Rethinking Dinosaurs

Rethinking Dinosaurs

Games have been getting dinosaurs wrong pretty much forever.

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Much in the same way that you don't find fur on large mammals ( elephants, rhinos etc), you would not find a thick coat of feathers on larger dinosaurs. The insulation would cause the animal to overheat much too easily. Thus feathers (or at least thick coats) were likely only found on the smaller dinosaurs.

Fun fact about dinosaurs I learned my biology professor: some were so big that it took a long time for signals to reach the brain so some dinosaurs had slow reaction when attacked in a place like the tail. To compensate for this, large dinosaurs like the T-rex had a nerve cluster in their abdomen that acted like a second brain to receive signals faster. So the T-rex and others had second brain in their ass area

coheedswicked:
Much in the same way that you don't find fur on large mammals ( elephants, rhinos etc), you would not find a thick coat of feathers on larger dinosaurs. The insulation would cause the animal to overheat much too easily. Thus feathers (or at least thick coats) were likely only found on the smaller dinosaurs.

There were both woolly mammoth and woolly rhinocerous, mind.

For that matter, there were 3m tall half ton kangaroos and predatory birds that lived in Australia until shortly after humans arrived. Now, maybe not "large" by dinosaur standards, but still pretty big.

coheedswicked:
Much in the same way that you don't find fur on large mammals ( elephants, rhinos etc), you would not find a thick coat of feathers on larger dinosaurs. The insulation would cause the animal to overheat much too easily. Thus feathers (or at least thick coats) were likely only found on the smaller dinosaurs.

While this was the prevailing theory as of early 2012, apparently some recent discoveries in China have called it into question. As I understand it, the question now is to what extent tyrannosaurids had feathers rather than if they had them at all (i.e. were the feathers all over their bodies? Did they lose the feathers as the grew? What?) I'd encourage you to click the link on that info, it's pretty interesting.

thaluikhain:

coheedswicked:
Much in the same way that you don't find fur on large mammals ( elephants, rhinos etc), you would not find a thick coat of feathers on larger dinosaurs. The insulation would cause the animal to overheat much too easily. Thus feathers (or at least thick coats) were likely only found on the smaller dinosaurs.

There were both woolly mammoth and woolly rhinocerous, mind.

For that matter, there were 3m tall half ton kangaroos and predatory birds that lived in Australia until shortly after humans arrived. Now, maybe not "large" by dinosaur standards, but still pretty big.

In addition, if I'm to believe cracked.com they already proved that most of them probably had feathers

http://www.cracked.com/article_18627_6-things-from-history-everyone-pictures-incorrectly_p2.html

T-rex also probably had feathers too, but they mention it might have only been the ones that lived in cold climates

http://www.cracked.com/article_19001_17-images-that-will-ruin-your-childhood_p2.html

This is just another example of Obama's America ruining my childhood. If Mitt Romney would have won, he would have yanked funding from childhood ruining dinosaur research and instead paid more to the global arms race or whatever. But no, we have this dinosaur hating president who not only made research possible to say we can never clone dinosaurs, but worse off that dinosaurs had fluffy cuddly feathers. Damn you Obama.

Honestly because of Jurassic Park showing off dinosaurs eating people, it really fascinated me to learn about these creatures and how they lived. And I've learned a lot about dinosaurs too. Hell I noticed some bird like behavior in Jurassic Park's Velociraptor too.

But that was years ago. I still love dinosaurs to this day and I know they're all hunting for prey and all that. I did ultimately did get terrified by Dino Crisis and even then I still love them. I wish dinosaurs would team up with humans more like in D-Day for sure.

Shame they won't last long in our environment. :/

Demon Slayer X:
Honestly because of Jurassic Park showing off dinosaurs eating people, it really fascinated me to learn about these creatures and how they lived. And I've learned a lot about dinosaurs too. Hell I noticed some bird like behavior in Jurassic Park's Velociraptor too.

