Bad Geology Movies: Dinosaur, 2000



D.B. Sweeney, Julianna Margulies and Samuel E. Wright

Premise: What would happen if a dinosaur was raised by lemurs?

OK. This is totally a kids’ movie. I won’t say anything about talking dinosaurs. And I know there has to be tons of artistic license. Fine. Nevertheless, there are some things about this movie that are terribly inaccurate.

But I only took two pages of notes, and, admittedly, the pencil was blunt and there were pictures. So there’s not too much.

Dinosaurs that I recognized: Iguanodon (e-K), Carnotaurus (l-K), An Oviraptor (Rinchenia) (l-K), Velociraptor (l-K), Brachiosaurus (l-J), Styracosaurus (l-K), Ankylosaurus (l-K), Parasaurolophus (l-K), Struthiomimus (l-K)

Those funny little parenthetical bits there denote the age of rocks in which each of these animals are typically found. (l-K) means the late Cretaceous, just before the dinosaurs went extinct. Luckily, most of the animals depicted in the movie are from the late Cretaceous. That makes sense. The whole movie begins with an asteroid impact which, presumably, represents the one that killed off the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

There are a couple of problems though. For one, the main character is an Iguanodon. Iguanodon lived in the early Cretaceous (e-K). That could be 50-70 million years before the rest of the characters. But if that’s not bad enough, Brachiosaurus is from the late Jurassic (l-J), which is tens of millions of years older than that.

So, these animals never actually co-existed.

Lemurs, or any modern primate did not appear on the Earth until at least ten million years after the dinosaurs went extinct. So that just wouldn’t happen. But fuzzy animals with goofy personalities are great for the show.

There are some other bits that were worrysome: Why are the lemurs on an island separated from the mainland? Why aren’t there dinosaurs on that island? How come the nesting grounds are unaffected by the meteor impact? Why are all the dinosaurs essentially sentient, except for the poor ankylosaur?

That landslide was a little sketchy, too. Where did that rock come from?

Oh, and hey. Why did any dinosaurs survive? After all, didn’t the asteroid wipe them out at the end of the Cretaceous? In the end, this is actually OK. Maybe some relict populations did survive beyond the end of the Cretaceous, but died out soon thereafter. There’s even some evidence that this occurred, though most paleontologists are skeptical. The point is that it is plausible that not everything died immediately after the impact.

Besides, it’s a kids’ movie. What do you want?

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