Dinosaurs Run Amuck

Dinosaurs Run Amuck

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Profiles in History.

In a remote island off the west coast of Costa Rica a team of scientists has just completed six years of secret research and development enabling them to clone 15 different species of dinosaurs, 200 animals all together.

“Jurassic Park” will be the ultimate theme park because the exhibitions are real.  Creating and then trying to control nature will be the challenge. 

I think if dinosaurs ever are cloned, it will be done by somebody for entertainment.  That fit in with another thing that interested me very much, which is commercialization of genetic engineering.
— Michael Crichton

A story about dinosaurs had been creeping up in novelist Michael Crichton’s imagination for almost a decade before it was penned to paper.

Dinosaurs were all the rage in this country and Crichton didn’t want to be viewed as another writer cashing in on the cow.  So he waited.  And waited.  But the dinosaur obsession didn’t fade.  The turning point came in 1989.  Crichton’s wife was pregnant with his first child and the novelist found he wasn’t able to walk past a toy store without buying a stuffed dinosaur.  The novel “Jurassic Park” about scientists bringing dinosaurs back to life was percolating in his brain and surfacing in all sorts of ways.

Crichton ultimately surrendered to the inevitable and picked up his abandoned text.  His fascination with stuffed dinosaurs turned to cloned dinosaurs and he wrote “Jurassic Park.”

“I think if dinosaurs ever are cloned, it will be done by somebody for entertainment,” he said.  “That fit in with another thing that interested me very much, which is commercialization of genetic engineering.”

What made the dinosaurs in the movie so creepy is that they were “animals” gone amuck.  Not “monsters” gone amuck.  It made them all the more real.  These predators jumped out of the comic books right before your eyes onto a larger-than-life movie screen.  And they were chasing you and you weren’t being stalked around that kitchen by a monster as much as you were a ravenous pack hunter.  This is the stuff of nightmares.

The animatronic dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” were made to look like they were breathing.  Their likeness came out of respected paleontology texts.  Animal experts helped design and build them

From a design standpoint the tyrannosaurus rex alone was a masterpiece. About 20 feet tall, it consisted of some 3000 pounds of clay.  Eight to ten people sculpted on it everyday and it took 16 weeks to finish.  Then there was the velociraptor.  There was actually a human operator inside in some of those shots giving him lifelike movements.

Jurassic Park” the movie was released in 1993 and turned out to be a blockbuster, a certified movie classic.  A lot of it had to do with those larger-than-life dinosaurs.

On Oct. 8, 2009, Profiles in History in Calabasas Hills, Calif., featured the actual velociraptor maquette (scale model) from the first “Jurassic Park” movie in its Hollywood 37 auction. 

The 67 inch tall and 142 inch long raptor sold for $74,750.  Hard to believe this guy was actually made out of dense foam and steel armature.  Not fangs and claws.     

Update:  The nearly complete skeleton of an ACTUAL meat-eating dinosaur fetched $2.36 million at the Aguttes auction house in Paris on June 5, 2018, much to the dismay of many paleontologists.

The sale itself was legal — the dinosaur was dug up on private land in Wyoming in 2013, and the United States deems that fossils found on private land belong to the landowner, who can then legally take it out of the country.

Here are some values for other dinosaur scale models from the “Jurassic Park” movie sold in the auction.

“Jurassic Park” Scale Models

Pteranodon; giant bird; ¼ inch scale; from the 3rd “Jurassic Park” movie; 54 inch wingspan; stands 24 inches on base;  $6,325.  

Compsognathus; reptile-like; 2; puppets; 1997 movie; air and electric powered and rods; each is 13 inches tall and 28 inches long;  $14,950.

T-Rex; maquette; 1/5-scale miniature; scientific attention to accuracy and detail; created from resin, dense urethane foam over steel armature; 84 inches long by 38 inches tall; on base it stands 72 inches high;  $46,000.

T-Rex head display; full-scale, male; 1st movie; 68 inches tall on base;  $48,875.

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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