Same.
And it really didn't take long for me to adjust to the idea of the raptors having feathers. And it got even more awesome when I read about how they used them. XKCD did a comic on it, actually: the raptors would hop on top of their pray, using their wings to keep balance while they hooked their claws into their next meal and pulled it apart. That's fucking awesome.

Although, a couple of friends of mine reacted so violently against it that they one of them actually went so far as to say how scientists get things wrong all the time, so they're probably wrong about this.
*sigh* Some people just have no respect for the hard work that goes into studying extinct species.

Yeah, dinosaurs treated exclusively as monsters and not portrayed as animals. Guess y'all didn't have Walking with Dinosaurs over in the colonies. Though that didn't have feathery raptors, admittedly.

Also, that potentially revolutionary, forward thinking, interesting and utterly broken game that has a special little spot in my heart, Jurassic Park: Trespasser which while it did feature dinosaurs as enemies, it was intended for them to behave as animals with them acting according to differing factors like hunger, thirst, fear, aggression, etc so they'd be going about their own business rather than actively hunting the player the whole time. Its all in the game too! Sadly though, its more or less all disabled - dinosaurs couldn't prioritise tasks effectively so they simply got stuck in a loop and never did anything. This problem was solved by simply setting aggression to maximum and everything else to zero for the dinos. Which is a shame, but sadly more or less what one expects from this intriguing but utterly flawed game.

I would genuinely be interested in a game (well, any type of entertainment media that isn't a neat little documentary) that treated dinosaurs as animals. I guess Tokyo Jungle is the closest we'll get except for any dinosaur zoo sim like Zoo Tycoon (the raptors also had a full-body of feathers in Zoo Tycoon 2). I like the feathery look, but then again I'm a nerd like that. Looks exotic *shrugs*. Still love Jurassic Park though.

Not only does the Dilophosaurus appear sans frill and toxic sputum, but with no humans in sight something becomes increasingly apparent: Apart from being larger and tougher, playing as dinosaurs is really no different than playing as a lion or hyena. You still have to find food, avoid predators, mark territory, find a mate, and try to pass on your genes to your offspring. In other words, removing humans from the game let dinosaurs exist in a more or less natural state - as animals trying to survive in an ecological system. When they kill, it's not out of malice but out of biological necessity. If prey eludes them, they don't go crashing through buildings to go after it, they just find slower prey. Playing as dinosaurs teaches a fundamentally different lesson than playing against dinosaurs.

To further add to that fact, playing dinosaurs in Tokyo Jungle actually kinda sucks. Not because the dinosaurs aren't badass and it's not satisfying to maul any animal without any effort. It's also not because other animals are out for your blood (well, there are, but only lions, tigers, panthers, sabretooths, bears, robots, and Dilophosaurus if you're a Deinonychus). It's because their hunger bars are so tiny. A Pomeranian's hunger bar is around 30 or something. A lot of the larger herbivores are close to 100. Wanna know what it is for a Deinonychus and sabretooth? 10. Bloody 10! That's NOTHING! It goes down so fast too and if you're in a territory without food or water, you're dead in less than 3 minutes. Dilophosaurus is even worse at 5! My first attempt I killed a few animals in Shibuya Station (even carried the carcasses as I went along to have a nibble to fill my bar) and moved down to the shopping district. Not a lot of territories had food in it (unusual for a first generation) and everything was outrunning me or hiding. I died by the time I reached Shibuya Suburbs. Took less than a minute for my bar to plummet and my life bar to end.

To add on, dinosaurs (and the other large animals) eat meals in one gulp, meaning their hunger bars go up in smaller increments (meaning a 3 gulp meal that fills a wolf would be eaten in one gulp by a dino and fill less maybe half the bar). That also means they recover from toxicity a lot slower (since each gulp takes off 10%). This problem doesn't affect large herbivores. They can kill nearly anything, but they pretty much need an IV CRI of KFC at all times in order to stay on their feet and attract decent mates so their progeny can be better off. Being the size you are, you also can't hide underground from any smog or surface predators (or take the sewer shortcuts), and prey can hide where you can't reach. I'm sure if I made it to that point, homo erectus would mug me (...like they always do).

