I have finished listening to the audiobook version of The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was an enjoyable read and had more complexity than any of its film adaptations. The dinosaurs were depicted based on the outdated Victorian science of Doyle’s time. For example, the Iguanodons walked on two legs like a kangaroo while the dinosaurs as a whole were depicted as dumb lumbering giants. The big carnivorous dinosaur, which was either an Allosaurus or a Megalosaurus, was described as being ugly with skin that was like a toad’s. The conflict between the plateau’s native tribe and the ape men had a serious colonialism feel to it where one civilization comes in conflict with a more advanced one. Overall, this has been a fun read and I would recommend it to anyone who is seeking a good dinosaur book.
“The E750 project is extremely aggressive!”
Dr. Henry Wu, Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous
The wait is finally over! We finally got to see E750 in all is glory in Season 3 of Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous. It has been confirmed that this beast’s name is “Scorpius Rex”. For the longest time, I thought this creature was an early version of the Indoraptor that Dr. Wu created for Vic Hoskins. However, it was revealed that the Scorpius Rex was the very first hybrid dinosaur ever created, predating even the Indominus Rex, which was the first hybrid to be revealed to the public.
The Scorpius Rex was a failed attempt to create the Indominus Rex. When it was made, it was deemed too hideous to be shown to the public. I agree with this sentiment because the Scorpius Rex was utterly grotesque compared to the Indominus Rex and the Indoraptor. The way to contorted its arms and torso almost made its upper body seem semi-humanoid before snapping back into place. It also had unpredictable mood swings between being placid to being completely aggressive. Its name came from the scorpionfish DNA that was used in its creation. Its scorpionfish genes resulted in it having highly venomous quills.
Unlike most theropod dinosaurs, the Scorpius Rex is skilled at climbing trees. Like a leopard, it would stash its kills in trees. It was implied that the carcasses were gruesomely mauled and mangled after being stung by the Scorpius Rex’s quills. Like the Indominus Rex, the Scorpius Rex had infrared vision, which means it could see its prey’s body heat. This method of hunting reminded me of how the Predator hunted. However, its infrared vision is also one of its weaknesses. When it sees fires and explosions, the Scorpius Rex seems to calm down and runs to the source of the intense heat.
What was most fascinating about the Scorpius Rex was its ability to reproduce asexually. Only one of its offspring was seen, which implies that it was the only one of its brood to reach adulthood. Like Bumpy the Ankylosaurus, the young Scorpius Rex underwent an accelerated growth rate, allowing them to reach full maturity within a matter of days or weeks. My guess is that the rest of the brood were either cannibalized by their mother, got eaten by other carnivorous dinosaurs, or turned on one another until only one remained. This was similar to how the Indominus Rex killed and ate its own sibling. Like the Indominus Rex, the Scorpius Rex lacked social skills, which was evidenced by the Scorpius Rex fighting its own offspring. Still, the Scorpius Rex’s ability to reproduce asexually is a game changer. Not only does this make the second Scorpius Rex the first hybrid dinosaur to be born naturally, but it also implies that the other dinosaurs could potentially do it as well. If the dinosaurs that escaped the Lockwood Manor gain the ability to reproduce asexually, any chance of containing them will be lost.
Overall, the Scorpius Rex was easily the most monstrous creature in the Jurassic Park franchise so far. It gave us an idea of what else hybrid dinosaurs are capable of. I certainly hope it will not be the last hybrid we get to see in the franchise.
“All the changes in evolution you affected; they will come in the Waves. First will be climate. Then vegetation, the early manifestations of life. Then come the more complex organisms.”
Dr. Sonia Rand, A Sound of Thunder
In the film version of A Sound of Thunder, we were introduced to a possible alternate reality where the past 65 million years of evolution was completely rewritten. All of this was caused by a prehistoric butterfly being stepped on by careless time travelers. Still, the organisms of this alternate reality presented us with an intriguing ecosystem that deserves to be explored more.
In terms of climate, this alternate Earth was 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night and mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day time. The humidity was over 90 percent. All of these readings were in the middle of November, which implies that the climate would be hotter and more humid in Spring or Summer.
The vegetation of this alternate Earth was also intriguing because it was stronger and more developed than the plants we are familiar with. A prime example would be a species of vine that was armed with detachable thorns that were filled with a potent toxin. The toxin induces partial paralysis and operates like a hallucinogenic that triggers psychosis. When an animal gets too close to the vines, the vines would wrap around the creature like a snake attacking a mouse. At first glance, this trait could be seen as something carnivorous plants would have. However, it looks like this feature was meant as a defense mechanism to ward off herbivores.
