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Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

on June 08, 2015, 1:15pm
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Welcome to Jurassic Week! In anticipation of Jurassic World, Consequence of Sound will publish a related feature each day leading up to the blockbuster sequel’s Friday release. Today, we start with our official ranking of every dinosaur to have ever appeared in the Jurassic Park series, from the mighty T-Rex all the way down to the irascible compys.

jp week logo“Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s the running and, um, the screaming,” Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) warns early on in 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It’s a quasi-meta moment, considering that the audience is just as aware of the dangers ahead as the snarky chaos scientist. However, one can’t also help but stand in awe at the cloned creatures walking amiably in the forest. After all, that’s what makes the Jurassic Park series so damn lucrative: the dinosaurs.

Boy, there have been plenty over the years! Thanks to those tireless amber miners and InGen’s top scientists — ahem, the late Stan Winston — we’ve been able to enjoy a plethora of prehistoric wonder on the big screen. Think back to the time you first saw the peaceful Brachiosaurus munching on leaves, or when you cowered in your seat as the Velociraptors prowled for chow in the Visitor’s Center. These are popcorn classic moments and there’s simply no disputing that these are the real stars.

This Friday, InGen’s dino glossary will expand with Jurassic World. Already, we’ve seen glimpses of the aquatic Mosasaurus, the genetically mutated Indominus Rex, among many others. Those won’t be ranked in the pages ahead, however, simply because we’ve yet to see them fully in action. Instead, we focused on the dinosaurs that appeared in Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Jurassic Park III — an eight-year voyage from Isla Nublar to Isla Sorna. Agree, disagree, up to you.

Just remember to hold onto your butts and say the magic word. No promises!

–Michael Roffman
Editor-in-Chief

Ceratosaurus

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Despite a distinctive horn on its snout, the Ceratosaurus is more or less a smaller, poor man’s version of the T-Rex. Just look at its brief appearance in Jurassic Park III. It stumbles across Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and the Kirbys while they’re inspecting a heap of Spinosaurus dung, only to get dispatched by the Spinosaurus itself. It doesn’t even get the chance to try and attack anyone. In the end, the Ceratosaurus becomes nothing more than another mound of Spinosaurus shit to sift through—fodder for a bigger, badder dinosaur. –Dan Caffrey

Corythosaurus

Corythosaurus

No disrespect to the Corythosaurus, that noble helmet-headed hadrosaur, whose name actually does mean “Helmet Lizard,” but the dinosaur just doesn’t have the same presence in the Jurassic Park universe as some of our other favorites. In The Lost World, they’re only mentioned aloud and mistaken for a Parasaurolophus, and in the third installment, they’re merely in the background as a herd during the raptor chase. Perhaps a fourth installment will give this honking herbivore the chance to have its day in the park. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Mamenchisaurus

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Scientifically, the Mamenchisaurus is pretty cool because it has the longest neck of any dinosaur. Aesthetically though, this very fact makes the sauropod rather goofy looking, as if it were a lopsided kids’ drawing of an Apatosaurus. Apparently there was supposed to be a scene in The Lost World where Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) witnesses two of the behemoths mating. Can you imagine that? I’m not sure what Mamenchisaurus sex looks like, but I’m guessing it involves the creatures twisting their necks around each other and tongue-kissing. The scene was scrapped, and all we got was a poacher riding between one of the beast’s legs on a dirt bike, which still gives us a prime view of some dino junk. –Dan Caffrey

Parasaurolophuses

para Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

You have to feel a little pity for the Parasaurolophus. They’re forced to show up for their big screen moment, unceremoniously, cruelly, in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, as part of a zippy montage where dinosaurs are getting rounded up to be brought to a zoo in San Diego. The hind-legged dinos get snared and taken down as part of Spielberg’s growing desire to combine tricky camera moves with well-placed kinetic computer imagery. And the beasts are herbivores, so you know they’re not going to fight back. So they’re subdued easily. Bummer. All presumably because they have these cool backward cowlicks. –Blake Goble

