Posts Tagged ‘Dinosaurs’

Olivia Perez’s face scrunched up as she stepped out of the modified armored truck, her boots sinking into the soft earth. Even after two days she hadn’t gotten used to the stench of the volcanic fumes that permeated from the volcano on the north end of the island. There was a low rumble and the ground shook slightly her as her teammate, Abraham Wheeling, joined her.  Unfortunately she knew that quake wasn’t due to the brachiosaur that had just crossed their path. It was because of the volcano that was ready to erupt at any moment.

“Come on, let’s make this quick,” Olivia said with some slight disdain in her voice.  Abraham nodded and the two entered a small building, that was crumbling and overgrown with vines and moss on the outside. It used to be one of the many gift shops at Jurassic World, but now it was a mere skeleton of its former self. Behind them the rest of Gamma team was fanning out into other buildings. The other truck carrying the paleo vet, the raptor trainer, Claire Dearing, and that other boy she couldn’t remember the name of had just pulled out to continue heading towards the bunker where they would access the tracking systems of the dinosaurs on the island.

All the rest of the teams were spread out across the island trying to capture other species of dinosaurs. Gamma team was responsible for checking the buildings of the old park for anything else that may be salvageable or important. Essentially, they were the “bitch” team on this endeavor.  Olivia had tried to make her case to Ken Wheatley, the expedition facilitator; she deserved to be on team Beta. They were covering what used to be the Gyrosphere Valley, tracking some of the larger herbivores. She had enough experience to deserve that much she felt. But he wouldn’t hear it, and actually moved her from Delta to Gamma. She should have just kept her mouth shut.

Olivia’s feet cracked on broken glass from shop windows that had long since shattered. The sound cut through the silence sharply. Stuffed animals and toys were scattered about, many torn to pieces and covered in dirt and mold. The building was dark and hazy, even in the middle of the day.  At the end of her rifle was a flashlight that she clicked on, and the beam cut through the shadows. Abraham did the same.

The two fanned out mechanically in the small store, one going to the left the other to the right. Olivia stepped carefully over fallen shelves and broken toys. Her breathing was even although she could feel her heart racing. This area wasn’t yet secure, and no matter how easy their particular job was supposed to be everybody on this expedition knew the risks they might encounter at any given moment. Bullets of sweat dripped down her face. God, it was hot as shit here. She heard the volcano rumble again. It’s gonna’ get a whole lot hotter, she thought.

“LOOK!” Abraham exclaimed from across the store. Olivia swiveled around quickly, gun raised and ready, only to see Abraham holding a seemingly mint condition Jurassic World toy. The dinosaur figure was in a box that looked like a cage. Olivia lowered her gun slightly, but her eyes drilled through Abraham. He noticed but didn’t seem to care. “We can go now, we got a dinosaur.”

“I think Lockwood is looking for dinosaurs more on the alive side,” Olivia said, unamused at the joke.

“Do you know how much this would go for though? A mint condition Jurassic World Carnotaurus figure? These things are rare as fu-“

“Probably not at much as the real thing. Now shut the hell up and keep looking.”

Olivia turned back around but heard Abraham stuffing the toy into his backpack. “I’m still taking it,” she heard him mutter. “And this too,” he added. “Katie will love it.” Abraham had gone on about Katie, his daughter nearly the whole way here on the Arcadia after the briefing. About how he had used to be a part of the Jurassic World ACU, and had brought his daughter here multiple times during his tenure. How much she loved dinosaurs, and how she was devastated when it closed. Olivia couldn’t care less.

“Why bring her a toy,” Olivia said, not even bothering to look back, “when you could buy the real thing when we get back?”

“Now that’s a good joke. Even with what they’re paying us I’d never be able to bid with the big dogs.”

Olivia smirked a little at that, but it was fleeting. She was pissed again that she wasn’t on a different team. If Alpha team caught that raptor, they’d be getting bonuses- Wheatley getting the most of all of course.

There was a distant rumbling again from the volcano. A toy pteranodon still hanging from the rafters swayed slightly among the cobwebs and vines. Olivia moved forward, walking behind the stores’ main checkout desk. Scattered papers and a Jurassic World Employee Manual lay next to one of the registers, covered in dust. She picked up some of the papers, trying to read them, but it was no use. She let them drop to the floor as she looked back up. As she turned around to head back to the main store area she noticed something on the wall. She brushed away moss and mold that covered it and realized it was a handle to a door that blended in to the wall. She used her fingers to find the crease of the door next to the handle and then used her flashlight to follow the crease all the way around. Yeah, definitely a door.

“Voy a ser condenado,” Olivia muttered to herself.

“Gamma C, sit rep?” her earpiece hissed suddenly. Olivia felt her heart skip at the sudden loud sound in her ear.

“We’re clear here,” Abraham said into his radio.

“Hold on,” Olivia said. “I may have something.” She heard Abraham walking over quickly. I found a door. Unsure of where it leads. We’ll try and get it open.”

“Copy that. Be careful, report in when you have something more.”

“Copy.”

“Must be the storage space! Nice.” Abraham asked.

“So, you’re saying it’s just more of this shit?” Oliva asked while making a brief nodding motion towards the store. “Then let’s keep moving.”

“No, wait! I mean, it’s probably just more of this but I don’t know for sure. Sometimes multiple buildings use the same storage space. There could be something useful inside.” Olivia gave him a doubtful look. “Hold on, let me try…” Abraham cut his sentence short as he took two steps back and then rammed the door with his shoulder, putting all his weight behind him. He gave a soft groan of pain afterwards and Olivia just stared at him.

“Puta estúpida,” she muttered under her breath as she calmly tried the door handle and the door opened easily. Abraham looked at her, face flushed. “None of the electronic locks work if the electricity isn’t on.”

Olivia opened the door wider and the two looked inside. A ramp led down to what was indeed a stock room that looked completely enclosed and quite large. It appeared to be about twice the size of the shop itself. Olivia glanced over at Abraham and immediately regretted even opening the door.

Like the store cobwebs hung everywhere and dust covered the shelves and floor. The air felt damp, and had the pungent smell of mildew and vermin urine. There was no light filtering into the space though; it was completely dark save for their flashlights attached to the end of their weapons and what little light filtered through the open door. Abraham quickly began walking down the ramp and Olivia followed.

“We found a storage room. A pretty big one,” Olivia said into her radio.

“Copy,” said the voice on the other end. “Anything useful?”

“Unsure. Probably not. Just looks like more useless shit.”

“Okay. Stay alert,” then there was a click and they were left in silence again. Olivia heard something scurry in the dark recesses of the space. It sounded small, whatever it was. She and Abraham exchanged looks to one another and continued forward.

The space had obviously been well organized when the park was in operation. But three years of abandonment had left it to become dirty and in disarray. A couple of the metal shelves had toppled over spilling boxes of stuffed dinosaurs across the floor. Many of them were torn to shreds, probably being used for nesting by whatever vermin were managing to get in here. There were a couple of boxes high up that read “Jurassic Crunch Bites.” Something had managed to chew its way through the box though, and flakes of cardboard candy boxes lay scattered with the torn stuffed animals.

“You take right, I got left?” Abraham suggested.

“Roger.”

Olivia carefully walked around one of the downed shelves, and the boxes that had spilled out from it. She scanned the space with her flashlight but already felt as if they were wasting their time with each second. There wasn’t going to be anything of importance here.

Her flashlight skimmed over a bird nest resting between two boxes on the shelves. She could see plush toy stuffing and box bits that had been used to make it. She could clearly make out the fossil rex head of the Jurassic World logo among the bits. Something about the irony of seeing that image in a bird nest itched at the back of her mind fleetingly before she decided he didn’t care and moved on.

Olivia could see Abraham’s light on the other side of the room, weaving in among the shelves. She could also hear him periodically trying to quietly rummage through some boxes. She scanned another shelf to her left. There was a box with a gaping hole in the side and she saw yet another bird nest inside. This one looked like it had at least three small eggs in it, off white with brown specks and markings on them. They were only about an inch or two-

There was a sudden metallic clang as her boot accidentally kicked something on the ground- a ventilation grate that had come off the wall. She examined it, and then looked at the wall. There was an open duct and she could feel a soft breeze flow through it. Well, she thought, this must be how the birds had gotten in. Debe ir afuera.  
She got to her feet once more and saw a couple more feet down was a massive metal double door. Next to it was another key pad, a large map, and several dolly carts. She walked quickly over to the doors and examined them.

To her right, the way she had come, a box toppled off one of the shelves. Olivia’s head snapped back, and she slowly began to raise her gun. Her eyes darted, trying to make out anything in the dim lighting. Something rustled against metal-

“You find anything?” Abraham said, directly behind her. Olivia whirled around, body tense. Abraham gave her a puzzled look, unaware of what had just happened.

“Jesus, don’t do that,” Olivia snapped.

“What was it?” Abraham said, his voice quiet. He now tried to peer past her in the direction she was looking.

“Probably nothing. But I found this,” she said pointing to the map.

“Oh yeah, that’s the tunnel system. It connects all major buildings in the park underground. Even go towards the dock. It’s how everyone received their resupply shipments without having to worry about guests seeing it go on. Disney does something similar I think…”

Cutting through the silence was a sudden low hum and several of the lights in the room began to flicker. Olivia saw the keypad next to the door light up also. With an audible popping sound several of the florescent lights burst and started spraying sparks. Accompanying the chaos was another louder bang, and the room was then plunged into darkness save for only the flashlights and one singular florescent in the back of the room that still flickered with some life.

“Shit,” Olivia said as she ran forward. Abraham was close behind her and nearly ran into her when she came to a sudden halt.

The door they had come through at the top of the ramp was now closed. Olivia sprinted up the ramp and tried opening it but it was no use, the door was locked.

Shit,” she said again.

“What happened?”

“The power is on again.”

“What, how?”

“It’s got to be alpha team – must be at the antenna. They had to start it up so Dearing could access the network to track the raptor it must have kicked on power everywhere.”

“Great,” Abraham said as he walked forward.

“Just, stay calm.” Olivia grabbed her radio. “Gamma leader, come in.” There was silence. “Gamma leader, we have a situation. Ove-“

“Yeah, copy. Gah- damn it! Get that thing back!” the voice on the other end said. Olivia and Abraham looked at one another. “Copy Perez. What’s the situation?”

