87: Velociraptors

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Velociraptors
You're probably thinking, 'has it been a decade?'  It's been over thirteen years, buddy.
Title text: You're probably thinking, 'has it been a decade?' It's been over thirteen years, buddy.

Explanation

This comic refers to the film Jurassic Park, a 1993 movie based on the 1990 novel by Micheal Crichton. The film centres around a billionaire who buys an island and opens a zoo/theme park for dinosaurs which he has cloned from DNA recovered from blood found in fossilized mosquitos. Naturally, everything goes haywire, and several of the creatures, among which are the Velociraptors subject of this comic, try to devour every human in the theme park.

Velociraptors (often shortened to "raptors") are a species of relatively small, carnivorous dinosaur which play a central role original film, as well as its sequels. In the film, herds of Velociraptors antagonize the main characters at various points, even entering buildings; they play a large role in the climax of the film. According to Wikipedia, the Velociraptors in the film were erroneously based on the Deinonychus species of dinosaur. Unlike the movie, in which they are depicted as having a reptilian skin, both species of dinosaur in reality are theorized to have been feathered. This makes sense, as the word "raptor" also refers to modern birds of prey.

As we see in this comic, and will see in future comics, even though it had been approximately thirteen years since he presumably first saw the film, Randall, apparently has been perpetually scared and fears a real raptor attack; specifically, in this comic he worries how a building would stand up against the creatures. The drawn house mainly poses a risk by the large window in the living room, through which a Velociraptor could break-and-enter (believing that the bathroom window is too high for them to reach, and the door too secure to break through).

The image text points out what he presumes is the reader's disbelief that Jurassic Park had (as of 2006) been released so long ago (thirteen years prior). This is another classic xkcd premise which will later be the subject of a least one comic outright: #891 five years later, which includes Jurassic Park again.

Transcript

[Picture of a suburban house, with lines pointing to various aspects]

High bathroom window: probably secure.

Outer door: secure.

picture window: VELOCIRAPTOR ENTRY POINT!

Narrator: It's been over a decade since Jurassic Park opened, and I still size up buildings for their potential as shelter against velociraptor attacks.

Trivia

  • This comic marks the first reference in xkcd to Jurassic Park, and specifically to Randall's fear of Velociraptors. The fear will continue to be a subject of future comics and running jokes.
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Discussion

I know the knowledge of dinosaurs is growing and changing daily. Was it widely understood that Velociraptors were feathers back in the early 1990s? Tryc (talk) 17:33, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

Nope. The confirmation came quite later. Wikipedia: In 2007, paleontologists reported the discovery of quill knobs on a well-preserved Velociraptor mongoliensis forearm from Mongolia, confirming the presence of feathers in this species.

SaMa (talk) 13:31, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
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