While the climate and vegetation of this alternate reality were fascinating, the really amazing specimens are this ecosystem’s animals. Due to natural history being rewritten, different creatures evolved to replace the ones we are familiar with. Among those were swarms of beetles that would mob and envelope their prey like a school of piranha.
The most prominent example would be the baboon lizards. The exact evolutionary history of this species is largely unknown, but I can guess how it came to exist in the alternate reality. They may have been the descendants of dinosaurs that developed primate-like features. They may have began as a species of reptile that re-evolved mammalian traits such as the Permian mammal-like reptiles. Either way, the baboon lizards are one of the most complex creatures in the alternate reality. Like primates, these beasts are social animals that travel in troops and share a strong group bond. Either as a defense against predators or the overwhelming elements, the baboon lizards developed a very thick hide to the point in which only their throats were their only soft spot. While sleeping, baboon lizards sleep upside down like bats and become fiercely territorial if their sleep is disturbed. While clearly carnivores, they may have been omnivorous due to the unique nature of their primate-like teeth. Based on all available information, it would seem the baboon lizards have replaced humans as the dominant species on the planet.
Instead of birds, the skies of this alternate reality were ruled by large bat-like creatures. These bats were large enough to rival prehistoric pterosaurs. Like the baboon lizards, these bats seemed to be a blend between reptile and mammal like the Permian mammal-like reptiles. They hunt in flocks like vultures while their legs and talons were strong enough to peel away solid steel. They apparently hunted their prey like birds of prey by snatching prey items off the ground with their vise-like feet.
Another inhabitant of this alternate reality were giant eel-like creatures that lurk in swamps saturated in sulfur. These eels resemble a blend between reptile and fish. While their heads are semi-shaped like those of a carnivorous dinosaur, their jaws seem to operate like those of a crocodile. When a prey item gets caught in the eel’s jaws, the eel would hold the prey underwater until it drowns. In addition to its gripping jaws, the eel could wrap its coils around a prey item like a snake to either crush the prey to death or pull it into its waiting mouth. While hunting prey, the eel visibly had barbels hanging from its face like those of a catfish. This would allow it to sense vibrations in the water. Overall, this eel provides another reason why this alternate reality is ill-suited for human life.
We finally reach the oddest life form to live in the alternate reality, which is what humanity would evolve into. This new species of human looks almost alien in appearance with large eyes that would open and close with a thin membrane. This could indicate that it was sensitive to bright light and preferred to live in dark places. This would be reinforced by the fact that this being has a pale pigmentation like a naked mole rat, which would make the rest of its body vulnerable to bright lights. Like a catfish, this being had whisker-like barbels on its face. Also, it has a waddle dangling from its throat like a turkey. These features may have been used for display amongst members of its own species. Unlike mankind as we know it, these beings are obviously not at the top of the food chain and are likely prey. In general, this creature is easily one of the most grotesque forms humanity could take if our evolution was altered.
In conclusion, the alternate reality presented to us in the film adaptation of A Sound of Thunder was very intriguing. Although it ceased to exist when the timeline was corrected, I would have loved to see what other strange life forms this ecosystem had to offer. It is one example of what is evolutionarily possible when natural history is altered.
“Where have you been?”
“Change of plans. Mission took a jog to the left. I’m taking everything off-site.”
“The embryos are safe here. They can live up to eight weeks on the generators.”
“No, no. You — You listen. Park’s gonna be Chapter 11 by morning. Okay? Our little side project’s about to get shot in the arm. I don’t want a bunch of lawyers messing around with something they don’t understand. You get it?”
“Hey. I’m gonna take that as a yes.”
Dr. Henry Wu and Vic Hoskins, Jurassic World
Upon closer examination, I realized that the mysterious hybrid dinosaur known as E750 was indirectly mentioned in Jurassic World. Near the end of the movie, Dr. Henry Wu and Vic Hoskins spoke to one another over the phone and mentioned a “side project” they were working on. When Hoskins mentioned the “side project”, Dr. Wu looked visibly afraid. Considering E750 attacked Dr. Wu, it is easy to see why he would be frightened by the mention of the “side project”. Due to this, E750 was the side project that Dr. Wu and Hoskins were working on behind the scenes. Later in the movie, Hoskins mentioned the possibility of making a hybrid that was a more compact version of the Indominus Rex that was every bit as deadly and intelligent as the original and could hide from the most advanced military technology. At the time, we thought Hoskins was foreshadowing the Indoraptor, but now it is clear he was talking about E750. This would make sense because the Indoraptor would be made on the mainland two years after Jurassic World fell. Meanwhile, E750 was already made and fully grown on Isla Nublar by the time the events of Jurassic World took place. Essentially, E750 is Dr. Wu’s and Hoskins’s version of the Indoraptor before the Indoraptor itself was created. With all of this in mind, the kids in Camp Cretaceous are up against a creature that is not only a genetic freak, but also a living weapon that is specifically bred for combat. This has raised the stakes even higher and I look forward to seeing what will happen in Season 3 of Camp Cretaceous.
