Thirty years have passed since the release of Michael Crichton’s classic 1990 novel Jurassic Park, which would be followed three years later, in 1993, by the beloved film adaptation of the same name. And this month marks the fifth anniversary of Jurassic World — which opened June 12, 2015 — injecting new life to the franchise, bringing with it new dinos and launching more movies.
Now five films into a mega-blockbuster, multimedia franchise, with a sixth – Jurassic World: Dominion — in the works and an animated show, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, coming to Netflix, Jurassic remains a pioneering and beloved series.
But in the meantime, we just want to know which out of of InGen’s dinosaurs are the best and we thought you might like that too!
Yes, we’ve attempted the – quite frankly — ridiculous task of revisiting and ranking just about every single dinosaur to have ever appeared in a Jurassic Park movie. Why? Because, to quote Dr. Ian Malcolm, the greatest of all the men, ‘Life finds a way’. What we suggest you do is settle down to enjoy this gargantuan celebration of thirty years of Jurassic Park. Probably not on the toilet. That never ends well. Probably not in the kitchen either. Just a chair will do. A nice comfy chair.
Note: We realize a couple of the selections below, like the Pteranodon, aren’t technically considered dinosaurs, but we’re including them under the blanket of “dinosaurs” as featured in these films.
Someone had to be last — and who better than this hard-headed herbivore to handle the news? That said, don’t think Pachycephalosaurus doesn’t have its moments within the five Jurassic Park films to date. In 1997’s The Lost World, one of the creatures – whose skulls were ten inches thick! — headbutts the door of a jeep so hard that the poor InGen hunter who stood between it and the vehicle is almost certainly only now out of traction. Elsewhere, one of its kind is given a nickname from master hunter Roland Tembo (played by the late, great Pete Postlethwaite). Unable to enunciate the creature’s name correctly, Tembo refers to the creature as ‘Friar Tuck’.
A series staple — and only slightly bigger than one — the Compsognathus are the dinosaurs who attack eight-year-old posh British kid Cathy Bowman at the start of The Lost World, kickstarting the entire premise of the movie. And, having overwhelmed and nibbled to death InGen hunter Dieter Stark later in that same film, they’re a species with an impressive kill to their name. We say impressive because the ‘Compys’ are but twelve inches high and can only hunt and kill by working as a pack. It would feel trite to rank them any higher than here – how scary is the dinosaur, really, that you could basically stomp to death? – but let’s hear it for the little guys, anyway.
You don’t see a lot of this pterosaur in the Jurassic Park series, and not until 2015’s Jurassic World, whereupon the marauding Indominus Rex destroys the glass-dome aviary that they and the larger Pteranodon share. The liberated Dimorphodon then cause all kinds of havoc on the park’s Main Street, even attacking Owen Grady before being downed by Claire Dearing. They’re unquestionably a gnarly, toothy (their name translates to ‘two-form tooth’) critter and a welcome addition to the series. But that their finest appearance onscreen comes via an incoming InGen soldier casually shooting one out of the sky, means they can’t possibly rank any higher.
A sauropod, there’s a scene in Jurassic World whereupon Owen and Claire discover a field of dead Apatosaurus. The two of them kneel and comfort the sole survivor, a watery-eyed giant, until it too passes away. “She’s killing for sport,” says Owen, ominously, in reference to the, escaped, rampaging Indominus Rex, the hybrid dinosaur that’s left such a bloody trail behind it. In that moment, the Apatosaurus became not only one of our favorite dinosaurs, but also a precious thing we wanted to protect from harm at all costs! Moments of empathy from the humans for the dinosaurs are in short supply within the Jurassic Park series, but this is one such example.
There’s a moment in 2018’s Fallen Kingdom where, if you listen closely enough, you can almost hear the motorcycle engines hum and the sharks snapping their jaws below. We speak, of course, of the Indoraptor, Dr. Henry Wu’s hybrid-dinosaur-cum-weapon-of-war, created deep in the bowels of the oh-so-gothic Lockwood Manor. In truth, there is much to like about the idea of a Velociraptor and an Indominus Rex being spliced together, then auctioned off to a crowd of rogue military men, terrorists and gangster dons. There are shades of Nosferatu in how the creature stalks the mansion halls. There’s some allegory between it and Frankenstein’s monster. It’s just… well, by this point, everything is getting very silly indeed.