Gallimimus

GallimimusGallop

“A Galli… A Galli… A Gallimimus!” It’s a good thing Tim Murphy (Joseph Mazello) was able to finally pronounce these omnivores. Otherwise, how else would we have known about these fabulous flock of beasts? The scene in question is one of the first film’s best, as it provides a delightful opportunity to see the dinosaurs in a more natural setting. They grave, they flock, and they run. And when the Tyrannosaurus rex lunges out of the nearby trees, attacking one who makes a deadly tumble, we’re just as mesmerized as our knowledgeable junior cadet and his trusty paleontologist/temporary guardian. “Look at the wheeling; the uniform direction change! Like a flock of birds evading a predator!” No time for science, Dr. Grant! –Michael Roffman

Ankylosaurus

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With its bony armor and clubbed tail, the Anklyosaurus is easily the coolest herbivore out there. Sadly, Jurassic Park III didn’t make much of the dinosaur’s appearance, relegating it to a brief cameo where a herd of them idly strolls by the protagonists. But if the trailer for Jurassic World is any indication, the Anklyosaurus will have a lot more to do in this next installment. As some kids try to escape the Indonimus Rex in a gyrosphere, they get sandwiched by two of the fleeing beasts, meaning we finally get to see that mace-like tail in action. –Dan Caffrey

Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus

As the largest known carnivorous dinosaur, you’d think that the Spinosaurus would have been a little more terrifying. Then again, that was a tall order for the abysmal Jurassic Park III. Still, it didn’t help that the writers drummed up the idea to have the nefarious beast swallow a satellite phone, which, of course, alerts Dr. Grant and his team of idiots every step of the action. All stupidity aside, the Spinosaurus has its moments, from taking down one angry Tyrannosaurus rex to stalking a river boat while appearing to look like an over-sized crocodile. Originally, the Baryonyx was to be the star dinosaur of the second sequel, but was eventually deemed too small. Perhaps we’ll find both in Jurassic World? –Michael Roffman

Pachycephalosaurus

pachy Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

Pachycephalosaurus” is hard to pronounce, as exhibited by the late Pete Postlethwaite’s dino poacher, Roland Tembo, in The Lost World. After struggling with the pronunciation, he settles on “Fat head with bald spot. Friar Tuck.” “That head-butting dinosaur” would have been more accurate, which he soon discovers after one of the Pachycephalosauri plows its bony chrome-dome into a vehicle like a battering ram. It’s the film’s first instance of an animal getting a leg up on one of the film’s most annoying plot devices. – Dan Caffrey

Stegosaurus

stegosaurus Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

The Stegosaurus had the responsibility of being The Lost World’s grand reveal dinosaur, like the first film’s Brachiosaurus. The large, low creatures emerge in the forest in between beams of light, as the awe-struck Jeff Goldblum, Vince Vaughn, and Toby from The West Wing look on before Goldblum ruins the moment by warning everyone that dinosaurs are killers and makers of pandemonium. Jeez, relax Ian Malcolm, the Stegos were herbivorers, and their gnarly spikes made them look like peaceful kings. Malcolm, you’ve been around the T-Rex and space aliens and Will Smith too long, these creatures are real beauties. – Blake Goble

Compsognathus

Compsognathus

Compsognathus, better known as “compys”, are the little bastards that terrorize a young Camilla Belle at the beginning of The Lost World. Much like the Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park, compys appear cute and harmless at first glance, but that’s only so they can poison larger enemies in order to effectively kill and eat them. Their attack on Dieter Stark (Peter Stormare) in The Lost World resembles Hammond’s death in the Jurassic Park novel, which was probably cut because Filmmaking 101 dictates that people don’t like seeing Sir Richard Attenborough get eaten alive. Rest in peace, good sir. —Justin Gerber

Pteranodon

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The Pteranodon you may know from Jurassic Park isn’t exactly the one that once soared over this planet; they ate fish and any unfortunate maritime animals and didn’t have the menacing teeth seen onscreen. You probably remember them best for the moment in Jurassic Park III in which a mother Pteranodon kidnaps young Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan) and attempts to feed him to its young, only to be foiled by a parasail, a device as much a motif of the later Jurassic Park films as dinosaurs. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Triceratops

triceratops jurassic park Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

There was nothing frightening about the Triceratops in either Jurassic Park or The Lost World. In the latter, they’re used for comic effect as they rampage through the hunters’ campground, using their horns to slash up tents and what not. The reason we’ve ranked the Triceratops so high, however, is because it marks the first time we see humans interacting with a dinosaur in the series. Using animatronics instead of CGI make it more personal (every time), and Goldblum’s line read of “That is one big pile of shit” is priceless. –Justin Gerber

Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus

Ah, the Brachiosaurus. With its long, towering neck and enormous height, it’s the first dinosaur to ever appear on screen in the entire franchise. This gentle giant arguably changed our entire movie going world as it roamed freely, harmless to our main characters as a “veggiesaurus.” When John Williams’ iconic score swells and the dino stomps down onto the ground in an elegant stride … only then does the film truly begin. And there’s really nothing like seeing it grace the screen for the first time. Sure, the most violent this herbivore gets is when it sneezes all over Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards), but that hardly made it any less cool. –Rebecca Bulnes

Tyrannosaurus Rex

t rex jurassic park Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

The Tyrannosaurus rex isn’t the biggest carnivore in the Jurassic Park universe—that honor goes to the Spinosaurus and, soon enough, the genetically engineered Indominus Rex—but it’s certainly the baddest. Its reveal in Jurassic Park remains the franchise’s most memorable scene, it essentially saves the day at the end of the film, and it even managed to stay scary during its preposterous rampage through San Diego in The Lost World. Best of all, director Colin Trevorrow has promised that the T-Rex in Jurassic World is the same one we met back in 1993. Unlike some of the other dinosaurs, she’s stayed alive and stayed badass not by evolving, but by remaining exactly who she is. –Dan Caffrey

Velociraptor

jurassic park velociraptor Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

The Tyrannosaur rex may have received top billing, but no dinosaur in the Jurassic Park series has been more consistently terrifying than the Velociraptor. You see, besides his tiny, ineffectual arms, the T. Rex has a pretty severe achilles heel: he can’t see you when you’re not moving. The raptor’s heel, meanwhile, is a dagger. These clever girls hunt in packs, open doors, and turn a chain-smoking Sam Jackson into a bloody stump—hell, they even grow feathery mohawks and learn how to talk in Jurassic Park III. They’ve been terrorizing humans since the first minute of the first film (Shoot her!), and the scene in which they stalk the kids in the kitchen is unleaded nightmare fuel. Chris Pratt thinks he can train them? Good luck with that. –Collin Brennan

Dilophosaurus

dilophosaurus gif Ranking: The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park From Worst to Best

Poor Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight). If only he had driven a few miles slower, none of this would have happened. Instead, he had to drive like a Raving Newman and crash right into the most terrifying zoological exhibit known to man: the Dilophosaurus. Now, the actual dinosaur probably didn’t have the venom glands or the pop-up colorful frill, but that’s what makes this inclusion so intriguing. Spielberg, Crichton, and SFX wizard Stan Winston took some creative liberties and surprised audiences worldwide with their wild imaginations. And the set it up is vintage cautionary horror, provided by Richard Kiley, no less. #sparenoexpense

“One of the earliest carnivores, we now know Dilophosaurus is actually poisonous, spitting its venom at its prey, causing blindness and eventually paralysis, allowing the carnivore to eat at its leisure. This makes Dilophosaurus a beautiful, but deadly addition to Jurassic Park.”

Of course, you don’t see it then. That’s the beauty of it. But like the raptors, you remember. So, when a pathetic Nedry tumbles down into that paddock and you hear that cheery coo, you know there’s something wicked on the way. But then, Spielberg does one better by making the creature initially cute, letting it bounce around and look up to its new friend like some lonely mutt, a feeling that’s only amplified by Nedry’s blatant patronizing (“stick stupid, fetch the stick”). Then, you know, the demon emerges, everyone screams, and popcorn’s in the air. It’s like a gremlin, as Collin Brennan suggested in our discussions.

Similar to those pesky fur balls, the Dilophosaurus was never once given the CGI treatment. Nope. Winston, instead, employed animatronics, which is likely why the creepy dinosaur looks so damn real as it putzes around and follows Nedry. Yet what also helps is the fact that the Dilophosaurus never appears again in all of Jurassic Park or any of its sequels, save for the video games and comics. Because of this, the scene remains iconic, unrivaled, and resolute — unlike, say, the raptors, who were once terrifying and are now Chris Pratt’s buddies. That would never happen with this feisty spitter.

Never.

–Michael Roffman

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