“Well, it seems as though we’re locked in the store room we found, inside the main shop.”

“Great. It’s going to be a few minutes before we can get over there. We’re a little tied up at the moment with-” the last statement was cut off by the sound of an animal howling in distress, followed by men yelling. “Just sit tight. I’ll radio you when we’re on our way.”

There was a deep rumble, and Olivia could feel the room shake a little. The one light in the room swayed slightly. “Don’t make it too long team leader, I want to get off this damn island.”

“Copy. We’ll be there soon.” Then the radio went silent again.

Olivia sighed as she turned around. The single light was still swaying slightly, casting eerie shadows that moved in the room.

“Don’t remember seeing that when we first came in,” Abraham said. Olivia turned to see him looking towards the right corner of the room from where they were with his flashlight. There was a large stack of boxes all with red lettering on them that said:

            SOS 6/1/2015

            JURASSIC WORLD

            I_REX. PROMO

            T&G , Booklet

Abraham walked down the ramp towards them. Olivia didn’t move from her spot initially, and watched Abraham go towards the boxes. But when he opened the first box he came to and exclaimed “Holy shit,” she figured she didn’t have anything better to do than to see what was inside.

“I can’t believe this,” Abraham said as Olivia walked closer. In the distance of the room she thought she heard a skittering again of something moving in the darkness. She stopped for a moment and scanned the room, her eyes straining against the darkness. She was pulled back by Abraham’s overly excited sounds.

“What is it?”

“LOOK!” he said as he turned around, holding a toy box in his hands. Inside the box was a big white dinosaur figure. It looked almost like a tyrannosaur except that it had long arms, and a bony body with quills running down its neck and back. The monstrosities face was extremely hideous, with bony brow ridges, rows of pointed teeth, and a garish under bite.

“The Indominus rex.”

“Yeah! This is… damn, I didn’t even know we had these made. Wow.” Abraham continued rifling through the box pulling out more stuff. There was a small book that was entitled Mr. DNA Presents: Indominus rex!, what looked like an Operation type game where players had to extract DNA pieces from the board that was of the Indominus, and at least two more of the big figures.

Abraham pulled down another box marked:

             SOS 6/1/2018

             JURASSIC WORLD

             I_REX PROMO

             Shirts, Hats, Booklet

Inside were at least twenty folded t-shirts, more of the same book, and a couple of hats that had quills running down them, like the creature. Olivia lifted one of the shirts and looked at it. It was all black and peeking through the darkness was the horrible maw of the Indominus, just faintly visible. On the bottom it read, Monsters DO Exist. On the back it said Indominus rex, only at Jurassic World!

“Nobody, anywhere, has this stuff,” Abraham said. He opened up his bag and began shoving more of the merchandise inside. Olivia noticed it was already almost overly stuffed with merchandise.

She then scanned the rest of the boxes quickly. Nothing particularly stood out to her other than another bird nest that was resting at the very top of the stack of boxes. It was identical to the others she had seen with bits of debris and toy stuffing. It also contained four of the same small pale speckled eggs.

Abraham grabbed for another box, but as he stood up he brushed against the rest of the stack causing them to sway before finally toppling over.

“WATCH IT!” Olivia shouted, backing up. Abraham covered his head as the boxes fell all around him. When everything settled Olivia walked forward, moving the boxes off of Abraham. “Lucky these aren’t all that heavy.”

“Ah, damn it,” Abraham grunted heaving his body up. “Still hurt.”

Olivia examined Abraham for any signs of concussion, and didn’t notice anything alarming. “We should still probably get you checked out once we get back.” She helped Abraham to his feet. As she did she saw the nest that had been at the top of the boxes had fallen, the eggs inside smashed against the concrete.

As Abraham mumbled something as he collected his belongings, Olivia heard a soft hiss from above. She swung her head and her flashlight up just in time to see something dart away into the darkness again. Eso no se veía como un roedor. Abraham was still muttering to himself, obviously having missed the creature. She could hear the hissing again, coming from the darkness.

“Do you think we should bring-”

“Abraham.”

“Yeah, what?”

“Quiet.”

Abraham was about to ask why when he heard it too. He slowly got to his feet, abandoning his bag. Olivia cautiously pivoted her body from the left to the right of the room, the flashlight scanning the darkness. She hadn’t gone far before she saw a pair of small eyes glinting at her through the cobwebs between two shelves about seven feet away. She couldn’t see what kind of animal it was but at least it was small.

Olivia watched the eyes. They blinked, and then whatever it was jumped to the next highest shelf and continued staring. It didn’t even make a sound when it landed. Olivia saw the eyes move as the head cocked in the darkness and the animal chirped. The sound echoed slightly in the storage room. Finally the animal stepped forward and crouched on the very edge of the shelf, its beady black eyes never losing their focus. It was a small dinosaur, only about a foot or two tall. It was a dark green with light brown markings. It was… actually kind of cute? Olivia’s head snapped to Abraham, questioningly. His eyes were wide.

“Oh s-shit,” he stammered out. Olivia followed Abraham’s light until she saw them too.

On the top shelf of a unit next to the singular animal she had been watching sat four more of the same dinosaurs. They were all crouched on the edge, glaring at the two humans. When Olivia’s flashlight reached them one of them chirped, and another lowered its head slightly giving a soft hiss like a cat.

“What are they,” Olivia asked in a hushed voice.

“Compys.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“I… uh…”

“Simple question, come on!” she spat.

“It’s not a simple answer! Most of the time no, but- AH SHIT!”

Olivia saw Abraham wheel around and swat at his head. His light swirled around, and she noticed that the animals used the opportunity to disappear into the darkness again leaving puffs of dust billowing in the air.

“What?!”

“Something bit me! One of them jumped on me and bit my ear!”

“Let me see,” Olivia said examining Abraham’s ear. She could see the tiny little puncture wounds from the teeth, and blood just beginning to bubble up. “It’s not that bad. Suck it up.”

“Son of a bitch stings though. Gah, damn.”

In the recesses of the store room they could hear the chittering of the small creatures. Olivia grabbed her radio.

“Gamma leader, come in.” There was silence. “Gamma leader, this Perez. We need assistance ASAP.” Silence again. In the darkness chirps and squawks of the creatures seemed to be growing more agitated… and more numerous. Olivia kept swinging her flashlight around trying to find the creatures, but she’d see only shadows and brief blurs as the dinosaurs darted from hiding place to place. “Come on,” she said pulling Abraham after her. Abraham grabbed his gear as she tugged at him and the two began following the wall back towards the large door near the back of the room.

As they passed the shelves the noises seemed to follow them. Olivia looked around, straining her eyes in the dark. As her flashlight passed over the shelves she saw more and more of the tiny nests, all filled with eggs. How had they missed all of these?

Suddenly one of the small dinosaurs leapt out of the darkness screeching and landed in front of them. They stopped and watched the tiny creature as it just stood there on the ground hissing at them. It was almost comical, this singular animal standing off between two larger armed humans. Perez took a step forward, and reared back her other leg to kick the creature.

“Get out of-” but as she took the step closer toward the creature she saw nearly a dozen pair of small glinting eyes staring back at her a moment before a swarm of the small green dinosaurs leapt off the shelf and onto her.

The dinosaurs latched themselves on to her anyway they could. Their tiny claws were dug in to her clothing as they crawled around her body searching for exposed skin. One landed on her cap and she swatted it away. It held on to the hat as it fell, and another animal quickly took its place, burying its sharp claws into her hair and pecking at her scalp and ears. She could feel the dinosaurs nipping at her neck and face, their tiny teeth like razors to her skin. She tried to swat them away and cover her face as best she could. There were faint ripping sounds of cloth tearing followed by sharp pinches of pain on her legs and waist. Some of them had torn through her clothing already.

Between her fingers she the bright beam of a flashlight and then heard Abraham yelling as he rushed the creatures and the animals retreated. They chirped and squeaked as they disappeared into the darkness. Olivia looked down, and one animal had half buried itself into a large hole in her pant leg. She grabbed the creature tightly and yanked it out. She felt a searing pain, and when she lifted the animal up she saw a jagged piece of skin in its jaws. It squirmed in her hand before she threw it as hard as she could across the room.

“Christ, are you okay?” Abraham said. He pushed her back towards the wall. He tried to examine her but she shoved him off.

“I’m fine,” she snapped. Olivia’s scalp and face was on fire, as was her leg where she had been bitten. She lifted her hand up to her head. She could feel that it was damp. Lowering her hand she saw blood on her fingertips. “Let’s just get the hell out of here.”

“How?”

“Perez?” came a voice over the radio. There was a hiss of static and then “P-ez, – hat’s happening?”

“We got company in here,” she said. “The uh-,” she turned to Abraham. He talked into his own radio.

“Compys. We need help right away.”

“Repeat, please.” The voice said. “-ou said compys?”

There was a sudden rumble and then the building shook, violently. Olivia and Abraham braced themselves against the wall. The single flickering light overhead in the room gave way and shattered to the floor. They could hear a few shelves in the darkness topple over, and the dinosaurs chirping and howling noisily.

“Leader, we need assistance ASAP!” Abraham shouted. “We need to get out of here. Perez is wounded.” But there was nothing but static. “Shit.”

“Come on,” Perez said. She continued against the wall. She had hoped that the tremor would give the dinosaurs something else to focus on for at least a little bit. As the rumbling finally subsided she finally found what she was looking for. “Through here,” she said as she pointed to the open duct she had found earlier.

“You’ve got to be-” Abraham begin, before changing his mind. “Screw it, you first.”

Olivia would have protested if it wasn’t for a sudden wave of dizziness she was now feeling. She aimed the barrel of her weapon with the flashlight in first to make sure no creatures were waiting for them inside and then pushed her gun first. Then she got down on her stomach and started to army crawl through the vent. It was a tight fit but they’d be able to just make it. She heard Abraham say something but she couldn’t make out what it was.

Only seven feet into the duct and her head was swimming. She tried to calm her breathing but it didn’t help much. She felt warm blood trickle down her temple, mixing with her sweat and drip down her face. As she pulled herself along she could see multiple pairs of tiny three toed tracks in the dust of the vent.

