Jurassic World: Dominion
Jurassic World: Dominion is the third instalment of the Jurassic World blockbuster series. Many of the same concerns we had with the earlier instalments also apply to this movie. The movie has good production quality and a refreshing plot. It has fewer funny moments compared to the previous instalments, but overall, the movie carries itself well, with a more developed storyline compared to earlier instalments of the series.
Like the previous two movies in the Jurassic World series, Jurassic World: Dominion has caught the attention of dinosaur enthusiasts all around the world. The previous two instalments centred around bioengineered dinosaurs that did not exist in real life (i.e. Indominus rex in the first Jurassic World, and Indoraptor in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom). In this third instalment, while there are no bioengineered dinosaurs, there are a number which are certainly man-made depictions on screen.
Dominion has received mixed reviews in the media. Some have described the storyline as convoluted, but others have welcomed the unique plot. There is still a lot of action in the movie but what stands out from the previous movies is the number of new dinosaur and dinosaur-like creatures featured in the movie.
As mentioned in our reviews of the earlier movies in the Jurassic World series, the Lord’s name is once again used in vain repeatedly throughout the movie. Jurassic World: Dominion unfortunately promotes the evolutionary worldview more explicitly than the previous episodes in the series. For the first time in the Jurassic World series, the movie has also depicted many ‘feathered’ dinosaurs.
Jurassic World: Dominion is the third movie in the Jurassic World trilogy. The latest movie depicts life four years after the second. Dinosaurs now live alongside humans and have spread all around the world. People still struggle to adapt to life with these destructive creatures. This has also spawned a black market for exotic and dangerous dinosaurs through illegal breeding, smuggling, and poaching.
Claire Dearing, the former operations manager of Jurassic World, and Owen Grady, the protagonist and Velociraptor trainer in the previous movie, now live together in a secluded mountain cabin.
Viewers familiar with the first in the Jurassic World series, Fallen Kingdom, would remember being introduced to Charlotte Lockwood. Charlotte Lockwood was a lead geneticist in Jurassic Park. When Charlotte died in an untimely car accident, we were told that her father cloned her resulting in the first human clone—Maisie Lockwood. In Dominion, Maisie Lockwood is now 14 years old. She has spent the last four years of her life in seclusion, raised by Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. Unfortunately, she is kidnapped by human smugglers who bring her to a research facility known as BioSyn.
At BioSyn, Maisie discovers that not only was she a genetic clone, but her mother had become pregnant with her through the process of parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis refers to a form of asexual reproduction where a creature can produce offspring without a mate. This phenomenon is known to happen in various invertebrates and vertebrates. In vertebrates, parthenogenesis has been observed in fish, reptiles, amphibians and on the rare occasion, birds; but this is not known to occur in mammals in the wild. Interestingly, in Jan 2022, some scientists claimed to have artificially induced parthenogenesis in mice through genetic manipulation in a lab.1
In Dominion, Maisie discovers that her mother Charlotte died from a genetic disease not long after giving birth to Maisie. As Maisie is a genetic clone of her mother, she too had the same harmful genes. However, before her death, Charlotte managed to modify Maisie’s DNA by removing those harmful genes. When Charlotte died, her knowledge of genetic engineering was lost. Thus, Maisie became the most important ‘intellectual property’ in the world, since her DNA was the only way that scientists would be able to reverse-engineer what her mother did in the lab.
At the same time, the movie tells us that an extinct species of giant locusts is devastating the world’s food supply. These unidentified species of locust appear to be around 70 cm in size in the movie and were said to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs ‘millions of years ago’. Nobody knows how these locusts came back into existence (like many of the creatures featured in the movie, these giant locusts exceed the size of any known grasshoppers in the fossil record).
However, paleobotanist Ellie Sattler and her love interest, Dr Alan Grant (both from the original 1993 Jurassic Park movie), discover that while these locusts devastate entire farmlands, they will always leave BioSyn crops untouched. They suspect that BioSyn must have brought these insects back into existence and have genetically engineered them to avoid plants grown using BioSyn seeds. Thus, they decide to break into BioSyn to gather evidence.