I remember the opening scenes of both the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and World War Z, which depicts the characters’ lives being turned upside down overnight when the zombie apocalypse comes. In a single day, the characters’ community became overrun and ravaged by legions of inhuman beings. In my third dinosaur book, my characters will be thrust into a similar scenario. However, the inhuman beings they deal with will not be zombies. Even though these beings will be living creatures, they will have similar behavioral patterns to the fast moving version of zombies.
I have started reading a new audiobook, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. The audiobook is nearly eight and a half hours long and I am about an hour in. I have watched every adaptation of this story and understand the basic summary of it, but it will be a new experience to listen to the actual story. I will provide my review of the book when I am done. After this book, I am planning to listen to Jules Verne audiobooks such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
I have always been fascinated with the concept of lost worlds that are inhabited by creatures that were thought extinct for millions of years. Stories such as The Lost World, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and King Kong all portrayed such ecosystems. In most stories such as these, the prehistoric inhabitants remained unchanged for millions of years and are essentially the same as they were in the distant past.
However, I disagree with this idea because even if the animals’ ancestors survived mass extinctions, they will continue to evolve unchecked for 65 million years. With this in mind, creatures of a lost world would not be the same beasts we are familiar with. This is prominent with the Skull Island of the 2005 version of King Kong, which feature creatures that resemble the prehistoric animals of the distant past. However, even though they resemble their forebears, these creatures still underwent millions of years of adaptation and evolution.
If a lost world was artificially made like Isla Sorna in Jurassic Park, it is also possible that the island’s inhabitants would not be like their prehistoric templates. Through genetic engineering, scientists can try to recreate dinosaurs, but they realistically would not be like the real thing. That is due to the unpredictable nature of meddling in an organism’s DNA. You never know what you will ultimately get.
Overall, even though the concept of lost worlds is fascinating beyond measure, there is a noticeable flaw in it. There is no doubt that a lost world would be home to prehistoric monsters. However, due to the need to evolve, it is very likely that the inhabitants would not be like the beasts of the distant past. A real lost world would be a place with evolutionary mutations that no one has ever dreamed of.
“Well, they’re all so different. To look at them you wouldn’t say that they are the same species . . . but they’re growing from the same branch structure . . . so it has to be the same species. It’s the same plant! It’s like they’re stuck in a continuous mutation.”
Even though the reverse engineered dinosaurs are the main attraction in my dinosaur series, I also put a lot of thought into the plants as well. I wanted to create plants that were unnatural and otherworldly in appearance due to their manmade nature. With this in mind, I drew inspiration from the Toxic Jungle from Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The Toxic Jungle looked alien in appearance, which gave it an unsettling yet eerily beautiful atmosphere. I wanted to give the plants and rainforests in my dinosaur series a similar structure.
“It’s not like us… it’s unlike us. I don’t know what it wants, or if it wants, but it’ll grow until it encompasses everything. Our bodies and our minds will be fragmented into their smallest parts until not one part remains… Annihilation.”
Dr. Ventress, Annihilation
I remember the scifi film known as Annihilation, which featured an energy field called The Shimmer. The Shimmer operated like a prism that refracted the DNA of all organisms within its area of influence. As a result, the plants and animals within the Shimmer became mutants. Some of these mutants were beautiful while others were grotesque. The important thing was it was taking the genetic material of Earth’s biosphere and remodeling it into something new. I will be taking a similar route in The Kaligen Experiment where the manmade dinosaurs possess something that changes every lifeform it comes in contact with.
In the film adaptation of Carnosaur, we were introduced to radically insane plan by a mad scientist named Dr. Jane Tiptree. Tiptree somehow extracted prehistoric DNA and used it to create a virus that contaminated chicken eggs. Upon exposure to the virus, human males would become violently sick while human females became living incubators for dinosaur eggs. Tiptree’s endgame was to give the planet back to the dinosaurs by breeding the human race out of existence. After a matter of days, the virus had contaminated an entire town, but was contained by the military before it erupted into a global pandemic. However, I sometimes wonder how the world would have changed if the military failed to contain Tiptree’s virus. Would the human race be able to fend off its own extinction? Would the dinosaurs take over the planet? An intriguing scenario to consider.