“Abraham,” she said. Her voice echoed in the small space. “How are we doin’?”

“Just keep going,” he said. “Don’t stop.”  Faintly she could hear the chirping of the compsognathus behind them. She tried to speed up her crawling.

The light beam hit a wall up ahead and she noticed that there was a sharp turn in the duct. The breeze she had felt earlier was getting stronger. When she reached the turn she contorted her body uncomfortably to the bend, and the movement made her feel the bites all over her body again. She heard Abraham yelp.

“Abraham!?”

“It’s fine just go!”

Olivia couldn’t maneuver enough to look back. She shoved her gun ahead and clawed at the walls to help her move around the turn. When she was finally able to straighten out she looked ahead and saw the opening. It was covered with a grate. There was a small hole at the bottom which must have been how the animals were getting through.

As Perez reached the grate she could hear Abraham’s grunts as he was rounding the turn. The sounds of the animals were also getting louder. She peeked through the thin spaces of the metal grate. Beyond the walls and floor was concrete and it seemed to be pretty spacious. She assumed it was the tunnel just beyond the big double doors. She wanted to wait a moment and see if any other animals were there, but Abraham cursed loudly behind her and she decided they’d deal with whatever happens next. They needed to get out of here. She started hitting at the corners of the grate with the butt of her gun.

“Hurry it up, Perez!”

“I’m trying!”

“Get it open- OW!” Abraham shouted. Olivia could hear Abraham kicking his legs against the metal duct. The sound mixed with the rattling of the metal grate and the angry squawks of the small dinosaurs rang in her head.

The grate finally gave way and she heaved herself out of the opening. She stood up, her legs shaky as she did so. She quickly scanned the space, seeing a med kit box on the wall along with a phone. A few feet down were the big double doors. She was right, this was the tunnel.

Abraham was how howling in pain as his hands finally clawed me through the opening. Olivia grabbed them and pulled him through. Compys were latched on to his legs, tearing and biting at them. As Abraham tried to get the dinosaurs off of himself Olivia threw the grate back on the opening of the vent. As she did one of the dinosaurs ran up and bit her hand. Olivia cursed and bashed its head against the side of the wall, killing the small animal. She pressed the grate over the opening. Inside she could see a swarm of the small dinosaurs all creeping their way.

“The med kit! Get a flare!” Abraham shouted as he finally got the last dinosaur off of his body.

Olivia was puzzled for a moment and then remembered the mid kit on the wall. She ran to it. Inside along with bandages and other supplies was a large red emergency flare. She understood. Olivia picked it up and ignited it. A brilliant bright red flame exploded forth and she then quickly tossed it into the grate and put the cover in front of it again. The animals inside squeaked in alarm and she could hear their tiny feet scatter back down the vent away from the bright light.

Olivia let out a long sigh and turned. As she did, she felt dizzy again and stumbled slightly. She went back to the medical supplies and pulled everything she could from it.

“Come on,” she said. “We need to move farther down.” She helped Abraham to his feet, and he took a sharp breath as he stood up. She could see that his pant legs had been torn to shreds on the lower half, and what remained was dripping with fresh blood. She also noticed that he no longer had his weapon. She grabbed hers and the two headed down the tunnel.

The tunnel was lit by yellow bulbs every twenty feet or so. Overall it wasn’t as high tech looking as the rest of the island. They had only gone about sixty yards before she was exhausted.

“I’ve gotta’- ” she began before she almost collapsed. Her grip on Abraham loosened for a second and he slipped to the floor.

“GAH, damn it!”

“Sorry.”

“No no. It’s fine. It just…”

“Let me see.”

She lifted the remains of his pant legs and saw small gaping slashes and bites all over. There were several spaces where chunks of flesh had been completely torn away. They weren’t bleeding horribly, but enough. Mixed with the blood was a foamy substance… saliva. She immediately grabbed the alcohol wipes from the med kit and began cleaning them. Abraham howled in pain.

“What the hell are those things?”

“Compys… they’re…well, there’s something in their saliva. Serotonin. We were told in ACU training that in small numbers they aren’t dangerous. They don’t want to attack anything seemingly dangerous. But piss them off, or get a big group and you’ve got a problem.”

Olivia looked up. She could still see the red light of the flare in the vent, but she could now faintly hear the creatures again. “I think we’ve definitely got a problem.”

Abraham laid, breathing deeply now as she bandaged his legs. He barely even winced anymore. Olivia’s head started swimming again. She rolled up her pant leg and examined the bites she had. As she started to clean them she looked up, and watched as the red light finally disappeared in the vent. Her eyes went wide.

“Abraham.” He groaned. “Abraham, get your ass up.”

“I can’t. I just need to sleep for a second.”

“We don’t have a second! They’re coming. We need to go, now!”

At that there was a sudden loud clanging sound and Olivia looked up to see the swarm of compsognathus spilling out of the vent and running their way.

“Abraham! Come on!” She pulled him to his feet and he made another groan in protest. She had only dragged him a couple feet when the first animal hopped onto his shoulder and bit into his cheek. Olivia tried to swat the creature away, but another one had hopped up and bit onto her hand causing her to drop Abraham. The creature held on to her arm, curling itself around her wrist as it yanked at her skin with its tiny razor teeth. She shook her arm back and forth until the creature loosened its grip and jumped off. That’s when Abraham’s screams filled the tunnel.

Olivia turned to see Abraham writing on the ground and screaming as the dinosaurs completely covered his body. They squawked and tore at his flesh and clothing. Olivia saw one take a bit into the soft flesh of his neck. She was about to try to intervene when a group of the animals started hopping her way and hissing. One of them landed extremely close and she kicked it with all her might, hoping it would scare off the others. It didn’t. Instead more were now advancing, and behind them Abraham’s screams were becoming more like quiet whimpers.

Olivia turned and ran with all of the strength she could muster. Behind her the creatures were chirping and squawking. She didn’t look back to see how many were following her. She couldn’t look back. She was dizzy enough as it is, and if she turned her head it could cause her to lose her balance.

Adrenaline coursed through her system propelling her forward as she rounded a turn. There was a distant rumble sound, and then the ground shook again.

“No!” Olivia shrieked. The lights in the tunnel flickered and then everything went dark, save for her flashlight. She tripped and fell to the ground, skidding across the concrete and hitting her head. She heard a shattering sound and as she opened her eyes she saw the light from her flashlight flickering faintly.  She raised herself to her elbow and grabbed her weapon. She aimed it down the corridor.

In the flickering light she could see the eyes of the dinosaurs as they stalked her way. Their excited calls to one another echoed in the darkness. Olivia Perez gritted her teeth and began firing her weapon in the direction of the animals. A short moment later the light went out and she was left in darkness as she started screaming.

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There are lots of people and things that can affect your life but very few will ever change is. The Paleontology Program at the Burpee Museum of Natural History has changed my life, in the most amazing ways possible.

 

I remember being thirteen in 2005 and being so excited to visit the museum to see Jane, their juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. I’ve been a dinosaur/paleo enthusiast since I was two years old and was really amped to see this important specimen. When we walked up to the main desk I saw a brochure for volunteering on summer expedition with the Burpee to the Hell Creek. I snatched one up, and knew right then that I had to go on this dig.

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Myself (in the orange) on my first dig in 2007

The next two summers I saved up money from various jobs and in 2007 at fifteen years old I went on my first dig with the Burpee, and it was the best choice I ever made. I was so excited when I reached Camp Needmore, ready to tackle the coming week and looking forward to this new experience. After years of reading books and watching documentaries I’d finally be in the action.

 

It is now nine years later, and I have just returned from Utah where I was on my sixth expedition with the Burpee. Over the years I have worked my way up from volunteer, to intern, and now these past four weeks I was actually an officially employed field assistant. I remember during my first few digs how I’d watch Scott Williams, Josh Matthews, Katie Tremaine, and the other leaders teaching the volunteers, telling personal stories, and generally being a unit. I am now a part of that unit. I’m helping with the teaching and prep during the digs. Their stories are now my stories. I am a part of their family.

 

Beyond my growth within the Burpee itself, without the Paleo Program I would not be where I am today. It’s because of the Burpee that I ended up going to Augustana College (IL)- where I met many of my closest friends, and had other important life experiences. It’s because of the program and people involved that I’ve had the jobs I’ve had, and my life is on its current trajectory. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people like Scott, Katie, and Josh.

Also, because of the Burpee Paleo Program and related events (like PaleoFest) that I’ve made incredible connections. I’ve met and talked with some of the top scientists like Jack Horner, John Foster, Phil Currie, Kristina Curry Rogers, and many more; I’ve had dinner, joked, and shared drinks with Mark Goodwin, Brian Switek, Eugenia Gold, and Mike D’Emic; I’ve sat and dug literally next to Jim Kirkland, and Thomas Holtz! Many of these people are paleo giants that I idolized growing up. I never thought I’d ever meet them let alone dig alongside them.  Yet here I am, doing exactly that all because of Burpee’s Paleo

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Thomas Holtz at the Burpee Ninja Turtle site in Montana. I’m behind the camera, trying not to scream.

Program.

 

I have learned so much about the science, personal work ethic, and (as corny as it sounds) myself because of this program. It has been invaluable to me as an individual.

It’s incredible to see how the Burpee has helped advance the science. Some of the most important papers and research in the last decade have ties to Burpee either by using their specimens, presenting it at PaleoFest, or from help/collaboration with the staff.

Since my first time going to the Burpee in 2005 I have been able to see the museum grow into a completely different entity mainly because of the Paleo Program. I’ve seen great new additions, including Homer’s Odyssey and many great traveling exhibits like African Giants, Megalodon, and Savage Ancient Seas. I’ve witnessed some of the best paleo symposiums ever including this past year’s Women in Paleontology PaleoFest. I’ve seen the Paleo Program strive to have new forms of outreach and education like attending Comic Cons, giving guided tours at dig sites, and hosting different family oriented events.  I’ve been able to see new people grace the museum’s halls and I’ve seen kids come back each year to events or digs and grow as individuals, exactly like me.

 

My life has forever been changed and I can’t imagine it without the Paleo Program or the individuals involved like Scott, Katie, and Josh. I owe a lot to them, their hard work, and their dedication. They are great mentors, scientists, and friends.