So ya, it really sucks being a dino when you get down too it. Monsters they're not, even if they make you wet yourself when your Beagles are being chased by a pack of the buggers. It's because they'll most likely DIE in the next minute if they don't grab at least one from my pack. Mother nature gave them gigantic bulk and fearsome weapons, but they're animals and just being able to SURVIVE requires a greater need. That's what ultimately did them in. A larger, more complex animal with a lot of needs can't survive in a lot of cases (whether from an asteroid or other type of climate change)

Tokyo Jungle is surprisingly deep with it's mechanics if you take the time too look. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who hasn't already. Major darkhorse last year.

Maybe we need to rethink what dino's look like for scientific accuracy's sake, but since when are all dinosaurs seen as movie monsters? Even in Jurassic Park there were scenes of Brachiosaurs just munching on leaves, and sneezing on humans. Anyone with an interest in dinosaurs probably knows that they lived kinda like all animals do. Try to eat, rest, breed, bicker between eachother, try to get good jobs with health insurance, and try not to be eaten themselves.

On the flip side, I can acknowledge that a shark or a crocodile does more than just eat, but then, they do eat, and they eat meat, so a shark or crocodile attack is no less terrifying if you happen to be its meal of the moment.

Heck even your cutesy little house-cat looks pretty terrifying to a mouse.

I think this obsession with portraying (carnivorous) dinosaurs as hyperaggressive, man-hunting monsters comes from the same reason we like to imagine alien invasions, robot uprisings and zombie apocalypses- apex-predator boredom. What's the greatest external threat humankind faces today? Absolutely nothing. We've driven out all our competitors from a vast majority of our territory, and the few times we ever come in contact with another animal that could potentially kill us, they've probably wandered in from whatever few forested areas we haven't paved over yet (or we've foolishly gone and blundered into them). Your average first-world citizen has a higher chance of dying from a lightning strike than a predator.

So we, in our boredom, imagine up a competitor. A "safe" one, of course- one that will kill the weak of mind or body, but that can be defeated with enough brains, guts and weapons. Dinosaurs are a great theoretical competitor; they're often smart (for animals), deadly, and usually faster, stronger or bigger than us... but even an exceptionally bright pack of Utahraptors wouldn't do well against a military team armed with the latest in weaponry and technology.

Beyond that, though, the general mindset is "who cares, they were just dumb animals".

I know it is not as it is described, but now I just want a great big fluffy Trex...

The Rogue Wolf:
I think this obsession with portraying (carnivorous) dinosaurs as hyperaggressive, man-hunting monsters comes from the same reason we like to imagine alien invasions, robot uprisings and zombie apocalypses- apex-predator boredom. What's the greatest external threat humankind faces today? Absolutely nothing. We've driven out all our competitors from a vast majority of our territory, and the few times we ever come in contact with another animal that could potentially kill us, they've probably wandered in from whatever few forested areas we haven't paved over yet (or we've foolishly gone and blundered into them). Your average first-world citizen has a higher chance of dying from a lightning strike than a predator.

So we, in our boredom, imagine up a competitor. A "safe" one, of course- one that will kill the weak of mind or body, but that can be defeated with enough brains, guts and weapons. Dinosaurs are a great theoretical competitor; they're often smart (for animals), deadly, and usually faster, stronger or bigger than us... but even an exceptionally bright pack of Utahraptors wouldn't do well against a military team armed with the latest in weaponry and technology.

Beyond that, though, the general mindset is "who cares, they were just dumb animals".

In an earlier version of the article I pointed out that while dinosaurs would absolutely kill and eat the average human, and many were much larger than us, we would probably destroy them fairly quickly given our technological superiority. For example: The largest known creature in the history of Earth was not the sauropods, but the 100 foot-long 150 ton Blue Whale, a creature we hunted to near extinction with nothing but wooden boats and hand-held harpoons.