While the film does not explicitly mention any kind of opposition to GMO crops, it implicitly brings to mind GMO crops that are currently on the market today. For example, the great bulk of the maize grown today is genetically modified to produce a protein found in a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This allows such a modified crop to be resistant to boring insects without the need to spray Bt. (See: What should Christians think about artificial selection and genetic modification?)
In the movie, BioSyn is suspected of not only producing crops that are resistant to this extinct locust, but of also deliberately reviving the extinct locust to cause worldwide starvation and to increase the value of their locust-resistant crops.
In a series of unfortunate events, the attempt to escape from BioSyn results in the protagonists having to flee from terrifying dinosaurs. Without giving away too much of a spoiler, viewers encounter a lot of unique action scenes including a dinosaur chase in a crowded city, a plane crash from a pterosaur attack, swimming feathered dinosaurs hunting underwater in an icy terrain, and an attack by giant dinosaur-like creatures (synapsid: Dimetrodon) in a cave scene. The movie climaxes with a battle for the title of ‘apex predator’, involving T. rex and two new dinosaurs: Giganotosaurus and a feathered dinosaur, Therizinosaurus.
Dinosaur kinds and species
In the literature, there are probably around 1,500 scientific names that have been assigned to dinosaurs. But around 16% of all dinosaur names are duplicated, and 32% of names are errant for other reasons.2 Gregory Paul, a well-known evolutionist and writer, lists 750 dinosaur species in his dinosaur encyclopedia.3 But Paul has often acted as a splitter, rather than a lumper. That is, he tends to over-name the number of species. While there is much debate among both creationists and evolutionists on the actual number of dinosaurs, most biblical creationists believe that all dinosaurs can be categorized into roughly 55–60 categories that probably corresponded to the original created kinds.
This latest instalment of the film also promotes the idea of dinosaur-to-bird evolution far more explicitly than the earlier ones in the series. For example, a lead character in the movie states that, “Technically, birds are dinosaurs, genetically speaking”. This of course is no surprise as the new paleontology expert behind the film is Stephen Brusatte, currently Reader in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Edinburgh. Brusatte’s 2018 book, The rise and fall of the dinosaurs, was read by Colin Trevorrow, the American director and co-writer of the first two titles of the Jurassic Park films. He then contacted Brusatte as he wanted to make the third film more “scientifically accurate”. This was Brusatte’s opening to introduce feathered dinosaurs. As Brusatte explains:
“This [feathered dinosaurs] wasn’t known in 1993 when Jurassic Park came out. The first fossils of dinosaurs with feathers were found in 1996 so if Steven Spielberg had tried to put feathers on those dinosaurs in 1993 he would have been laughed out of Hollywood. But then a few years later it turns out that they had feathers so they wouldn’t have looked like how they do in the original film. We’re starting to rectify that now—we have feathered dinosaurs in the new film for the first time, including this new character the Pyroraptor, a close cousin of Velociraptor. This thing had feathers all over its body, big wings on its arm, and flamboyant red colours on it.”4
In our review of the previous Jurassic World movies, we praised the movie for not depicting dinosaurs with feathers. However, this drew the ire of many evolutionists. In this third instalment of Jurassic World: Dominion, many of the newer dinosaurs, and even pterosaurs, are depicted with colourful feathers or dino-fuzz.
Most evolutionists today believe that many dinosaurs were covered in a feather-like or hair-like covering. We have discussed this issue repeatedly in several articles where we show that what evolutionists regard as proto-feathers or dino-fuzz on some dinosaur fossils, are just decayed skin collagen fibres. The exact same fuzzy structures are also seen in pterosaurs and even marine reptiles! Marine reptiles certainly did not have feathers!
For many of the reasons we believe that the evidence currently does not support the idea that dinosaurs had feathers, see: Researchers remain divided over ‘feathered dinosaurs’; Feathered pterosaurs: ruffling the feathers of dinosaur evolution; Separating fact from fiction in a farcical story! and ‘Feathered’ dinos: no feathers after all! We have also covered this in several Creation Talk episodes on our YouTube channel: Did Pterosaurs really have feathers; and Is there evidence of feathered dinosaurs?)