The Indoraptor has its fans though, including over at Fandom’s Jurassic Park wiki, where DinosaurLvr62 said, “Although he’s smaller than the Indominus Rex, he is faster and more flexible. The sounds he makes are terrifying to me, and he walks and runs on four legs like a deranged hellhound. He also creepily shakes like an insane dude. The backstory of the Indorator, being diseased and abused is very interesting.”
The Parasaurolophus is another dino that The Lost World’s Roland Tembo struggles to pronounce the name of.
“The one… the one with the big red horn, the pompadour. Elvis!” he tells his mercenary team while commanding them to round-up Isla Sorna’s wild dinosaur population. It begs the question as to how Tembo might nickname some of the other creatures on the island. “Go get me an angry turkey!” (Archaeopteryx). “I need a cornflake monster!” (Stegosaurus). If the Drunk History team ever remade Walking With Dinosaurs, Roland might have a second career as a television host.
With a 60ft pharynx, Mamenchisaurus is believed to be the longest-necked creature to have ever lived on planet Earth. Surprisingly, for one so distinguished, it only features within two (admittedly very cool) bits of Jurassic Park lore. Firstly, the scene in The Lost World where a hunter drives a motorcycle between its enormous legs – yeah, beat that Knievel – and secondly a scene in the same film which never made it to being committed to tape, where Dr. Sarah Harding observes two Mamenchisaurus… um… doing it. Wind your neck in, etc.
Considering the superstar popularity of the giant herbivore, it’s surprising that the Stegosaurus doesn’t play a bigger part within the Jurassic franchise than it does; with the exception of one lovely, awe-inspiring scene in the second film, it’s slim pickings for the spiky tailed one. Legend has it that Steven Spielberg received so many thousands of disappointed letters from children after the first film aired, all complaining that their favorite dinosaur didn’t appear in said feature, that it was amongst the first creatures confirmed to appear in The Lost World. Pay attention however, and you’ll see that there is mention of the creature in the 1993 film. Despite being bizarrely misspelled ‘Stegasaurus’ on the test tube, the ‘roofed lizard’s DNA is one of the embryos stolen by Dennis Nedry.
An enigma within Jurassic Park lore; although the carnivorous theropod only appears onscreen in just the one Jurassic Park movie — 2001’s third installment – and even then only for a matter of seconds (the creature eying up Dr. Grant and co, then retreating due to the humans being covered in Spinosaurus poo) the Ceratosaurus is one of the most popular dinosaurs within the series fandom. You can’t deny it looks awesome. With a head the color of blood and a big phat spike on its snozzle, the creature has been a staple of Jurassic Park toys, videogames and other merch runs since the very beginning.
With a name translating to ‘meat-eating bull’, it’s easy to view these two-horned carnivores as a souped-up take on Ceratosaurus. It’s another horned dinosaur, yes, but this one goes right the way up to eleven. It certainly gets more screentime than its similarly-named peer, with the creature not only appearing in a cool three-way face off in 2018’s Fallen Kingdom that sees a Sinocertops fighting a Carnotaurus fighting a T-Rex, all while a Gyrosphere containing Franklin Webb and Claire is kicked around like a futsal. Then there’s the closing moments of the movie, where a Carnotaurus and a T-Rex tear apart the body of mega baddie Eli Mills. There’s a reason why its DNA makes up a portion of the Indominus Rex!
This creature – the name means ‘Helmet lizard’, FYI — barely gets any onscreen time in the series, only being seen grazing with other herbivores in Jurassic World III before a pack of Velociraptors cause the two aforementioned creatures to stampede, ultimately separating the humans. So what’s it doing relatively high on this list, you ask? Well, remember back in the first movie, when Dr. Alan Grant is holding court, suggesting that dinosaurs had more in common with birds than reptiles and everyone, on screen and in the cinema, went, “Oooh” like some great truth had been revealed? Well, how anyone looked at the Corythosaurus– a dinosaur we don’t think it’s entirely unkind to say looks like an oversized duck forever trying to solve a really difficult sum – and ever thought otherwise is beyond us. Palaeontology, schmalaeontology!