 

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From right to left: Scott Williams, Steven Landi, Josh Mathews, Eugenia Gold, Katie Tremaine, and myself.

 

 

Allosaurus vs. Ceratosaurus

I have always had a very active imagination. As a child, one of my many outlets of creativity was playing with toys. Now, lots of children play with toys- that is not new. But I didn’t just play with them, I created stories and adventures with them that sometimes lasted several hours at a time. My favorite toys were (and this probably comes as no surprise) my Jurassic Park figures and playsets. As I’m sure many of you realize by now, Jurassic Park is my favorite franchise of all time and has been since I was two years old and saw that film on the big screen (yeah, I still remember some moments of that, but that’s a story for another time.) With these toys I would often pop in my VHS copies of the movies and then get out every single figure I had and play through the entire film, scene by scene, with them. I would lower my head so that I would replicate and match the angle on screen. Then, when I would finish with the films I would create my own Jurassic adventures, creating whole stories of peril and survival then playing them out with the toys in my living room

One of my very first dios

One of my very first dios

(much to my parents dismay I’m sure.) Humans often running away from the ferocious dinosaurs created by InGen, many of which not running away quick enough. Ironically enough, the story line I most often recreated with my figures was Jurassic Park finally being opened to the public.

In 2003, I believe, we moved out to the Malone family farm outside of Kempton, IL. A year or so before my family had purchased our first home computer and I was introduced to something amazing: the internet. And on this internet I quickly realized that there were other people out there just as passionate about Jurassic Park as I was. One group of people was those found on the forum site JPToys. There, collectors and JP enthusiasts gathered to talk about the franchise as well as the toys that I had grown so fond of. But in being introduced to these people I slowly began to realize something: that these toys had value outside of just sentimental. These weren’t just toys any more but actual collectors’ items, and really expensive ones at that.

Still early in my dio career. I used a sparkler and placed it behind the fence and lit it right before I took the image to get the effects of the sparks.

Still early in my dio career. I used a sparkler and placed it behind the fence and lit it right before I took the image to get the effects of the sparks.

You want to know how expensive? Just go to eBay and look. I was inspired by others on the site to take pride in my collection and show it off in my room. On top of that I was introduced to “dios.” Members of JPToys would take their figures outside and set up scenes with them and take pictures. It reminded me of the images on the back of the boxes of the JP toys, and I was instantly hooked. One year my parents bought a digital camera for the family for Christmas and I latched on to it the following summer and took pictures left and right. Art has always been another passion of mine, and this was defiantly art to me.

I used the Dino Valley spinosaur and actually used white gas to make flames. I dug a trench around the figure and poured the gas and then lit it. It was inspired by the final spino scene in JP3

I used the Dino Valley spinosaur and actually used white gas to make flames. I dug a trench around the figure and poured the gas and then lit it. It was inspired by the final spino scene in JP3

I did this for several years during the summer months, but as I got older my “dio” making began to dwindle. I was becoming incredibly self-conscious and was

reminded several times by some people that I was a young man, just playing with toys. I’ve generally always prided myself in not caring what people think about me. I mean… it’s kind of a fine line actors and artists need to walk down. But I cared what people thought about this. I was soon going to be heading to college, and while there are plenty of people who collect figures and such who are older I was thinking that perhaps it was something that I shouldn’t do.So near the end of my high school career and in to college I had completely abandoned dio making. My art blossomed in other mediums. Writing defiantly became a facet for me, and I focused my photography on other subjects that interested me.

Then, about halfway through my college career, I took a digital imaging class with Professor Christian Mortenson at Augustana (IL.) He taught us to really go out there with our photography and try and capture things that spoke to us and to really make our own voices be heard on our projects. Find subjects and places that were unique. So, on a whim, I asked my mom to go through my figures (which I had, by then, packed away in large plastic boxes in the attic) and ship a few to me. She did, and then I took those figures around campus and took images.  And they weren’t all dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. Some were of Batman and the Joker and at least one was of the WolfMan. With

Sulfur Field

“Sulfur Field”

a lot of my early work I just went out with the figures and snapped pics, but for this project I really focused on angles and getting the lighting correct and making scenes look natural. It reminded me of when I was a child, playing with the toys in my front room and trying to captures those angles from the film. I brought these images to class, and I remember Chris being fairly impressed. He joked that the Batman and Joker one reminded him of two people cos-playing, and that the dinosaur images looked really natural and realistic- like from a documentary. I welcomed those comments with open arms, but then just sat on the images. I did nothing with them.

Later that year though there was a submission call for art for Augustana’s literary and art magazine- SAGA. I actually went Clever Girlthrough some of my older images and sent one of my early dios that still really resonates with me: a

tyrannosaurus hunting a pair of pachycephalosaurs through a “sulfur field.” The field itself is just a post-harvest corn field and I added the fumes in through PhotoShop. Weeks later I was contacted by the magazine and informed that my image had been selected to be published. My senior year I sent in a few more for thatMosasaurus SAGA mag and they were accepted as well and it was slowly beginning to dawn on me. My photos, my “geeky” toy photos were actually liked by people. People enjoyed looking at them. And not just JP fans, or comic fans. My peers were coming up and telling me what they thought of the images and how they liked them. More important than any of that acceptance though… it made me feel good. Just taking the pictures felt good. Going out, location scouting, and finding that perfect place and position for the figure and then figuring out the lighting felt right. It was fun, and it was a way to escape.

It still is. Today I’m having a resurgence in dio photography. I can attribute at least a part of it being because of the release of Jurassic World, but it’s also because it’s something I find a lot of joy in doing. I live close to a forest preserve and I will take a duffle bag of figures and sets there and spend hours setting up scenes and taking images. Yes, I get a weird looks from time to time but I genuinely do not care. I do think that college and allowing myself to grow as an artist really rex Pursuit helped with that, but also allowing myself to be more connected with my work is a major part. Also, I am realizing that I have a style when it comes to this type of photography and I am attempting to apply that to film projects I make. Setting up these scenes and moments really allows me to think like a director as well as a DP, and it has helped a lot I feel. I’m becoming more daring with some of the shots and angles I take, and sitting down and planning out each and every shot and doing multiple takes of each one. Being this type of micro photographer is helping me become more versatile.

I don’t know if anything will actually come out of my photography. Maybe someday. I’ve had a few people tell me they’d love a coffee table book of these images. My DeviantArt account has never been more alive and active, and I’ve been debating on Brachiosaurus and Gyrospherehitting up a few craft and art fairs with these images. I’m still not certain tCarnotaurus Capturehat there is an actual [paying] audience for these images, but really that’s not the point at all. You do art because you need to. It’s a part of you, and this type of photography is very much a part of me. It’s therapeutic, and fun. It allows my mind to race with creative scenarios and scenes, and at times tests my capabilities. I’m constantly growing because of it. I’m a twenty-three year old man who still actively plays with toys… and I’m damn proud of it.

Brian Switek and Julius Costonyi are some of the best people at what they do. Brian being a passionate writer of things dealing with the field of paleontology and Julius being an absolutely gifted artist. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of meeting both of these gentlemen over the years, as well as working with Brian in the field at the Burpee Museum‘s Utah dig site in 2014. When I found out earlier this year that they had collaborated together on a book I was ecstatic and knew right away that, children’s book or not, it would be something worth picking up. Finally, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Prehistoric Predators!

Now, judging from the cover one might assume that the book may only deal with predators of the Mesozoic- which is not the case at all. This book actually has five chapters: Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic.

The book begins with a great introduction, explaining briefly the history of predatory animals on earth as well as giving us a nice  breakdown of the periods on the right hand side (and when dealing with the Cenozoic it even goes down to the Epochs, a pretty rare and welcomed addition for a children’s book!) All of the periods and epochs have year ranges associated with them so that when you read the rest of the text and, for example, you see that Linheraptor lived between 84 and 75 million years ago you can flip to this key and pin point the period that it would belong to.

This book highlights over 40 different predators, but there are far more animals included in this text (come on, you can’t have a book about predators without including their prey!) Each chapter opens up with a description of what is going on during this time in history- how the earth is changing, what new species are evolving, notable extinctions, etc.

The meat of the book are the species highlights. In general it is laid out like an average guide book to the various species. You get the name, followed by how you pronounce it, the age of the creature, a physical description, and ending with a little “Scientific Bite”- a kind of blurb or random bit of information about the creature. Accompanying the facts of the creatures there is also usually a paragraph describing the illustration on the page: what is happening, and what exactly you are seeing. They also include information on current knowledge about the species you are looking at.

While at first glance you may think that this book is set up like most other children’s dinosaur books, it isn’t. The small picture accompanying discretion tend to offer a lot of valuable information on current research and theories in the field of paleontology. Also another MAJOR inclusion is the fact that all of the highlighted animals have their species name! This is something that is hardly ever in children’s dinosaur books! When I was younger I would have given anything for a book to include the species names. It’s a great addition, and one I’m glad they put in. It’s one of the main things, for me, that really helps separate this book from others like it on the market. They unfortunately don’t include the scientific in the pronunciation part on each fact bubble, but that’s only a minor complaint.

Within each chapter there is a great range of animals from each time period. We obviously are going to get well known animals like Velocriaptor, Spinosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus rex (seriously, it’s pretty much sacrilegious to not include that trifecta now in nearly any dinosaur book.) But there is also a great array of animals not commonly presented. Animals like Eocarcharia, Masiakasaurus, and Guanlong get some really good pages in this book- among many others. Also, Therizinosaurus gets a page in this book- in a “predators” book! I think that’s so awesome. because it’s often not clumped together with theropods because the common thinking is that they are omnivores/mainly herbivores (it was completely skipped in my dinosaur class in college because of that reason.) I don’t know, maybe authors tend to think it’s hard to discribe a theropod that isn’t strickly a carnivore. Not Switek though.  He and Csotonyi present it like a pair of bosses and then continues on with the book. I love the fact that it’s included in this text.