While some movies did have dinos chasing humans as though we were the most delicious thing on earth (Peter Jackson's King Kong comes to mind), I didn't think Jurassic Park itself comes under this. The T-rex attacks the humans a grad total of once, probably because its hungry and they're right there. After that its going after Gallimimus or spontaneously appearing to eat raptors. The raptors themselves seem to have just gone after the most convenient source of food (since the humans are both clustered together as a buffet and pretty easy to take down when compared to, say, a triceratops) though there may be a bit of malice behind them since JP has them as super intelligent

THANK YOU, this is what I have been trying to tell people since the 90's. Man fuck you, Spielberg, for paintig Dinosaurs as movie monsters and engraving that in public conciousness for two decades.

Pallindromemordnillap:
While some movies did have dinos chasing humans as though we were the most delicious thing on earth (Peter Jackson's King Kong comes to mind), I didn't think Jurassic Park itself comes under this. The T-rex attacks the humans a grad total of once, probably because its hungry and they're right there. After that its going after Gallimimus or spontaneously appearing to eat raptors.

Well, yeah, but the goat it had eaten right before attacking he humans would've kept it happy and sated for at least a day.

Personally, there is only one thing we need dionsaurs for. And that is for Matt Smith to say:
http://youtu.be/kWdKU752rK4?t=9s

So the T-rex had some feathers? Not that big of a deal. You want to know something really sad about the T-rex?

RJ Dalton:

Demon Slayer X:
Honestly because of Jurassic Park showing off dinosaurs eating people, it really fascinated me to learn about these creatures and how they lived. And I've learned a lot about dinosaurs too. Hell I noticed some bird like behavior in Jurassic Park's Velociraptor too.

Same.
And it really didn't take long for me to adjust to the idea of the raptors having feathers. And it got even more awesome when I read about how they used them. XKCD did a comic on it, actually: the raptors would hop on top of their pray, using their wings to keep balance while they hooked their claws into their next meal and pulled it apart. That's fucking awesome.

Although, a couple of friends of mine reacted so violently against it that they one of them actually went so far as to say how scientists get things wrong all the time, so they're probably wrong about this.
*sigh* Some people just have no respect for the hard work that goes into studying extinct species.

I'm really not seeing what the big deal about the feathers is.

I mean that damn thing is still a giant lizard with dagger sized teeth. Hell, ya know the little arms everone makes fun of it for? Apparently they were sill strong enough to lift about 400 pounds.

With or without feathers, I'd still say that the T-rex is still impressive.

Also, It would indeed be cool to learn more about what dinosaurs were really like. I would love to see more of that.
:D Especially in video games.

Robert Rath:

Games have been getting dinosaurs wrong pretty much forever.

An interesting article, but I missed one big controversy in the T-Rex field. There is a lot of evidence that the T-Rex was actually (mainly) a scavenger. Here is an interesting overview on the subject: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/t-rex-predator-or-scavenger.htm

"Feathered animals have never been as successfully scary as scaly animals, at least in western cultures," explains Mehling. "Feathering them not only lessens their dragon status but links them to living animals we rarely find terrifying."

Honestly, I can not come up with an example where they at least tried.
Is there a dinosaur themed horror movie that failed specifically because they feathered their raptors out there?

Robert Rath:
Games have been getting dinosaurs wrong pretty much forever.

Good article. One thing you didn't really mention that's always bugged me about most portrayals of dinosaurs is that, like so many movie monsters, they tend to be implausibly tough - you shoot them and they just keep coming because they're some kind of huge lizard-shaped tank. However, Tyrannosaurus Rex, for example, was about the size of an elephant (6.8 tons, 4m tall compared to 7 tons 4m tall for an elephant). We've done pretty well at killing elephants. And rhinos, lions, bears, whales (blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived), and so on. And we were managing this before we even invented guns. Godzilla might be a nuclear powered, bomb proof killing machine, but a dinosaur is just a regular animal that's not going to cope to well if you shoot it in the face with an elephant gun.

I always liked the stegosaurus, and diplodocus, although I'm not sure they're even called that anymore.