Here’s a cool fact. Every time you see a Sinoceratops in Fallen Kingdom – a creature best described as a moth bitten Triceratops — what you were originally supposed to be seeing was a Pachycephalosaurus! The decision to swap the creatures was made so late in the day that the subsequently released Mattel Sinoceratops toy looks suspiciously like Sinoceratops’ aforementioned fellow veggie. Not only that, but the vocalizations heard for the big-ass, four-legged-beast are actually those created for the Pachycephalosaurus! Thankfully the Sinoceratops made it into the movie, if in a form slightly compromised. A unique and unusual dinosaur, it’s one of our absolute favorites. Oh, and here’s a cool fact; its name translates as ‘horned face from China’, the location in which its remains have been found.
Something that theropods don’t like to mention at social gatherings; Gallimimus translates as ‘chicken mimic’. Oh dear. And yet, embarrassing moniker aside, the wirey Gallimimus appear in one of the series’ most iconic moments. This comes in the 1993 movie – and is in fact based on the book’s chapter ‘Dawn’ — just after the functioning park has begun to disappear down the pan, when a ‘flock’ of the creatures flee from the now escaped T-Rex out on the island’s plains. One of the Gallimimus trips upon the other creatures’ feet, they both fall, one is tucked into by the pursuing Apex predator. Whether Gallimimus actually tastes like chicken or not is unconfirmed.
13. INDOMINUS REX
The general premise behind the Indominus Rex – a dinosaur genetically created to boost attendance at the Jurassic World site by the brilliant/morally corrupt/in-way-over-his-head Dr. Henry Wu – is a cool one. The subplot of the hybrid dinosaur actually being created for military usage is an interesting one too, if one that makes the whole thing overly fussy.
The idea that, in the future, dinosaurs – of all things – won’t be exciting enough and we will be forced to create faster, bigger, more vicious dinosaurs than what nature intended, says something poignant about society, consumerism, and all sorts of things. Ultimately, the real problem with the Indominus Rex is that it’s just not frightening enough. Sure, that it’s a mix of savage creatures like Giganotosaurus and Majungasaurus is unsettling. Something negated by every reminder there’s a load of cuttlefish DNA also in the creature’s primordial soup.
KingFathom though is firmly on Team Indominus Rex, noting, “Being able to camouflage, hide your body temperature and have claws as long as a man’s arm is a huge advantage. Also, being able to turn other dinos to your side is awesome.”
Recent scientific thinking has suggested that the Stygimoloch isn’t actually a species of its own, but rather the juvenile form of Pachycephalosaurus. Even Jack Horner — the American palaeontologist who has long served as a consultant on the Jurassic films — thinks so, and Dr. Alan Grant is based on him!
And yet, let’s ignore that for now, as the form the Stygimoloch takes in the Jurassic Park movies is one of some importance. Or at least one called ‘Stiggy’ is. It’s this Stygimoloch who frees Claire and Owen from imprisonment at Lockwood Manor in Fallen Kingdom, leaving the way for the pair to, literally, save the day. We’ll leave you with this crucial information; the noises Stygimoloch makes? That’ll be the bark of a dachshund, a camel and a whole load of pigs!
On one hand, 2001’s Jurassic Park: III is a blast. A lean, relentless, gonzo revival of the series-to-date’s Greatest Hits. On the other, it’s a movie completely lacking in substance and barely deserving of the title that adorned 1993’s blockbuster original. And yet unquestionably the best bit about it is Dr. Alan Grant’s panicked utterance of “it’s a bird cage” before an enormous Pteranodon, wings and limbs tucked into the most obtuse angles, the creatures eyes devoid of anything we might recognise as good, stumbles out of the fog, picks up wee Eric Kirby and then attempts to feed him to its chicks. See also: the numerous Pteranodon trying to pick up children riding the backs of juvenile Triceratops in Jurassic World’s Gentle Giants Petting Zoo.