While the information presented is absolutely fantastic, the artwork is the real selling point. Julius Csotonyi’s artwork jumps off the pages at you to give you goosebumps. He presents all of the prehistoric animals in this book with such life that sometimes you swear you’re looking at a photo. All at the same time he’s including current scientific theories about each of these animals as well as his own artistic spin. These images are so detailed that you could spend countless time looking at one of the landscapes and still be catching new details. The images are incredibly dynamic, and full of atmosphere and emotion. The Dimetrodon with a ripped sail. The Suchomimus fishing. The Giganotosaurus. The Deltadromeus. All of these are so rich in how they are presenting individual stories, it’s breathtaking. And good God I need a mural of that Jurassic storm scene with the Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

While there are no flaws at all in the artwork (or really in this book at all for that matter) I do think it’s interesting to note that on the introduction page we get a great image of a Tyrannosaurus rex. If you turn to page 63 in the book you can see that the same base image was used to make the Daspletosaurus. Not a critique at all, in fact it’s pretty common for this kind of thing to pop up in books. Artwork gets edited, and refined. Besides, T. rex and Daspletosaurus are related and look similar. It’s not like they took a rex and added a sail to it and called it Spinosaurus.

Overall Prehistoric Predators is an incredible book with some great information, and amazing artwork. It lacks a lot of the more graphic scenes you come to expect in a lot of predatory based dinosaur books (even for kids,) and the information is easy to read and comprehend- making it a great book for younger dinosaur enthusiasts. While older paleo-lovers may want a little more on the side of reading and facts, they are sure to be thrilled with what in-depth information is there, the inclusion of some lesser known prehistoric animals, as well as they very inspiring art work.

It’s a great book for ages young and old, and defiantly worth getting at first sight!

Prehistoric Predators is published by Applesauce Press and is available online and in book stores now, with a list price of $19.95.

Capture copy

1by ELIZABETH GELMAN /AP

Guests to the Jurassic World theme park were evacuated late Friday night after many of the parks animals suddenly escaped from their enclosures.

While it’s only been a few days since the horrific incident at the five star resort, the lawsuits are already accumulating quickly. Most of the park was successfully evacuated, but unfortunately not before several hundred of the guests were injured, or killed. Many guests are still missing, and the death toll is still being counted. Among those dead is Jurassic World owner Simon Masrani, who was killed in a helicopter crash while trying to contain one of the escaped “assets.”

“This is a horrific event,” stated Masrani Global Vice President Edward Regis. “We are doing everything in our power to offer aid to our visitors and to get this situation under control.”

Many of the evacuated guests and staff are still being held in Costa Rica for questioning and evaluations but should be released in the next few days.

The official comment from Masrani Global regarding the escape of the animals was “it’s under investigation.” However, some guests claim to have heard rumors of a large predator of some kind being the cause.

“I saw it,” said Jurassic World guest Ed James. “Some freaky thing, I can’t describe it. But I was on the monorail back to hotel and I saw this big  creature crash into the aviary and soon after the pterodactyls or whatever just started flying out of the dome. They attacked a helicopter, and then started flocking towards the park. It was chaos.”

While Masrani Global seems to be keeping face about wanting to get the situation under control and the park running again, stocks are already beginning to drop. Since Saturday stock in the company has dropped from 139.18 to 78.25, and guests who have pre-purchased tickets are demanding refunds. It’s a trend seen before by the company, and what led to InGen filing for Chapter 11 in 1997 after the incident in San Diego involving an escaped Tyrannosaurus rex.

“I just don’t know how this happened,” park guest Deborah Holland said, nursing a broken arm. “How could they let this happen? After what happened before, you’d think they would have known better and been able to prevent a catastrophe like this.”

We’ll keep you updated on Jurassic World news as it comes in, including the upcoming U.N. meeting regarding the incident.

“Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “Jurassic Park ///”, “Jurassic World” are Trademarks of Universal Studios, Legendary Pictures, and Amblin Entertainment.

Based off Characters Created by Michael Crichton and Scott Ciencin.

                                                                      Universal Pictures

I’ve now seen Jurassic World three times, and have enjoyed it every time. It’s a fun thrill ride of a film, and now is the film with the second highest grossing weekend at the box office of all time!  While I really enjoyed the film and think it’s a great addition to the franchise, there are some thoughts and questions that have been keeping me up at night that I had along the way while watching it.  I thought that maybe I’d highlight a few of them here.

1.) The opening is awesome and a nice homage to Alien I feel… but I really would have liked a flashback for the opening instead I think. All of the JP films have great prologues and I feel like it would have been cool to see some of the post-1993 incident clean up or even the recapture of the rex or something.

2.) The bird in snow shot is wonderful, and is actually the only reference we get to the dino-bird relationship in the whole film.

3.) Okay, JW is open and it looks spectacular- everything I would want and expect in a Jurassic Park. But why? I mean, know why because I followed the online marketing but it’s not actually explained in depth in the film past John Hammond willing JP to Masrani. Last time we saw Hammond he had gone from “capitalist to naturalist” and was more concerned about protecting the animals. Now he thinks the park is a good idea again? Also… after all the incidents and deaths of the three previous films combined, how did they actually convince anybody that this would be a good idea again?

4.) The I. rex introduction is amazingly perfect.

5.) The innovation center is breathtaking. It’s like the Discovery Center at Islands of Adventure on digital roids.

6.) I actually don’t mind the raptor training at all… but why breed them in the first place. Even if they are for this military experiment who thought it was a good idea to take the most dangerous, human hating animals created at JP? The animals that are responsible for the most deaths in the series, and try and train them. Did anybody think that maybe, for once, you shouldn’t breed raptors?

7.) Why is the rex CGI? Also, I wish I could have seen more Jurassic World carnivores in captivity other than the  rex (albeit briefly,) and raptors.

8.) I feel like it’s now a statistic for kids of divorcees to end up on Isla Nublar or Isla Sorna. That should be in an ad: “Our park is sure to make your kids forget about your separation, because they’ll be too busy running from dinosaurs!”

9.) Speaking of Sorna… what the hell happened to it? They are acting, once again, like Nublar is the factory floor (like they did in the original film.) Is there nothing going on on Sorna? Or is it just so overrun by dinosaurs that they were like “screw it, we only need the one island” ?

10.) Zach is probably a bigger dick than any other human villain in the JP series.

Universal Pictures

11.) Mosa is awesome. Period.

12.) We really haven’t seen all of I. rex yet so when her actual reveal happens I really would have wished they did more of the JP rex full reveal and roar from the first film rather than I.rex suddenly blocking Owen’s escape and we only see half of her. It’s like they can’t decide if they want to show us I. rex or not.

13.) Why not have a access door at… both side of the paddock for people?

14.) The moment where I. rex searching for grady is super suspenseful and well done. Plus the I. rex looks beautiful.

15.) Petting zoo is cute and the riding of the baby trike is a nice reference to a cut scene from the first film and the novel.

16.) I’s so glad Wu is back. All of his scenes in this film are gold- mainly because it follows his character from the novel to a T.

17.) I’m already kind of “done” with the amount of comedy in the film. It’s just a personal thing, although I realize that they need to offset the amount of violence in the film. But does every film have to be so “funny” now? Age of Ultron had the same issues. I get some of it, but a lot is unneeded and out of character for some. It makes me really happy they cut the poop scene with Claire later.

18.) The moment when Claire walks in to control and everyone is quiet is awesome. Wish there were more moments like that in the film. It’s really effective.

19.) The I. rex coming out of hiding via camo is one of the most amazing things I have seen in the JP series, and something I’ve been waiting for since Crichton’s The Lost World. Also, the moment it takes out the ACU unit is a great nod to Aliens.

20.) Also, love the blood on the wrist. “Which way is the drop going to roll off?”

21.) Yay! Fallon mention’s dilophosaurs! So… wait, they’re in Jurassic World? Why haven’t we seen them yet!?

22.) The gyrosphere ride is awesome, and leads to a great “It’s a dinosaur” scene.

23.) Why are the stegos nearly dragging their tails here but weren’t earlier on when they were at the river?

24.) I’m going to assumed I. rex broke the gate open that the boys enter the restricted zone through… but if so, why is the I. rex still in the jungle and not rampaging through the valley yet towards the park?

Universal Pictures

25.) The I. rex looking at the boys ala JP rex style should have been a practical effect…

26.) Dying apatosaur scene is a near tearjerker. It’s seriously right up there with the sick trike from JP.

27.) Old park scene(s) = BEST moments in the whole film. Just wish we could have stayed there longer. How did the boys end up here anyway? Also… why is the norther side of the island “restricted” if it seems like any ol’ JW employee can trounce around there at any time? Are there supposed to be wild dinosaurs around? What haven’t we seen any? And if so is that what killed the JW worker whose helmet Gray finds, or was that supposed to be I. rex again?

28.) AH! Pterosaur beak killing ACU. GREAT reference to he cut final sequence of The Lost World.

29.)  Masrani dies and it’s sad… but still would have liked to had more time to get to know him. It’s not as sad as if, say, Hammond was to have died in the first film. Also… the trailers totally ruined it.

20.)Why do the pteros look so different… again?

21.) Jesus, what are these pteros MADE OF!?

22.) I can deal with almost everything these pteros can do except for it lifting a baby trike off the ground. Cool shot but… no.

23.) The pteros diving through the water is actually probably one of the coolest things they do in the film.

24.) Zara’s death is OVERKILL. Man, I mean she wasn’t a horrible person. Also the mosa’s appearance seems kind of the same as the one we’ve gotten before.

25.) Why are Owen and Claire kissing? Pteros… still flapping around everywhere. Not really the time or place.

26.) You’re going to tell me they tranquilized all the pterosaurs? All of them?

27.) It gets dark fast in Jurassic World.

28.) Really wanted Claire to either punch Hoskins instead or after Owen.

29.) Raptors turning on humans is probably one of the best moments in the whole film. It’s scary and is a really great mixture of the tall grass scene and Muldoon’s death. Also a little bit of Aliens thrown in again.

30.) YEAH, ROCKET LAUNCHER! Just like the novel. Man, I’m loving all these small nods to Crichton’s work.

31.) Okay, so Wu is cool using dinos for military. He wants to innovate because God complex. I get it. But damn it, now we’re going to be wondering what happens with those embryos now.

32.) Still… no BioSyn.

33.) Really Hoskins wasn’t a bad guy, he just makes some seriously bad judgement calls and is a dick. His intentions are good though. … … Still loved his death though.

34.) You know… we never do find out everything that is in I. Rex.

35.) YAY! DILOPHOSAURUS!!!