One thing I'd like to find out though. I was told, many, many years ago, that you couldn't have dinosaurs around now because there's not enough oxygen in the environment to support such large creatures. The same reason we no longer have 2-foot long dragonflies. The really big spiders you see have primitive lungs where as most insects just have trachea holes that extend to every cell in their body. They don't breath, the oxygen just gets in there. Dinosaurs had lungs but you need to have a bit more oxygen for the body to process enough energy to make bones larger.

I can't remember exactly the explanation, but something like that. But if that's true, you wouldn't be able to create clones of dinosaurs in this day and age, at least not the larger ones. Anyone know if this is true?

Here's a link showing Oxygen percentage of the atmosphere that confirms what I remember.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sauerstoffgehalt-1000mj2.png

SiskoBlue:
I always liked the stegosaurus, and diplodocus, although I'm not sure they're even called that anymore.

One thing I'd like to find out though. I was told, many, many years ago, that you couldn't have dinosaurs around now because there's not enough oxygen in the environment to support such large creatures. The same reason we no longer have 2-foot long dragonflies. The really big spiders you see have primitive lungs where as most insects just have trachea holes that extend to every cell in their body. They don't breath, the oxygen just gets in there. Dinosaurs had lungs but you need to have a bit more oxygen for the body to process enough energy to make bones larger.

I can't remember exactly the explanation, but something like that. But if that's true, you wouldn't be able to create clones of dinosaurs in this day and age, at least not the larger ones. Anyone know if this is true?

Here's a link showing Oxygen percentage of the atmosphere that confirms what I remember.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sauerstoffgehalt-1000mj2.png

I remember reading an article about the pterosaur and how the +9% oxygen boost of its era could be a good explanation of why he would be able to fly despite being much worse built than today's proper birds. Not sure about general dependencies of higher oxygen though.

But related to that, a 30% atmospheric oxygen content plus a stronger greenhouse effect than even today meant that dinosaurs probably lived 80 million years in fear of constant wildfires. At this point I wish I had a Smokey the Stegosaur picture.

One of my big annoyances with the Jurassic Park movies is how they portray the velociraptors as these larger than man lizards. They really weren't much taller than the average man's knees and looked way more birdlike.

sibrenfetter:
An interesting article, but I missed one big controversy in the T-Rex field. There is a lot of evidence that the T-Rex was actually (mainly) a scavenger. Here is an interesting overview on the subject: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/t-rex-predator-or-scavenger.htm

Eh, I've never really bought the "T-rex was a scavenger" idea. I mean, the main argument seems to be 'it can smell good, therefore it must use that to track carrion' which seems to ignore all sense in an attempt to fit the theory. Wolves have great senses of small too, but they're hunters. Hell, goddam sharks have even better noses, they're apex predators.
And even assuming that rexes couldn't move to fast (which I'm inclined to agree with, as it happens, do to how their leg bones locked together) its main prey from the fossil record appears to be stuff like hadrosaurs and ceratopsids, neither of which look like they could move particularly fast either. Those things are built like tanks, they're not going to leap around like gazelles
The bit about broken teeth is knew but do you really expect anything else from something that lives on meat? Thats why sharks have an endless conveyer belt of teeth available, to instantly replace ones that get broken or lost, and why sabre tooth cats like smilodon are believed to be a bit inefficient-the need to preserve their huge fangs would have stopped them really digging into a carcass

Like most scientific theories, I don't think there's a 100% consensus on how much feathers they actually had. It's clear that they had some and eventually evolved into birds today, but there's still enough leeway to portray them the way we see them in games imo (as long as you get the correct species ofc).

I would love to have another good dino game that sort of simulates a "natural dino ecology" that humans then try to get into. Not necessarily with T-rexes chasing them across the entire map like they have some sort of grudge, but simply as humans now exposed to the dangers of that time and age.

One of the interesting things about "Jurassic park" for me, was that most of the humans never carried any guns and were so defenseless against the dinos. That's what made them sort of scary. Games like Turok don't scare me because you almost always have a huge gun on your side to kill everything with.

Scarce guns would be a requirement for a good "dino survival" game imo.