Fans of the franchise have tried to identify the dinosaurs in the film. Some claim that there are around 26 dinosaurs and six non-dinosaurian creatures (excluding an unidentified giant locust).5 Ten of these creatures are completely new to the series.
These are the creatures featured in the movie: Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Atrociraptor, Baryonyx, Brachiosaurus, Carnotaurus, Compsognathus, Dilophosaurus, Dimetrodon, Dimorphodon, Dreadnoughtus, Gallimimus, Giant locust (unidentified species), Giganotosaurus, Iguanodon, Lystrosaurus, Microceratus, Moros, Mosasaurus, Nasutoceratops, Oviraptor, Parasaurolophus, Pteranodon, Pyroraptor, Quetzalcoatlus, Sinoceratops, Stegosaurus, Stygimoloch, Therizinosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Velociraptor.
We will just discuss a few of the newer dinosaurs below that played a significant role in this movie.
The first is a giant pterosaur called Quetzalcoatlus. At 5.4 m (18 feet), this flying reptile has a wingspan of 11 m in real life and would be the size of a small passenger plane. In the movie, a Quetzalcoatlus brings down the medium–sized plane that Owen, Claire, and Kayla (a new character who offered to fly them to BioSyn) were in. Quetzalcoatlus is depicted with a dense hair-like covering called pycnofibres. However, it is unlikely that these creatures were covered in any such covering in real life, and the small hair-line structures seen on the surface of some pterosaur fossils in real life, are likely to be partially decayed skin collagen fibres.
As a result of the plane crash, Claire found herself separated from Owen and Kayla. She survives but comes face to face with a fearsome Therizinosaurus. This is the first time that a Therizinosaurus has been featured on screen in the Jurassic World. Like many of the newer dinosaurs in the movie, Therizinosaurus is drawn with long, colourful, downy feathers. Many evolutionists today think that Therizinosaurus has long feathers based on another Therizinosaurid species known as Beipiaosaurus. Beipiaosaurus was found in China with rodlike fibrous structures on the head, neck and posterior half of its trunk. This has been interpreted by many evolutionists as a new feather type in non-avian theropods, called EBFF, or Elongated Broad Filamentous Feathers.
Not all evolutionists are convinced. Dr Alan Feduccia, an evolutionist who is skeptical of feathered-dinosaur claims, wrote concerning Therizinosaurus: “Without citing Lingham-Soliar’s work showing that the various filaments could be collagen fibers, they accept the Prum model as reflected in Chinese fossils… Of course, the only problem is that there is no evidence that the rodlike structures have anything to do with feathers; nor is there any evidence that the structures are hollow.”6
We concur with Feduccia that the evidence does not support the view that Therizinosaurus was feathered. The long fibrous structures seen on their fossils, like other claims of proto-feathers, are best explained as partially decayed skin collagen fibres rather than feathers. Therizinosaurus was a massive creature. With a bear-like gait, and elongated arms that end with 1 m long claws (the largest of any creature), coupled with very small leaf-like teeth and a long neck that ends in a horny beak, this herbivorous dinosaur is a contender for the title of the strangest looking dinosaur. It is most well-known for its long claws that give it an ungainly appearance.
Therizinosaurus is so strange–looking that it has historically been enigmatic for evolutionists trying to guess its evolutionary ancestry. The creature is often depicted in books as a giant ground-sloth-like version of a dinosaur with slow ungainly movements.