Said Dinosaurus1, “The JP3 Pteranodon is just so awesome (the design, minus the teeth, looks amazing, and the coloration perfectly fits the theme of the JP Trilogy), and the Jurassic World / Fallen Kingdom designs are great too.”
This breed of Spinosaur (but not a Spinosaurus – got that?) was originally set to be the main antagonist of 2001’s Jurassic Park III. The traditional Jurassic Park logo, only now sporting a silhouetted creature with the Barynonyx’s long, toothy snout, was actually mocked up and circulated, as well as a series of quite exciting storyboards (search the internet and you shall find). And yet, ultimately, the team decided to hold off, placing Spinosaurus (still following us?) at the heart of the third main story and instead saving the Baryonyx for a great set piece, well over a decade later, in 2018’s Fallen Kingdom. We speak, of course, of the fraught control room drama between Claire, Franklin, an inquisitive Baryonyx and a volcano load of lava…
Everyone loves the Triceratops, right? Dr. Grant certainly does. “She was my favorite when I was a kid,” says the curmudgeonly dino-ledge in Jurassic Park. “Now I see her, she’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw.” And if you’re wondering why it never quite worked out between the good doctor and Ellie Sattler, there you have it.
The scene in which Ellie nurses a sick Triceratops, ill after eating the poisonous West Indian Lilac, having confused its berries for gastroliths, is one of the series’ most iconic moments. In 2014, a photo of director Steven Spielberg posing in front of the animatronic Triceratops used for the aforementioned scene went viral, with a shocking amount of people thinking that the image was actually a trophy of a real animal. Change.org petitions were started. Fury spread across the internet. Never mind dinosaurs, isn’t it amazing that the human race hasn’t gone extinct yet?
Still, it’s clear love runs deep for the Triceratops. As Legolas31 put it, when naming their favorite Jurassic dino, “Triceratops, because it looks cute 😻😻😻”
Here’s a wild fact; the Spinosaurus is the biggest carnivorous animal that has ever been known to live on land. That’s bigger than the 13.6-metre-long Carcharodontosaurus (not in any of the Jurassic Park films, in quite a lot of the videogames). Bigger than the boastfully named Giganotosaurus (not in any of the videogames nor films, but a core ingredient in the make-up of the Indominus Rex). And it was bigger than the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
In fact, the Spinosaurus animatronic that the late, great special FX genius Stan Winston and his studios created for Jurassic Park III was the largest, heaviest and fastest that he ever made. So big in fact, that the only way it could be transported to Universal Studios Stage 12, where the film was in production, was if it was delivered at night, so worried were the City Of Los Angeles that the vehicle carrying it would block traffic. As well as relentlessly pursuing the humans in Jurassic III, the creature even kills a T-Rex – in a nod to the great creature features of Ray Harryhausen — by snapping its neck. There’s a gag in the next film in the series, 2015’s Jurassic World, where the T-Rex smashes a Spinosaurus skeleton erected on Main Street. Finally, revenge!
Said Ivyor, “I like Spinosaurus, cause I like the look of that dinosaur and also he is a massive predator.”
Though we see it only three times in the movie in which it made its debut – 2015’s Jurassic World — the enormous aquatic lizard is an undisputed star in the two films that have comprised the series reboot. First, during the Mosasaurus Feeding Show we see the 60-footer breach the surface of its vast watery enclosure to consume a great white shark hanging from a hook. Later we see it gulp down a Pteranodon and swallow an InGen employee, Zara Young. And even later than that, we learn it’s still got space for supper, that being the Indominus Rex. Incidentally, there were originally plans for the Mosasaurus to debut in a Jurassic Park movie fourteen-years earlier; it’s since come to light that the third movie’s original script planned to reveal a Mosasaurus breeding tank. Still, better late than never…
LordTyranus1 was among those naming the Mosasaurus as their favorite, describing it as “an amazing creature.”
