involved in regulating human height alone, and each gene is hundreds, perhaps thousands, of “letters” long. It is not possible to correctly construct an entire T. rex genome.4 In fact, evolutionary scientists who want to create real dinosaurs have given up on this option. Instead, they are trying to genetically-modify a chicken into a Velociraptor-like dinosaur.5 No joke. So far they have only succeeded in making mutant chickens.6
On the subject of genetics, one of the characters in Fallen Kingdom is a human clone. Scientists have reported cloning animals, but so far not humans (thank goodness). Human cloning involves moral violations. The Bible teaches that human life begins at conception.7 But cloning involves ending a human life after conception. To clone a human, scientists would try to impregnate a woman with a genetically modified embryo. One might succeed after possibly hundreds of attempts, which would mean hundreds of dead embryos. Human cloning might become possible, but it would not be moral.8
The 2015 Jurassic World mentioned short-lived organics, such as proteins, in dinosaur fossils. This part is true. Many real discoveries have confused the paleontological world because they strongly challenge the belief that these creatures died 65 or more million years ago. We’re not sure if Fallen Kingdom will include the issue (we are writing this before the movie opens). But if it does, it will be good for moviegoers to ask questions like, “Can organic matter last millions of years?”
The movie, of course, pushes the idea that dinosaurs existed long before humans. In a trailer, Jeff Goldblum’s character says, “These creatures were here before us. And if we’re not careful, they’re going to be here after.”9 The line is not accurate—but still sounds good in a movie.
One of the reasons the line isn’t accurate is that, according to secular reports, DNA can only survive for around 100,000 years at a reasonable temperature before it completely disintegrates.10 Proteins can last a little longer, but not as long as million years. The evidence of such biomolecules inside fossils suggests that dinosaur fossils are relatively young. This fits well with the biblical understanding that dinosaurs were buried in the Flood of Noah’s day around 4500 years ago, but contradicts the idea that the fossils are millions of years old—and contradicts Goldblum’s line.
Secular researchers try to explain the existence of protein in dinosaur fossils by arguing that iron preserves it intact for millions of years. This argument found its way into the first Jurassic World movie. Owen Grady says,
One problem with this argument is that the lab conditions researchers used to draw their conclusions did not accurately represent natural environments. The researchers used purified and concentrated blood—a product found nowhere in nature.12 Plus, the very iron atoms that might help preserve proteins overwhelmingly more often cause chemical damage to those same proteins. And anyway, enough iron isn’t present in dinosaur fossils. So, the iron preservation explanation is bad science.
Another widespread misconception baked into the franchise is that dinosaurs evolved into birds. Or, to put it in typically confusing evolutionary terms, non-avian dinosaurs (regular dinos) evolved into avian dinosaurs (birds). Two key problems refute this belief.
First, evolutionists say that theropods (dinosaurs with two legs like T. rex) evolved into birds. But theropods have saurischian hips—lizard-like. Other dinosaurs have ornithischian hips—bird-like. Dinosaurs with bird-like hips include Triceratops and Brachiosaurus. Wouldn’t it make more sense for dinosaurs with bird-like hips to evolve into birds?
Second, some secular reports say birds can be found all the way down in the Triassic.13 This is the first geologic layer in which dinosaurs appear. If geologic layers show evolution from low to high, and dinosaurs evolved into birds, then shouldn’t birds appear in geologic layers above dinosaurs?
The answer is yes—yes, they should. But they don’t.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will have plenty of dinosaurs, and probably be pretty entertaining. To make the dinosaurs feel more real and generate more genuine performances from the actors, the filmmakers used a number of advanced animatronics. If you like the movie, great. But, as always, learn to recognize secular ideas and think critically about what you watch.
1. FilmSelect Trailer. Jurassic World 2: All Clips + Trailers. Posted on youtube.com May 23, 2018, accessed June 21, 2018.
2. Thomas, B. DNA in Dinosaur Bones? Acts & Facts. 42 (1): 15.
4. Thomas, B. Could We Clone a Dinosaur? Acts & Facts. 42 (8): 20.
5. Weiss, G. Scientists Say They Can Recreate Living Dinosaurs Within the Next 5 Years. Entrepreneur. Posted on entrepreneur.com June 16, 2015. For ICR’s take on the issue, see Tomkins, J. and B. Thomas. Can We Really Reverse-Engineer a Dinosaur? Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org May 19, 2009.
6. Bhullar, B-A. et al. A molecular mechanism for the origin of a key evolutionary innovation, the bird beak and palate, revealed by an integrative approach to major transitions in vertebrate history. Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution. 69 (7): 1665-1677.
7. “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb…” (Luke 1:41). “In sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).
8. Jeanson, N. 2012. “Processes and Implications of Stem Cell Research” in The Design and Complexity of the Cell. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research.
9. Universal Pictures. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Final Trailer [HD]. Posted on youtube.com April 18, 2018.
10. Allentoft, M. et al. The half-life of DNA in bone: measuring decay kinetics in 158 dated fossils. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Published online October 10, 2012.
11. Springfield! Springfield! Jurassic World (2015) Movie Script.
12. Anderson, K. Dinosaur Tissue: A Biochemical Challenge to the Evolutionary Timescale. Answers in Genesis. Posted on answersingenesis.org October 20, 2016.
13. Chatterjee, S. Cranial anatomy and relationships of a new Triassic bird from Texas. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B332:277-346, 1991.