I LOVE “Jurassic Park”! I mean it. This is by far one of my favorite franchises and the original film was a staple of my childhood. While not every movie in this series has been gold they have provided looks into the past for many bringing to life the ancient beasts that used to roam the Earth, dinosaurs. Let’s face it, “Jurassic Park” is the reason many kids grew up to be so fascinated with the giant lizards and, ironically enough, was also the source of some now classic misconceptions about what they looked like and how they acted. All the same when you think of dinosaurs chances are the “Jurassic Park” interpretations are still the most well known in your own mind. With “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” about to be released I wanted to look at some of my favorite giant beasts that have made their mark throughout this classic science fiction series. These are my picks for the Top 10 “Jurassic Park” Dinosaurs.
For this list I considered any dinosaur that made an appearance in any film within the “Jurassic Park” movie franchise including “Jurassic World”. I also included completely original dinosaurs so yes you might see the Indominous Rex here. I graded these dinosaurs on their popularity, significance to the films, designs and overall memorability so just because dinosaurs might show up in each movie doesn’t mean they will show up here. Several dinosaurs have been featured in all four films to date but may not have left the same impact as those you’ll see on this list.
That’s basically it. These are the dinos that helped make “Jurassic Park” a certified iconic franchise. Don’t see your favorite here? Let me know which dinosaur you prefer in the comments below and look for my review of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” this weekend.
We start off with the acid-spitting dinosaur that was the subject of one of the most terrifying scenes in the original “Jurassic Park” movie, the dilophosaurus. While its neck fan and its spitting defense mechanism have both been debunked by paleontologists few would deny that the cinematic version of the dino has an incredible design and fear inducing screech that would make anyone run in terror. It certainly works on Dennis Nedry, a saboteur of the original park, who comes face to face with one of these creatures in his attempt to flee the island with smuggled embryos. The young dilophosaurus corners Nedry and partially blinds him with acid before sneaking into Nedry’s jeep and cornering her prey once again ultimately killing him off screen. This is the only appearance of the dinosaur in all four films, but its kill scene is so memorable that the dilophosaurus has become one of the most beloved animals to appear in the series to date.
As one of the most popular dinosaurs in pop culture in general it’s kind of surprising that we didn’t get to see the stegosaurus until the sequel, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. The stego has been featured in every film in the series since and is usually shown to be more docile and peaceful than its first appearance in “The Lost World”. It’s the first dinosaur the human protagonists see on the island and the second featured in the film overall but its appearance was long overdue as fans of the prehistoric beings longed to see these creatures come to life. When we did it was fantastic as the design mimicked most scientifically accepted versions of the animal at the time and the encounter showcased the animal’s use of its spiked tail as a defense mechanism. It’s one of the most memorable scenes in the entire sequel film and made the stego a mainstay in the series as one of many filler herbivores to give the island a bit of softer, more family friendly flair.
The only flying dinosaur on this list we’d seen the pteranadon before in the concluding moments of “The Lost World”, but it wasn’t until “Jurassic Park III” that we saw it live up to its full potential as a secondary antagonist. Massive and menacing in appearance, these flying lizards engaged the protagonists inside an aviary where they were bred unknowingly on Isla Sorna, otherwise known as Site B. Their design is very close to the interpretations of paleontologists with a large head and massive wingspan that make them both intimidating and effective predators. For the first time we got to see a flying lizard used as a predator and, yes, it was a bit of pandering to add something new to the franchise in a film that took a LOT of unnecessary chances but it’s hard to argue that the addition of these creatures wasn’t cool. The eyes of these massive prehistoric monsters alone shoot right to the soul of the viewers and it’s truly frightening just to imagine the experience of coming face to face with such an effective and intimidating predator especially in an enclosed building.
The primary antagonist of “Jurassic Park III”, the Spinosaurus was brought in to add a new predator to the mix to freshen up the franchise and while it didn’t quite work out the way the filmmakers hoped it would it’s hard to deny this massive monster of nature its due place here. The Spinosaurus is not only bigger and more intimidating than its T-Rex cousin, it actually KILLS a Rex on screen and proves to be a more capable and ruthless predator. While the filmmakers did take some liberties in the creatures design, it’s still closely follows the scientific renderings of the animal complete with large back sail and pointed snout. The Spinosaurus is cool, intimidating and certainly upped the anti for the series to showcase lesser known prehistoric monsters to terrorize the human visitors of the island. For having only one true appearance in the franchise (if you don’t count the skeleton cameo in “Jurassic World”) the Spinosaurus makes the most of its screen time and provides fans of dinosaurs a new giant bipedal terror to embrace.
