An open letter to Steven Spielberg: who would want a fluffy dinosaur?

A true dinosaur fan wants to see some feathers. So why are the dinosaurs in the new and hugely succesfull em>Jurassic World-movie naked? That’s what NRC-journalist Lucas Brouwers wants to know. He wrote a letter to producer Steven Spielberg. “An opportunity lost! You could have given kids a new nightmare!”

Een still uit de nieuwe trailer van Jurassic World Foto screenshot YouTube/Universal Pictures

A true dinosaur fan wants to see some feathers. So why are the dinosaurs in the new and hugely succesfull Jurassic World-movie naked? That’s what NRC-journalist Lucas Brouwers wants to know. He wrote a letter to producer Steven Spielberg. “An opportunity lost! You could have given kids a new nightmare!”

By Lucas Brouwers

Dear Steven,

I owe my dearest childhood trauma to you. It was on a Sunday, I was water painting a plaster Ninja Turtle figure in the kitchen. I didn’t hear the door opening. I didn’t notice anything or anyone creeping up on me. When I felt a claw on my back and heard a hissing growl in my ears, it was too late.

I started crying right away. I was sure there was a velociraptor in the kitchen. I knew I was done for.

Fortunately, my mom had no intention of devouring me. She just wanted to give me a good scare. Well, she succeeded: I’d just seen Jurassic Park, which had given me nightmares. Especially that bloodcurdling scene in which the two kids hide from cunning velociraptors left a huge impression on me.

I was way too young to go see your movie Steven, but my dinosaur obsession led my father to take me to the cinema anyway. I collected Panini dinosaur stickers. I knew every prehistoric reptile by heart, from Ankylosaurus to Quetzalcoatlus. I had heated discussions with friends: which dinosaur would win the ultimate clash between Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus?

That was twenty years ago. It has been that long since you released Jurassic Park. And Steven, what you created in 1993 was world class. You dusted off the dinosaur and reimagined them as living, breathing creatures. You made them snort, tramp, sneeze, devour goats and knock over porta-potties.

And now you’ve done it all again in Jurassic World. This summer, a brand new generation of boys and girls will get to know the magical creatures that roamed the earth one hundred million years ago. Man, I’d love to be in your shoes.

I’ve seen your movie, Steven. And wow. You pulled it off once more. Dinosaurs are back. Longnecks stomp across the plains. Pterosaurs soar the skies. You even thought of a Mosasaurus, the monster of the sea.

Everything felt right. Everything, except for one thing.

Your dinos are naked, Steven.

Butt-naked. Your Velociraptors are as scaly as they were twenty years ago.

You, of all people, should know better!

Surely someone told you that dinos had feathers? Haven’t you seen the fossils of feathered raptors and fluffy Tyrannosaurs?

Velociraptors resembled falcons more than they did lizards, and you know it. Just look out your window, Steven, and you’ll see them fly: birds, the living descendants of dinosaurs!

Last year, paleontologists discovered a feathered dinosaur in Siberia that was only distantly related to birds. The creature probably wore a crest and fluff around its torso. This could forever change the way we look at dinosaurs. Maybe all dinos were covered in fur of some sort.

We even know how some of these feathers looked in real life. In some fossils, the feathers still contain tiny pigment bearing sacs that reveal their original colors. That’s how we know now that Sinosauropteryx had red and white tail feathers.

Sure, I get it, this is Hollywood. Sometimes, science needs to make room for spectacle. Real velociraptors would’ve barely reached knee-high. They also probably hunted solo, not in groups. You could chase them out of your kitchen with a broomstick.

But just think of the missed opportunities here! You could have given kids a new nightmare. Razor sharp teeth underneath a cover of down. A Jurassic terror bird. An animal with the wit of a raven and the fierceness of a raptor.

Yet – none of this. For twenty years, paleontologists have been meticulously unveiling the true face of dinosaurs and you still pretend it’s still 1993.

You also made up a dinosaur. A genetic hybrid. A monster to trump all monsters. Was that really necessary? Why didn’t you revive one of the many dinosaurs which have been discovered over the past twenty years? Wasn’t Giganotosaurus big enough for you? Yutyrannus too fluffy?

Reality is more horrific and terrifying than anything you could ever come up with, Steven. The more realistic your dinosaurs, the louder we scream.

Steven, you may call my criticism biting or conservative. But I am pleading for change; for a 21st century dinosaur.

You know, Steven, I suspect you’re on my side. At night you dream of fuzz and fluff. Of a scene in which a little kid strokes the soft nose of a newly hatched velociraptor. It has to be the studio. They have convinced you fans won’t accept their childhood dinosaur getting makeovers.

Don’t worry Steven. I’ve seen your featherless movie and enjoyed it. But this morning, while I was reading my newspaper in the kitchen, I glanced over my shoulder. Suspicious of a claw, tucked away between some feathers.

Your devoted fan,
Lucas