However, in the movie Therizinosaurus is presented as an extremely fast, aggressive, and territorial dinosaur that stalks its victims and which is more than capable of fighting some of the fiercest dinosaurs in the land. It is presented as one of the scariest dinosaurs in the show. In one of the scenes, a Therizinosaurus is seen with a white layer over its eyes, suggesting that it was suffering from cataracts or a similar condition.7
After the plane crash, Owen and Kayla land in a snowy mountain as they make their way towards BioSyn on a frozen lake. They come into contact with a Pyroraptor. This is another new dinosaur that appears in the movie for the first time. As one can tell from the name, this is another dromaeosaurid dinosaur not unlike Velociraptor. There is very little that is known about Pyroraptor in the fossil record. All we have are a few small bones—several claws and bones of its foot, an ulna (forearm bone), and a few teeth and vertebrae. There is no way to tell if the bones are from a juvenile species of dromaeosaurid dinosaur or from Velociraptor. The bones themselves probably came from a specimen that was around knee-high in height. There is no evidence of feathers in the fossil record, nor are feathers found on related creatures such as Velociraptor or other related creatures, despite the claim by some evolutionists.
These tiny creatures are presented in the movie as a 2 m tall Deinonychus-like dromaeosaur, albeit with red and grey pennaceous (i.e. flight) feathers. Unlike the other dinosaurs in the movie that are depicted with long strand-like proto-feathers, this creature is depicted in the movie as having asymmetrical flight feathers. But no evidence for feathers in Pyroraptor exists in fossils today, and neither do we have any evidence that they were highly adapted to an aquatic environment, nor were they living in freezing conditions. In Dominion, a Pyroraptor is shown trying to catch Owen and Kayla—not in the traditional manner on land, but by diving under the ice of the frozen lake, swimming rapidly like a penguin. The dinosaur then encircles them under the ice and breaks the ice in an attempt to cause the protagonists to fall into the ice. The semi-aquatic dinosaur in the movie then propels itself out of the ice and launches itself at the humans who managed to get away just in time.
Not only is this creature for the most part made up by the producers, but it is highly unlikely that a creature with flight feathers like this would be able to dive into the water of an icy lake and swim proficiently in this fashion without suffering from hypothermia.
Atrociraptor has made it to the screen for the first time in the Jurassic World series. This is one of the two new ‘raptors’ that appears for the first time together with Pyroraptor. Unfortunately, just like Pyroraptor, this dinosaur is only known from a fossil consisting of parts of its upper and lower jaws together with some teeth, and a small portion of the skeleton. So while the dinosaur is believed to be from the Dromaeosaurid kind (the same created kind as the Velociraptor and Deinonychus), we do not have much information about this dinosaur.
In Dominion, the producers recreated Atrociraptor to resemble the movie’s depiction of the Velociraptor with small anatomical differences. Unobservant viewers would not notice the difference between the Velociraptor and the Atrociraptor in the movie.
Velociraptors in the Jurassic World series are modelled after the Deinonychus at 3 to 4 m in length, and around 1.8 m in height. However, the real Velociraptor was only around the height of a large dog and weighed 25 kg. Its length would have been about 2.5 m. Similarly, while we do not know much about Atrociraptor in real life, the fossil specimen suggests a small dinosaur around 15 kg, and 2 m in length.8 This would make it even smaller than the Velociraptor.
In the movie, Atrociraptor is shown to be slightly bigger than the oversized Velociraptor at 2 m tall and 3.9 m in length.9 There are four Atrociraptors in the movie, known as Ghost, Tiger, Red, and Panthera. In one of the most action-packed scenes in the movie, these dinosaurs were involved in a motorcycle and vehicle chase through the busy streets of Valletta, the capital of Malta. Similar to the Velociraptor in Jurassic World, Atrociraptor is presented as a pack hunter with a similar long, retractable claw. The most distinct difference from the Velociraptors in the movie is how they are depicted as having a slightly shorter but taller skull.
Giganotosaurus is the apex predator in the movie. This carnivorous creature is larger than the T. rex, and in one fight scene, was able to knock out the T. rex in a fight.
In real life, this creature would likely have been part of the Carcharodontosaurid created kind, although it is possible that the created kind in this case could possibly be part of the Allosauroidea superfamily, This would then mean that it would fall under the Allosaurid kind. Giganotosaurus would have rivalled the T. rex and Spinosaurus for the title of the largest carnivorous dinosaur. Spinosaurus was not shown in this movie. Giganotosaurus is believed to have had a weaker jaw than the T. rex, though, it would still have had the ability to hold around 500 kg.
