758: Raptor Fences
Title text: If at least one person has a nightmare about being swarmed by hundreds of mouse-sized dromaeosaurids, my work will have been done.
In the film Jurassic Park, the protagonists are menaced (some fatally) by carnivorous dinosaurs, including very large velociraptors, which are a genus of dromaeosaurid. In this film the dinosaurs had been recreated via the sampling of ancient DNA recovered, primarily, from the stomachs of mosquitoes trapped in amber (fossilized tree sap).
Cueball is holding a lit cigarette, recalling the role of chain-smoking John "Ray" Arnold, the Chief Engineer of Jurassic Park, played by Samuel L. Jackson. He is reporting that the (veloci)raptors have escaped from their enclosure, but nobody seems overly concerned by this; they do not represent a danger. Apparently, the fear of being hunted by dinosaurs is greatly reduced if they have been genetically engineered to be small enough to gather up with a broom and dustpan.
Note that while growth is dependent on genes, it is extremely unlikely that any kind of genetic manipulation could reduce an animal in size by the factor of approximately 10,000 that is implied here, but perhaps no less unlikely than being able to recreate the dinosaurs in the first place. People seem ready to ascribe almost limitless powers to DNA and genetic engineering, but there are many practical constraints.
In reality, velociraptors were only about 50 centimeters in height. It is also believed that they were covered in feathers. Together, these factors paint a very different picture of velociraptors. The velociraptors from Jurassic Park more closely resemble Deinonychus, a relative of the velociraptor, in fact the Deinonychus was used as the model for the Jurassic Park raptors. Still the name "velociraptor" has been consistently, and incorrectly, associated with their portrayal.
The title text suggests that even very small dinosaurs could be terrifying to some, if they imagined a huge number of them. The author would be pleased if this was the case.
- [Cueball checks a computer terminal while a friend is running off in the opposite direction.]
- Cueball: The raptor fences are down. They're loose.
- Friend: I'll get a broom and dustpan.
- Jurassic Park got a lot less scary when the researchers discovered they could activate the gene for extreme dwarfism.
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