It’s another oddity concerning the series that the most common and dangerous predator to be found within the late Jurassic period hasn’t had anything approaching a starring role in any of the Jurassic Park films released to date. In fact, you don’t even get to see one – a real one, not one in toy shop, like what you might catch in the window of Main Street in 2015’s Jurassic World — until the stampede of Fallen Kingdom, and even then it’s taken out relatively quickly by a flying chunk of magma.
That all changed in late 2019, when Universal uploaded a surprise, ten-minute short entitled Battle at Big Rock, directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Emily Carmichael (both of whom are currently working on the third Jurassic World film, Dominion, due in 2021), which tells the story of dinosaurs and humans meeting in the wild for the first time. It’s set on a campsite, with a family trying to protect themselves from a grandiose battle between a family of Nasutoceraptops (making their debut) and one fevered Allosaurus that’s threatening to tear apart their caravan…
Said Dinosaurus1, at Fandom’s Jurassic Park wiki, of the Allosaurus, “Both the juvenile and adult designs are amazing, as well as their roars. They’re genuinely amazing and appealing to hear.”
Described by Fallen Kingdom’s nefarious auctioneer Gunnar Eversoll (played by Toby Jones) as ‘a living tank’, this armoured lizard doesn’t make an appearance proper in the series until 2001’s Jurassic Park III. And yet it features high in this list thanks to a colossal tussle that takes place with the Indominus Rex in 2015’s Jurassic World.
The Ankylosaurus of which we speak ultimately meets its end, being flipped onto its back and gored to death, but for a moment there it looked like being the creature most likely to bring down the freakish brute. In the real world, paleontologists are yet to find a complete Ankylosaurus, so there’s some dispute to exactly the form which they took. If you’re reading this in ten years and circumstances have changed – maybe they discovered the creature had a massive chin or something – then sorry.
The favorite of any child who ordered a McDonald’s Happy Meal in the mid-1990’s, there’s a few things we need to tell you about the Dilophosaurus. The spitting venom thing? Yeah, Spielberg and co made that up. The frill that rises around its neck when it’s about to attack? Yeah, they made that up too. The versions in Jurassic Park are also considerably smaller than the actual animals were too; it’s said Spielberg scaled the creatures down so as to make the Velociraptors look more impressive.
And yet, unless you’re Dennis Nedry, chances are you loved this essentially made up dinosaur. Bizarrely the Dilophosaurus (that’ll be ‘double crested lizard’) hasn’t been seen within the series after the classic first film. It appears as a Holoscape within Jurassic World’s Innovation Centre and you can hear the cry of one in the first moments of Fallen Kingdom – whereupon Eli Mills’ employee, Jack, is seen breaking into the ruined Jurassic World in order to sever a piece of the Indominus Rex’s skeleton. These though are mere teases. We’d like to hope that one of the series’ most coolest (if totally made up) species will be back proper someday.
On Fandom’s Jurassic Park wiki, Carnotaur praised the Dilophosaurus, explaining, “It’s really underrated, only having one appearance, and a sound cameo in JW: FK. While it may be down-sized, the almost docile look is has while interacting with Nedry was dark, but humorous. The design is one of my favorite with the dark greens, yellows, reds, and blacks, and having the frill. Just to add to it, you have the charming whistle, followed by the Demonic growl/hiss. I believe there could be much more done with the Dilo, just imagining some drawn-out scene with people in a large room, filled with a pack of full-grown, as well as juvenile animals; the Dilophosaurus makes the perfect horror Dinosaur.”
A few seconds of glassy-eyed Velociraptor precede it – “Shoot her! Shoot her!” – but the iconic sauropod is the first dinosaur Jurassic Park ever shows to us properly. The creature is a reappearing motif – a reminder of dinosaurs and their doomed glory — throughout the franchise’s five films. In Jurassic Park, Alan and Ellie see the creature feeding on leaves from a tree, then fall to the floor in amazement. In Fallen Kingdom, we see a brachiosaurus engulfed in fire and smoke, roaring in anguish, as the Arcadia pulls away from the doomed Isar Nublar. Turns out they’re the same animal!