Fdzzaigl:
Like most scientific theories, I don't think there's a 100% consensus on how much feathers they actually had. It's clear that they had some and eventually evolved into birds today, but there's still enough leeway to portray them the way we see them in games imo (as long as you get the correct species ofc).

I would love to have another good dino game that sort of simulates a "natural dino ecology" that humans then try to get into. Not necessarily with T-rexes chasing them across the entire map like they have some sort of grudge, but simply as humans now exposed to the dangers of that time and age.

One of the interesting things about "Jurassic park" for me, was that most of the humans never carried any guns and were so defenseless against the dinos. That's what made them sort of scary. Games like Turok don't scare me because you almost always have a huge gun on your side to kill everything with.

Scarce guns would be a requirement for a good "dino survival" game imo.

Turok wasn't really a survival game though. It was a "blast everything into oblivion with kickass fantasy weaponry" arcade fps platformer. Which reminds me, I have Turok 1 and 2 here with my N64... :)

Think of the chances for subverting a player's point of view with these kinds of discoveries. We expect "raptors" to be human-sized, scaly and toothy... what we see in Jurassic Park, basically. But imagine walking through a dinosaur infested forest, seeing a cute little feathery creature in your path. You move up to it and it squawks at you before running away. Then a couple of minutes later a large group of the things tear you to pieces while working in concert. Only too late do you find out you've just met your first "raptor".

Afterglow:
Think of the chances for subverting a player's point of view with these kinds of discoveries. We expect "raptors" to be human-sized, scaly and toothy... what we see in Jurassic Park, basically. But imagine walking through a dinosaur infested forest, seeing a cute little feathery creature in your path. You move up to it and it squawks at you before running away. Then a couple of minutes later a large group of the things tear you to pieces while working in concert. Only too late do you find out you've just met your first "raptor".

Basically, this. ^

Feathered, smaller beasts don't look scary? That's because you lack talent. Actual dinosaurs can still be presented as frightening creatures.

On the other hand, of course, media does tend to represent "dinosaurs" not as dinosaurs but as "scientifically plausible dragons". They never show that dinosaurs were actually real animals.... not that much scarier than an elephant or a tiger. And while elephants, tigers, or bears can be pretty fearful, they certainly aren't monster-level fearful. Which is why media prefers "dinosaurs = dragons" rather than "dinosaurs = animals".

bdcjacko:
This is just another example of Obama's America ruining my childhood. If Mitt Romney would have won, he would have yanked funding from childhood ruining dinosaur research and instead paid more to the global arms race or whatever. But no, we have this dinosaur hating president who not only made research possible to say we can never clone dinosaurs, but worse off that dinosaurs had fluffy cuddly feathers. Damn you Obama.

[/sarcasm]? If so, congratulate yourself for making my day.

OT- Yet another thing I've been trying to say for a while. Dinosaurs were cool, dammit! They were some of the most diverse things on the planet. For some reason, I'd like to see a (good) game portraying these guys like this. Why the industry can't stop making shooters is beyond me.

And thank you guys who posted in the thread before me; everything you guys said was quite interesting. Research time!

However much paleantologists complain about inaccurate depictions of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and other works, they should at least give them credit for getting people interested in dinosaurs. Childen might grow up with a wrong impression, but then they might also be interested enough to pursue a career in the subject and then go on to help the field discover the reality.

Yawn.

This whole "oh god, feathers look bad!" thing just makes me shake my head. Really?

Two things.

1) Feathers can be sleek. Puffy feathers are only one way birds look. Many birds have sleek feathers that lie close to their bodies. Feathers like this wouldn't significantly change the way a T-Rex looked. Larger feathers are mostly there for flight, not warmth or coloration. Look, for example, at an ostrich. Fairly sleek, close to the body, not very fluffy. That's more what I imagine most dinosaurs had.

2) Eagles. Even with fluffy feathers, eagles and hawks look pretty bad-ass.

I don't know why everyone always jumps straight to chickens. Chickens are domesticated animals who've undergone centuries of selective breeding. They don't look like they would have in the wild. Chickens are not a good example of what dinosaur plumage would look like, so this comparison is idiotic. Please stop using it.

 

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