Lystrosaurus is not a dinosaur, but a dicynodont therapsid. Dicynodonts used to be called mammal-like reptiles, due to their strange anatomy, where they have some traits similar to mammals, and some traits of reptiles. However, they are quite unlike both reptiles and mammals. While they have traditionally been regarded by evolutionists as a progenitor of mammals, they have been an enigma for evolutionists trying to place them on an evolutionary tree. For example, consider Lisowicia bojani, an elephant-sized dicynodont that has been a puzzle for many evolutionists. These creatures appear to be a unique class of creatures that have since gone extinct. Lystrosaurus was a pig-like creature that only had two teeth that protrude like a pair of tusks, and a horny beak which it likely used to eat vegetation. Unlike dinosaurs, which have an upright standing posture, Lystrosaurus has limbs that sprawled outwards sideways like lizards, and measured 0.6 to 2.5 m in length depending on species. They also have a very different skull compared to dinosaurs. For example, dinosaurs, lizards, snake, and crocodiles, have two holes in their skull behind their eyes known as fenestrae, while mammals and non-mammalian synapsids have one fenestra. So these creatures cannot be classified as dinosaurs.
In the movie, a small Lystrosaurus is shown in a cage being sold on the black market.
Like the Lystrosaurus, Dimetrodon is another non-mammalian synapsid that is shown in the movie. This is a sail-backed reptilian-looking creature. In Dominion, the main characters are hunted by several Dimetrodons when they get stuck in an abandoned mine. These creatures are depicted as highly aggressive, carnivorous animals. Dimetrodon is often misrepresented as a dinosaur, but as explained earlier with Lystrosaurus, non-mammalian synapsids have a very different skull from dinosaurs, and their limbs protrude outwards.
Jurassic World: Dominion offers dinosaur fans a fresh plot and it has generated a lot of excitement with the way it has depicted many new creatures. In the movie, there are no lab-created dinosaur hybrids (although there are genetically modified giant locusts and clones), but the movie has also clearly gone down the ‘feathered dinosaurs’ rabbit hole. Feathered dinosaurs play a big role in this latest movie, and there has been quite a bit of artistic license in the way some creatures are presented. For example, many of the creatures in the movie are bigger than they would have been in real life. There is also no reason to think that the Pyroraptor (or any other feathered dinosaurs depicted in the movie) had feathers, could dive and swim like a penguin, and do all this in freezing waters.
The movie was enjoyable for the most part, but the repeated misuse of the Lord’s name and the pro-evolution-leaning emphasis of the movie makes it hard for us to recommend it.
References and notes
- Wei, Y., Yang, C., and Zhao Z., Viable offspring derived from single unfertilized mammalian oocytes, PNAS 119(12):e2115248119, 19 Jan 2022. Return to text.
- Dalton, R., In search of Thingummyjigosaurus—There are errors in almost half the names given to dinosaurs, nature.com, 17 Sep 2008. Return to text.
- Paul, G.S., The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 2nd Edn, Princeton University Press, 2016. Return to text.
- Didcock, B. Why Jurassic Park’s dinosaur consultant Steve Brusatte thinks Scotland is paleontology’s “new frontier”, herladscotland.com, 10th June 2022. Return to text.
- Jurassic World: Dominion, Jurassic Park Wiki, jurassicpark.fandom.com. Return to text.
- Feduccia, Alan. Riddle of the Feathered Dragons: Hidden Birds of China, Yale University Press, p.135. Return to text.
- Therizinosaurus, Jurassic Park Wiki, jurassicpark.fandom.com/wiki/Therizinosaurus. Return to text.
- Paul, G., The Princeton field guide to dinosaurs, Princeton University Press, 2016, p. 151. Return to text.
- Atrociraptor, Jurassic Park Wiki; jurassicpark.fandom.com/wiki/Atrociraptor. Return to text.