“That’s the same Brachiosaurus we saw the first time,” revealed J. A. Bayona, director of the latter film, to Empire. “That’s the Brachiosaurus Alan Grant saw for the first time in Jurassic Park… and we’re bringing back even the same animation. If you take a look at the animation of the Brachiosaurus, it’s exactly the same one that you had in the wide shot of that scene!” There are many moments in Jurassic Park where the viewer is asked to stop and consider the incredulity of what they’re seeing. None more so than whenever the Brachiosaurus is filling up the screen.
Vital-Paarthunox makes a practical argument when naming the Brachiosaurus as their favorite, saying, “The Brachiosaurus because it’s less likely to start killing people if it escapes… I want the visitors to my Jurassic Park to actually enjoy their visit.”
Jurassic Park made the Velociraptor a superstar. Now a horror icon worthy of standing beside Freddy, Jason, Michael, the Xenomorph, Predator or Spielberg’s own ‘Bruce’ the shark from Jaws, only revisionists would suggest the creature had anything resembling a profile within pop culture prior to 1993. A regular in every film, every comic, every toyline and every videogame that’s had the Jurassic Park/World logo slapped on it to date, it’s unthinkable what the series might feel like if the Raptors didn’t hold such a pivotal role.
And yet, much like in the case of the aforementioned Dilophosaurus, serious liberties have long been taken with their presentation. Truth be told, we now know the Velociraptor looked much more like an angry cockerel than the scaly creature now forever imbedded in cinema history. The Velociraptor is now so far adrift from reality – consider ‘Blue,’ a Raptor turned Owen Grady’s sidekick, who frequently provides assistance to other humans – that it’s unlikely they’ll ever be pulled back to some semblance of realism.
Does this matter? Not really. This is a film franchise about the resurrection of long-dead species of dinosaur, after all. But we thought we’d let you know in case you’re basing your science homework on what you see in the movies.
The Velociraptor clearly has a ton of fans, and at the time this article is going live, is winning the poll at Fandom’s Jurassic Park wiki for favorite dinosaur. HisWolf2519 said, “Raptor, because they’re smart and know how to coordinate their attacks well,” while KrishiSreeni remarked, “Velociraptors were the most intelligent. This also made them able to understand complex emotions.” YoshiGaming12 meanwhile was all about Owen’s buddy, saying, “Velociraptor cuz Blue… Like, come on!”
1. TYRANNOSAURUS REX
It says something about the durability of the Tyrannosaurus rex that it can be centrifugal to some of the film’s most suspect moments – going rogue upon the streets of San Diego? Providing a Velociraptor with a blood transfusion? Teaming up with said Velociraptor, like participants in some kind of prehistoric buddy-cop movie, to take down the greater evil, the Indominus Rex? – and still come out on the top of our list.
Of course, the T-Rex had a profile within pop culture long before 1993. It is, arguably, the most famous real-life-based monster in all the world (even if it hasn’t been around for millions of years). And the impact of its first appearance midway through 1993’s Jurassic Park – the tremors on the surface of the water, the children’s eyes widening like saucers as the enormity of their situation dawns upon them, poor old lawyer Donald Gennaro served up on the toilet – remains one of cinema’s most beloved segments.
We touched upon this prior with talk of the Brachiosaurus – how every appearance by said creature is a constant reminder of the doomed glory and the persistent moral quandary that the reemergence of these magnificent animals the series poses. Well, even within a series that’s accelerated the popcorn-munching thrills and reined back on the big questions, with every film since 1993, each appearance of the T-Rex takes us right back to how we felt the first time we saw the ‘terrible lizard’ cock back its head and roar. Humble, amazed, frightened, excited, in awe; often all at once. King Of The Dinosaurs for sure.
Many on Fandom’s Jurassic Park wiki were joining the praise for the T-Rex, naming it as their favorite, with Jude Oundo saying, “The T-Rex, the apex predator of the franchise and the only one to match up to the Indominous Rex.” Said Lawrence Wong, “The T-Rex, because its big, fearsome and iconic all over the years.” Michael Benucci simply stated, “T-Rex. It’s my favorite dinosaur. It’s so cool and amazing.”
Want to chime in with your favorite Jurassic Park / Jurassic World dinosaur? Join the conversation on Fandom’s Jurassic Park Wiki!