36.) Blue siding with Owen all of a sudden reminds me of Hiccup and Toothless…

Universal Pictures

37.) Rexy emerging from the darkness is AWESOME AS HELL.

38.) Epic final fight is epic. Although they missed a chance to have it in the rain.

39.) Pretty sure Colin Trevorrow, when shooting the last scene, had a Spielberg JP moment and said “I think the star of  this movie is the mosasaur” then threw it in as the one being heroic and killing I. rex. Because… let’s be honest. Rexy and Blue were gonna have their hides handed to them.

40.) Okay, totally get animals teaming up to take out a common threat- okay. But I really REALLY think the rex should have roared/chased Blue away instead of having that “good job bro” look at each other. I mean, at one point Blue uses Rexy as a springboard to pounce on the I. rex. That means her claws dug into Rexy’s back… I’d be pissed. Those claws are sharp- as the scars on Rexy’s neck can attest to. Her chasing Blue away would have saved us that Owen nod to Blue as well…

41.) Also unless you saw the scars and put two and two together and/or followed the marketing for the film you would totally not realize that this was the same rex from the first film. There should have been a scene explaining it or showing her recapture. Also, wish more of her was practical effects instead of CG.

42.) I really don’t like the love story. At least I don’t like a lot of the moments that involve it. I would have much rather Owen and Claire looked at each other like Ellie and Alan do in the end of JP that the whole “for survival” bit.

43.) Yeah, I see some straggling pteranodons. Who’s gonna keep them from getting off the island? Also… once again, unless you follow the marketing for the film you wouldn’t know what happened to the pteros at the end of JP3.

44.) Epic emotional final shot is epic and really emotional.

The park is open! Run, to go see Jurassic World in cinemas now!

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Fourteen years. Fourteen years of a constant up and down, “it’s happening” then “it’s dead” from those who brought to life this film series to fruition. Fourteen years of waiting for the next film, and then finally it’s released. Words can’t express how excited I was for this film to come out. The last time I was this amped up was when The Dark Knight was released in 2008.  And after months of build up from one of the most intensive marketing/viral marketing campaigns in recent history (which is actually continually happening throughout the films release right NOW,) the park was finally opened to an anxiously awaiting public. I sat with friends in that cinema, and when the lights went out I could feel my heart beat faster, and when it began I allowed myself to be transported back to Isla Nublar once again in Jurassic World.

It’s twenty two years since the closure of the original Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar. Twenty two years since John Hammond’s dream came to a screaming halt. But a new empire has arose: Masrani Global. They have taken control of International Genetic Technologies (InGen) as well as all of their subsequent… assets. So out of the ashes of Jurassic Park (and apparently all the other subsequent incidents that happened in 1997 and 2001) Masrani has created Jurassic World, and John Hammond’s dream is now a reality. Jurassic World brings in over twenty thousand people each day, and each guest can now come face to face with the most fascinating creatures to ever roam the planet… well, fascinating for a period of time it seems. The novelty of dinosaurs living again seems to be fading, Dr. Henry Wu and his team are cooking up something that’s sure to excite everyone: Indominus rex, a genetic hybrid with the base genome of Tyrannosaurus rex with some other “classified” species thrown in to the mix (that are revealed throughout the film.) The problem is… it suddenly excites everyone in all the wrong reasons. During a inspection of the I.rex enclosure by Owen Grady, one of the resident JW animal behaviorists who is currently working with the park’s velociraptors, the I.rex escapes. Chaos ensues, as the monster rampages though the island killing everything and everyone in sight. Vic Hoskins believes that he and his InGen ACU unit can capture the creature, by using some very radical means. These radical means end up backfiring and even more chaos ensues as even more creatures on top of I.rex are now fanning out across the island. Is there any hope for survival for the people left on the island?

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I’m going to try really hard not to let my passion overshadow my judgement right now. ANYBODY who know me knows that Jurassic Park is “my thing.” It’s my Star Wars, my Star Trek, my whatever you want to say. It’s the movie [series] that inspired me and so many others. As silly as it sounds, they are the films that made me the person I am. But I’m also a huge cinema fanatic in general, as well as a paleo-guy. So there are several conflicting thoughts, impressions, and emotions flying around in my head right now.

I’ll be frank: liked this movie, a lot. It’s a fun ride, and director Colin Trevorrow delivered some astounding fan service while also bringing a lot of originality to the table. The film does have it’s issues, which I’ll discuss, but overall I left the cinema with an extreme sense of pleasure mixed with just enough wonder to make me feel like this film was a good breath of fresh air in a once extinct franchise.

Warning: from here on out there will be plenty of spoilers… you’ve been warned.

The plot to Jurassic World is probably a story that many have thought of in some way shape or form (I can name at least two videos games off the top of my head where JP is reopened after the events of the first film- the original JP Arcade and JP for Sega Game Gear (and then there is Operation Genesis where you can open your own park)) I remember playing with the toys when I was a kid and playing out what it would be like for the park to actually open.  I don’t feel like it’s super original. The way that it’s portrayed and handled by Colin Trevorrow is however. Everything that we saw at Jurassic World seemed like something I would totally expect to find at a world renown and SUPER expensive theme park.  And while I can recall many many people and die hard fans of the franchise rolling their eyes and groaning at the fact that we’d be getting a hybrid dinosaur I loved and understood Colin’s reasoning. I went to the zoo a few months ago with my family and saw so many people on their phone texting and not taking in all of the animals. Same thing happens in museums, so after Jurassic World has been open for ten years I would totally expect that people would be getting “used” to it, and when that happens at any theme park a new attraction has to be built. In this case it was the Indominus rex.

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I. rex was a wonderful antagonist I felt. Do I feel like it could have just been a normal dinosaur: yes. But as I said I totally understand why it wasn’t. Plus this was actually supposed to be a monster. When rewatching Jurassic Park 3 before hand (I had a marathon of all the films before seeing JW) I couldn’t help but think that a monster is exactly what the spinosaur was- and it irritated me. Yes, the rex(s) and raptors had their monster parts as well in the previous films but at least most of the time it was explainable as to why they were hunting the humans or tracking them (be it territory, food, or otherwise.) The spino had no reason to hunt the humans. The I. rex does. It is not a dinosaur, as Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady points out- it is a monster. It kills for sport, not to eat.  It’s scary looking, it’s big, and it kicks some major tail in Jurassic World. Also it has an ability I’ve been waiting to see in a JP film since reading Michael Crichton’s The Lost World: chameleon/camo skin. Technically it’s cuttlefish skin, but none the less I. rex has the ability to camouflage itself into it’s surroundings. While I really would have loved (and still would love) to see carnotaurus in Jurassic World with that ability like in the novel it looks amazing and is effective none the less. Plus, according to the official Jurassic World website I. rex does have some carno DNA in her so… that’s something I guess.

From a Jurassic Park canon standpoint, for the most part, all the dinosaurs looked great. A lot of the old guys are back and have some shining moments- including the original film’s Tyrannosaurus rex. There are some new guys as well, including the Apatosaurus (which interestingly enough was the sauropod in both of Michael Crichton’s novels but has never been in a previous JP film.) The one animal I would have loved to have seen more of… Dilophosaurus. We get one great moment, but it’s SUCH A TEASE. Oh well, even that one short moment answered an age old question in the canon: yes, the dilos in the first film were juveniles.

I’m going to keep my paleo-analytic critiques to a minimum here, because most of anything I have to say about inaccuracies in the animals of the film have been said by many paleontologists already. From a paleo-perspective the film’s dinosaurs are kind of “meh.” Inaccuracies have been in the JP universe since the first film (well… even since the novel.) To fan of the series they’ve always been able to be explained through the genetic modification that occurs during the “de-extinction” of the animals, and that’s even explicitly said in this film. But I will say that with them having a new park for this film and actually going back from “scratch” on many of these animals, it was kind of a missed opportunity to have some really accurate representations of dinosaurs on screen. While I was able to stomach a lot of the inaccuracies the biggest one I have a hard time dealing with is whenever a pterosaur tries to make off with a human, or even a dinosaur.  That and a near tail dragging stegosaurus.

My biggest complaint, above all, concerning the dinosaurs was the over use of CGI. In the first two JP films there was a perfect marriage or CGI mixed with practical effects- it was seamless. In JP3 it leaned more towards CGI, and the practical effects that were there for some reason didn’t seem as good as in the first two films. In this film nearly every shot of the dinosaurs was CGI. Now, a LOT of it looked good- I can’t lie. There was some really great computer animation work going on in this film. But there were plenty of scenes that they could have used practical effects on, and didn’t. But when they did, it was breathtaking. Like the dying apatosaur scene, it had me in near tears.  It was almost as emotional as the ick triceratops scene in the original Jurassic Park. It looked alive. It was wonderful, and I wish that we could have seen more practical effects- especially towards the end…

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The acting was good. There were several kind of “cheesy” and forced moments, but I never found myself getting annoyed (in the wrong way) with the characters like I did in JP3 or even some in The Lost World.

Chris Pratt actually goes into some more serious territory with Owen Grady. While the signature charm we associate with Pratt  pops up from time to time, for the most part his character is more akin to Muldoon in the first film with a no-nonsense and practical approach to treating, training, and caring for the dinosaurs.  Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing goes through some good evolution through the film, and becomes kind of a Ellen Ripley of sorts. I think I would have liked to seen more from her in this regard, she does have an amazing and key moment in the end of the film. The one point I really disliked in the film was how Owen and Claire’s relationship just kind of sprung from nowhere. It felt really forced and I disliked it.

Vincent D’Onofrio plays, I guess, the human villain of the film. It’s all in the eye of the beholder really. But he does make some really bad judgement calls and his comeuppance is as good as Dieters in The Lost World. And I am SO glad we got to see some more from BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu. A lot of his material is straight from the original novel here and it’s stuff I, as a Jurassic Park fan, have been waiting to see and hear for a long time. He does a great job of playing Wu, like to a T and I really hope we see more of him if the series continues. 

Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson do a great job of being… well, the kids of this film. Their relationship feels plausible, although for the most part they were just kind of “there” in the film and didn’t offer a lot of support the way children in previous films have.

Irrfan Khan as Masrani did a great job but we really didn’t get to learn much about the guy before he goes down in a fireball. I knew I liked him but his death wasn’t as powerful as if it would have been if, say, Hammond was to die in the first film. If he was given more time I feel like that would have helped.

Other talent like Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, and Katie McGrath offered some variety in the supporting cast but we all knew they’d pretty much be fodder or just help the story along and have a few great moments.

Along with all the new, Colin Trevorrow does an outstanding Job of bringing back the old. We have a wonderful moment where we get to see the old Visitor Center again from the first film. The only problem, the scene(s) only last a few minutes and we move on. I really would have liked it if we slowed down the film when we got in to the “restricted” area of Nublar, which is almost the entire norther half of the island. There are still some unanswered questions, more locations I wanted to see. On top of it all, there were some thing that unless you’ve been following the marketing you wouldn’t really know. Like the rex. I’m sure few people actually realized that the rex in the film was the original (via interviews or websites, etc) the average viewer wouldn’t realize. I wish they would have shown or discussed the roundup of the rex and possibly more of the original animals from the first Jurassic Park. And damn it!- I wanted more dilophosaurs! Sigh… But really JW really has some super nostalgic moments.

The film also has a lot of inside jokes/nods towards the other films in some really clever ways. Take the ptero attack on the chopper. The pteranodon’s beak breaking through the bubble and into the chest of the ACU member- that’s taken directly from a cut sequence from The Lost World. Also that blood dripping on ACU member Hamada’s hand when he’s searching for I.rex… reminded me a lot of when Malcolm is trying to explain Chaos Theory to Dr. Sattler in Jurassic Park. “Which way is the drop gonna’ role off?” Moments like that, and many others in the film just left me tickled as a JP fan. Trevorrow goes above and beyond with the fan service in the film, and for that I thank and applaud him.  He also adds in some really tense moments very akin to the Alien franchise, and you’ll know them when you see them. These moments and Colin’s willingness to show gore actually make Jurassic World the most violent of any of the Jurassic films.

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The fan service goes even into the soundtrack of the film. Composer Michael Giacchino is back for is third turn in the JP franchise (originally scoring the soundtrack to the The Lost World and Warpath: Jurassic Park PlayStation video games.) For JW Giacchino brings a lot of originality to the plate but really pays homage to nearly all the work done before for the franchise. Not only are their call backs to the classic motifs of Jurassic Park (and The Lost World theme at one major point) composed by John Williams but we get a lot of music that is similar to the themes heard in Operation Genesis, from Jurassic Park; The Game, and even a hint of the PlayStation games. It’s nice, and really brings some added emotion and nostalgia.  The new Jurassic World theme is majestic, and while it may not be as iconic as the classic JP, it’s exactly what this film needs, and the I. rex theme is creepy as well. There are a few moments in the film where I feel like the soundtrack is a tad much, and over the top- but it’s defiantly not as obnoxious as the JP3 soundtrack gets at points.

Some moments of the film really dance a fine line of being exactly what you didn’t know you wanted to see and absolutely overkill. The two main ones being the death of Zara and the death of I. rex. Zara’s death was just… crazy. I personally would have liked to have either had it be the mosasaur or just the ptera and not both, but I can’t like… it looked cool. And I. rex’s death… I actually won’t spoil. I saw it a mile away before it happened during the final encounter, and when it actually happened the cinema erupted in applause- and I was a part of that roaring audience. It was a bad ass death for a pretty bad ass monster.

In the end… to be honest, my head is still spinning. I caught the 7 pm showing (Central Time) of Jurassic World and it’s now almost 1 AM and I’m finishing this review. My thoughts are still jumbled, “but, uh… well there it is.” Jurassic World, while having some zany moments, and some nonsensical plot points about militarized dinosaurs… is pretty much everything I wanted in a sequel. I do wish it was a tad longer, taking more time to explain some things and slow down at some moments, but the pacing wasn’t bad really. I’m super interested in if there will be some deleated/extended scenes in the BluRay release. All in all though, after a fourteen year wait that came after kind of a very bitter bitter sweet third film I feel like this film is a great addition to the franchise. While it’s not as good as the original it’s defiantly a very worthy sequel.

Jurassic World answers a lot of questions I feel, while opening a whole new door for future teams to go down should they choose. If not, I’m actually not concerned. While there are plenty of loose strings it has an ending more akin to The Lost World and not super open ended like Jurassic Park 3. And that makes me as both a fan of this wonderful franchise and a movie goer satisfied. And those questions, along with the ones have have yet to be answered are still out there for future teams to tackle (oh please, let one of those teams include me! … I can wish….)

Jurassic World is a wild romp through the island of Isla Nublar that is not to be missed. It chaotic, fun, terrifying, and exhilarating. This movie is the definition of what a summer blockbuster should be and is defiantly not to be missed. If you’re a fan of the franchise though, bring some tissues- because the nostalgia train is gonna’ hit ya’, hard.

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With Jurassic World release right around the corner (only a little more than a month away!) I’m sure you’ve already begun to see the onslaught of JW gear arriving in local stores! Toys, food products, games, and even limited edition Barbasol Shaving Cream cans. On top of all of that you can expect there to be a plethora of books based on and inspired by Jurassic World. It’s only fitting since the franchise began as a book, right? While most of the books will probably tend to focus on the story of the film, there are some exceptions to that rule- one of which being the newly released Jurassic World: Dinosaur Field Guide.

Now this book is actually a revised/updated (as the cover suggests) reprinting of the Jurassic Park: Institute Dinosaur Field Guide, which was originally published in 2001 coinciding with the release of Jurassic Park 3. Jurassic Park: Institute was started as an endeavor to bring the latest scientific knowledge about dinosaurs via the Jurassic Park franchise. JPI included a incredibly interactive and informational website, an interactive tour in Japan, and several book publications- one of which being the original Dinosaur Field Guide.

The original Dinosaur Field Guide is an exquisite book, perfect for dinosaur enthusiasts of any age as well as Jurassic Park fans. It’s full of [at that point in time] up to date facts thanks to Dr. Thomas Holtz and Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, and exquisite artwork by Robert Waters. It also included a large poster listing various dinosaur species, and had special notes that contained behind the scenes facts of the Jurassic Park films.

But a lot changes in fourteen years in the field of paleontology and the writers and artist teamed up again to revise their book and released it again under the Jurassic World title (since Jurassic Park: Institute is no more sadly.) So how does it compare to it’s predecessor, and what can you expect? Well, let’s take a look!

The opening page is a note from the authors asking and attempting to answer the age old question: Why are dinosaurs so popular? It was a powerful opening in the 2001 original and it’s just as powerful now, going on to theorize that unlike other movie monsters, dinosaurs were once real and their sheer size and imaginable power will always fascinate us and our culture, One part has been revised from the 2001 text, now stating we have over 1,200 species of Dinosauria and that the number grows by about 40 each year. It’s staggering to read. And the closing remarks of the note from the authors on the commercial selling and poaching of dinosaur bones is  incredibly poignant.

The next few pages briefly, yet cohesively, cover the basic facts of the history of the dinosaurs (eras, time span,) as well as some information on Mesozoic plant life, how fossils are found and classified, the differentiation between ornithischian and saurischian, and a great note on drawing dinosaurs/paleoartistry, Overall these pages are exactly the same with some as in the 2001 text, with only some minor (yet major revisions.) One such revision is the changing of the end of the Cretaceous from 65 MYA to 66 MYA. It’s an important new update to the science and one I’m really glad to see in this text (since many books, media, etc. are still saying 65 MYA.)

I’m also glad that the ornithischian vs. saurischian information was still left in. Those facts are sometimes absent in many children’s texts (or it’s referenced and never really explained.) Holtz and Brett-Surman give a really good and in depth explanation as well as a diagram on the difference between the two.) I do wish that a image of the two’s pubis was included instead of just an explanation but that’s really just a nit-pick.

The main body of the book is a guide to various species of Mesozoic animals (100 to be exact: 87 dinosaurs, 3 marine reptiles, 6 non-dino archosaurs, and 4 pterosaurs (each of the non dinosaurs also have a short preface about what exactly they are in relation to dinosaurs, and the Mesozoic.) ) The guide for the most part is exactly the same except for a few changes. The page includes the name of the species, the date it was named, the name meaning, and then lists diet, location, size, and trivia facts. The main body of the page for each species explains the history of the animal and past and present theories on the animals going on in the field of paleontology today.

Some dinosaurs have been removed and some dinosaurs are new. New dinosaurs include: Anzu,  Edmontosaurus, and Othnielosaurus (was Othnielia in 2001 edition,)

There has also been a massive overhaul on the artwork, with lots of new or revised images differing from the 2001 text. Many of the animals (mainly theropods) and feathered now- a very welcome update to the text. Some of the artworks differs in style from each other and I think this has to do with there actually being two artists on this book. Robert Walters is credited on the cover as doing the illustrations but apparently Bruce J. Mohn also lent a hand in doing some of the art work as well, which was then painted by Walters. Overall the artwork is great, but there is an obvious difference between the two styles present- which was not the case in the original text. It’s not a major issue but may set off some people’s OCD.

The facts for each species continue to be great and up to date. A lot of it is the same information as the 2001 text, but there are appropriate revisions to the dating, locations, sizes, and species of dinosaurs based on current information. I do wish that some new information and debates were included though (such as Trike vs. Torosaurus and the new theory on Spinosaurus, and several others.) Current debates such as these are really changing and setting fire to the paleo-community and I feel like the are important to mention.

Probably my one biggest issue with the entire book is the revisions to the “movie facts” on random pages of the text. In the original 2001 text there would be, on select pages (usually pages with animals actually featured in the JP films) there would be an image from the JP film along with (in a slap board) info on the dinosaur in relation to the film itself. It ranged from correcting the sci-fi depictions of the dinosaurs (such as dilophosaur in Jurassic Park having venomous spit) or discussing how Tyrannosaurus rex was depicted as a caring parent.

In this edition all of the previous “movie facts” are taken out and replaced with new ones that are… vary random and not anywhere near as satisfying.  First off many of them appear on pages where they shouldn’t be (like dimorphodon being in dilophosaurs page or an apatosaur fact being on the brachiosaur page when apatosaur has it’s own section in the book itself!) Now I assume that the reason why these edits are where they are is because these pages are where the “movie facts” were in the first edition so it was fairly easy to edit the text and just swap out the picture. But if you’re going to just edit the captions at least make it a little more interesting than ‘T.rex roars on to the big screen in Jurassic World!’ Nearly all the captions say something along those lines, offering up no real information or facts unlike in the 2001 text. It’s really the biggest disappointment out of the book. Even if the editors/Universal isn’t wanting “too much” shared on JW before it’s release I still think something more substantial than a constant “come see the movie” ad should’ve been allowed.

Overall though this book is still fantastic. It actually compliments the original text well I think, especially with it’s updated information and several new dinosaurs. While there is noticeable difference in art styles, and the “movie facts” end up being nothing more than a film promotion, the book itself holds up as a wonderful basic guide into the world of the dinosaurs. It’s great for younger dinosaur enthusiasts. The text is easily understandable and everything is well explained. While you may not want to start a five year old out on this, it’s defiantly something that the pre-teenish dinosaur enthusiasts will really enjoy and find useful. But really the book is a great guide for all ages. I still take my original copy out during field work, and this edition will probably be no different. It’s great to use to brush up on facts about dinosaurs you may be excavating, or seeing in museums.

Jurassic World: Dinosaur Field Guide has a price listing of $12.99, and is currently in book stores now.

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Jurassic World Alice Levin

The time had finally come! My family and I had been planning this trip for ages it seems and it had finally come: our trip to Jurassic World. I’ve wanted to go since 2005, but things didn’t pan out and we kept pushing it back because of various reasons until finally in early 2013 the hubby and I finally decided to go for it.  We had to rack in quite a bit of extra cash. At this point we have two boys, verses 2005 when we had none and both of them are super dino-crazy. I had always wanted to go because of the beauty of the island and how exotic the resort seems to be, the dinosaurs were just a plus! But now with our two boys we had more to think about. We wanted to make it the most memorable trip of their lifetime- and I think we succeeded!

We ended up going with the John Hammond Package, since that option seemed really geared towards dino-enthusiasts. My husband was worried that parts of it would be a bit tedious for the boys and we should have booked the Family Package since the website makes this particular package seem very factual/educational and geared more towards the adult dinosaur lovers and soon to be college students, but it wasn’t that way at all! Every moment of it was fun and action packed, while still being educational! My boys and even we were enthralled every day we were there (this package consists of three consecutive days.)

Highlights of the John Hammond Package:

– My favorite part had to be the behind the scenes tour with the resident paleontologist Brian Switek. This man genuinely loves his work, and was really engaging to listen to. As we went on our tour he gave us a kind of lecture on the Mesozoic as well as the science and making of Jurassic World (which also included a little history on the old Jurassic Park!) We learned about how the dinosaurs are made, and how they are cared for.  Then at the very end he gave our boys each a signed edition of one of his books. Fantastic!!

– My boys LOVED being present during a hatching. They had been expecting a “theropod” (a word Brian taught me!) of some kind, so when they found out they were going to see a stegosaur they kind of groaned. But you should have seen their faces once that egg started moving. They couldn’t take their eyes of it, and their jaws were hanging open. My youngest now says that his favorite dinosaur is now the stegosaurus!

-The guided gyrosphere tour was breathtaking, and definitely takes the cake. It’s different than the normal tour, and our special recorded guide took us closer to the herds and farther away from the normal trail than most guests get to go. It was outstanding.  I swear my husband, at one point, shed a tear. He’s not a super dino-fanatic but he loves nature. We take trips when we can out west and I swear half of the pictures we own are of different formations and landscapes. Seeing these animals really put him in awe.

Other highlights of Jurassic World in General:

–  The food! Oh Lord the food was amazing. Each night we ate at a new restaurant. Dave and Buster’s was obviously my kid’s favorite because… well, pizza and video games. How can you go wrong? But I personally loved Winston’s Steakhouse (GET THE LAMBCHOP!) and my husband really liked Nobu, but we also both really liked Margaretville (at night, once the kids were in bed obviously!)

-The Cretaceous Cruise was almost as breathtaking as the guided gyrosphere tour. It was such an amazing way to see the animals.

-The aquatic park was a great way to cool down. It got pretty humid while we were there, so we liked to cool down from time to time.

-The Jurassic World Hilton is literally one of the best hotels you will EVER stay at. Period.

In general everything was great about this vacation. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted in the three days that we were there and we’re already hesitantly planning our next trip (although it may be a while, unless we dip into the kid’s college funds!) The John Hammond Package was absolutely amazing, and worth every penny (which I’m super happy about because had it not been this would have been one expensive let down!) The only reason I didn’t give Jurassic World five stars was because around January I found out that in June Jurassic World is actually going to have a new attraction opening up, the Indominus rex and I really wanted to go then but unfortunately too much time had passed and we weren’t able to change our tickets. Oh well. My boss probably wouldn’t have let me change the date of my vacation anyway.

If you haven’t gone you’re doing yourself a disservice. Stop what you’re doing and go, right now.

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“Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “Jurassic Park ///”, “Jurassic World” are Trademarks of Universal Studios, Legendary Pictures, and Amblin Entertainment.

Based off Characters Created by Michael Crichton

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Anybody who knows me knows that I have a great love for the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, IL. The small museum is a great place to learn about natural history as well as present day wildlife, and so much more. It has exhibits that display a wealth of information, and really relays it all to the public in a very down to earth and enjoyable way. They also have a great paleo program, and offer volunteer opportunities to their digs in both Montana and Utah over the summer. I’ve gone on several digs with the Burpee, and over the years have built a really strong relationship with the wonderful team at the museum.

But above all, the number one event that has allowed me to build such a strong and lasting relationship with not only this museum, but other paleontologists around the world, is PaleoFest. For the past seventeen years, the Burpee has been home to an annual conference where some of the leading names in paleontology gather to present on their latest research. It’s a more informal, intimate version of SVP. This year’s PaleoFest is bound to be one of the biggest ones yet rivaling their 2013 Late Cretaceous Symposium. 2015’s PaleoFest is themed “The Beginning of Dinosaurs and the Origin of the Modern World,” and will focus on the Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic. Tickets for this event went on sale today so I thought that I should spread the word! Without further adieu, here are my top five reasons why you NEED to attend this years PaleoFest

1.) The Lectures

There are going to be some outstanding lectures this year by some of the leading names in paleontology, including Dr. Mark Goodwin, Dr. Stephen Brusatte, Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues, Dr. Paul Sereno, Dr. Susan Evans, Dr. Matt Bonnan and many many more. Talks will be focused on life in the Triassic and Jurassic periods and the evolution of our earth. The talks given at PaleoFests aren’t just factual, but fun! The key note presentations are also always enjoyable. Accompanied with a delicious dinner that takes place after night one of PaleoFest, guests enjoy the key note lecture. At the end of the event you’ll be up to date on current theories and possibly even potential future research these scientists will be doing. The presenters know how to give a great presentation without it ever being too heavy handed, or dull. You’ll get the facts you want, and have a great time doing it. Learning can be fun!

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2.) The Atmosphere 

The museum is going to be packed, and busy–but you’re going to love it. It’s going to be full of people who love the world of paleontology and natural history just as much as you do! Nobody is out of place here during the two day event. Everyone comes together for a common purpose–to learn from the best! There are going to be plenty of opportunities to talk and discuss ideas and theories with complete strangers who will be just as excited as you are about the topics being presented on. You’ll make new friends which leads me to my 3rd point…

3.) Making Connections

To me, this is the BEST thing about PaleoFest. Unlike SVP, the Burpee offers a more laid back and intimate setting to host its conference. This factor affords you the opportunity to get one on one time with the scientists attending the event. Over the years I have met with and interviewed many scientists at PaleoFest and have kept in contact with a good majority of them! While it may seem intimidating to walk up to top paleontologist, just keep this in mind- they are JUST AS EXCITED about the science as you are! They are ready, willing, and able to answer any questions you have. This opportunity to meet with leading scientists is also a HUGE chance for college students/soon to be college students to meet with these scientists and make connections for possible future college opportunities. When you’re at PaleoFest, don’t just sit on your duff! Go and interact with other visitors as well as the presenters. It will make your experience ten times better than it already was.

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4.) The Exhibits AND Burpee Staff

While PaleoFest is going on the museum is still in full operation, which means between the talks or during breaks you have the chance to roam around and take in some of the Burpee’s amazing exhibits. Along the way, the Burpee team has also placed some interactive stations throughout the museum, where you can have a chance to learn more about the world of paleontology, or current theories on how scientists believe prehistoric creatures lived. There are also small break out sessions for the younger paleo-lovers, where they can learn about the world of the dinosaurs and also have a hand in making different crafts. The Burpee staff are truly a great bunch of people who are passionate about what the they do. The manpower and time put in to events like PaleoFest are testament to that enough! During PaleoFest you’ll often see Burpee team members running around working hard, or giving guided tours throughout the museum.

5.) The Auctions

Last but not least! The auctions that happen at PaleoFest always offer a great opportunity to a.) nab some REALLY cool gear/items b.) have a good laugh. The Burpee’s PaleoFest team, led by Scott Williams, knows how to put on a show and work the crowd. The items up for sale range from high quality paleo-art, to signed books, and even casts of fossils made by the Burpee staff! Ibf bidding wars aren’t “your thing” to join in on, watching the auctions alone is fun in and of itself. Some people really get passionate about wanting those casts and those Estwing rock hammers!

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If you are interested in natural history or paleontology, or even if you are just curious about any of it- PaleoFest is for you!  The even brings in tons of every day people just wanting to know more about the science of paleontology, as well as die hard enthusiasts. The presenters make it all easy to follow and understand, without skimping on any of the material. PaleoFest is an amazing two day event, unlike any other, that will entertain as much as it will inform you about the fascinating would of paleontology.

PaleoFest is March 14th and 15th, 2015

Passes:
One day Pass
Memers: $45
NonMombers: $55
Student (with ID): $45
Two day Pass
Members: $65
NonMembers: $75
Student (with ID): $65

Key Note Dinner and Lecture: 

Burpee Members: $55
General Public: $65

Tickets are available online as well as by calling 815-965-3433

* Find out more about PaleoFest events, and talks as well as the different kids activities by visiting www.burpee.org