6. Indominous Rex
The only completely fictionalized dinosaur on this list, the Indominous Rex is a breed of dinosaur created to help draw new customers to the refurbished park, now rebranded as Jurassic World. With a name that loosely translated to “untamed king” the Indominous lives up to its name, killing its only sibling and eventually tricking the humans of the park into allowing it to go free by using a series of traits incorporated into it through its genetic makeup. The Indominous is a smart and dangerous killer, maybe even smarter than most actual dinosaurs that roamed the Earth. It’s unique design incorporates attributes of several different real-life dinosaurs including raptors and the t-rex and with abilities like multi-species communication and camouflage Indominous lives up to its purpose by becoming possibly the most dangerous and deadly creature ever to be feature in the series. However, considering it was an original creation, it can’t quite top some more familiar faces in terms of memorability.
While the Indominous might have been the real star of the show in “Jurassic World”, one creature superseded it in terms of popularity and is the one dinosaur that the reboot film has become most known for. That dinosaur is the mosasaurus, an aquatic giant and the first purely water dwelling beast in the series. A single Mosasaurus is featured in “Jurassic World” which quickly became a big draw for fans to see the film. The Mosasaur was used as a Sea World type of attraction and proved to be one of the most unique aspects of the reboot. She even plays into the final battle with the Indominous and proves in that moment alone to be a bigger badass than even the film’s main monster. Could you imagine seeing something like this in the world today? The massive 55-75 foot prehistoric creature nearly challenged the Blue Whale in length and was certainly more intimidating as a capable killer. The previews of “Fallen Kingdom” promise even bigger things from the monster who appears to have been let loose into the oceans to prey on whatever she pleases.
The triceratops is one of the most popular dinosaurs to ever exist and its appearance in the first “Jurassic Park” brought the dreams of countless children and adults to literal life. The tricera is the first dinosaur the humans get to actually interact with up close as they come across a sick female created from pure animatronic wonder with breathing, a moving tongue and incredibly detailed horns. Although today the design and actual status of the triceratops is disputed by scientists, this version of the dinosaur closely resembled the popular interpretation most everyone outside of the profession had come to accept. The tricera has been part of every “Jurassic Park” film and for good reason. Its solo scene in the first movie is now iconic cinema wonder and serves as the perfect contrast to the more violent action the rest of the movie includes. The triceratops quickly became one of “Jurassic Park’s” most iconic herbivores and an everlasting symbol of more peaceful possibilities for the park.
The first dinosaur anyone actually sees in the original “Jurassic Park”, the debut of this creature in all its computer generated wonder shocked the world and made it the subject of one of the most iconic scenes of modern cinema. The Brachiosaurus is a massive behemoth of a dinosaur and gets ample screen time in the first film before being sidelined to a minor role in the second and third movies. Smaller versions of the dino are seen in “Jurassic World” and it’s confirmed that she will play a part in “Fallen Kingdom”. The brachiosaurus has a bit of an unfair advantage for this list as her debut was destined to leave a mark, but few dinosaurs, especially herbivores, left such an impact that they became inseparable from the franchise. The brachiosaur helped bring imaginations to life in the 90s and gave us our first glimpse at the majesty of the creatures in this franchise. For all the fear and intimidation our next two entire provid, the brachiosaur provides a sense of peace and wonder that still captures the hearts of viewers to this day.
2. Tyrannosaurus Rex
The apex predator for most of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the first big antagonist of the series and has appeared in some form in every movie. The rex had an advantage as the most well-known and popular predator of prehistoric times before the first movie even premiered but the massive appearance and design of the lizard king on screen immediately made it the star of the show which is probably why, even in the “Jurassic Park” novel, it’s the basis for the skeletal figure in the park’s logo. Many misconceptions of the time were incorporated into the animal’s design, including its supposed movement-based vision, but that only made the rex more memorable and terrifying. As one of the most developed creatures in the park the rex remains today one of the most fearsome predators in the franchise able to go toe to toe with several other species including the raptors, the Spinosaurus, and the genetically superior Indominous Rex. Only one other dinosaur has become more synonymous with “Jurassic Park” and that creature is next on this list.
A secondary antagonist in every movie to date, the velociraptor is by far not only the most well know dinosaur from the “Jurassic Park” franchise but also one that utilized the most creative license to bring it to life. Drastically different from its smaller real-life counterpart, the movie version of the raptor presents them as pack hunters and some of the most accomplished and capable predators to ever walk the Earth. Standing about the height of an average full-grown human, if not taller, the raptors are masters of stealth and embrace their pack mentality with alphas and betas as well as a loyalty to those who imprint on them at an early age. They are also ruthlessly territorial and, of all the animals in the series, are most in tune with their avian ancestry in how they hunt and stalk their prey. All that aside when you think of the “Jurassic Park” movies you probably think of very specific scenes like the kitchen scene in the first film, the field scene in the second, the eggs standoff in the third, and the raptor bros in “Jurassic World”. This dinosaur, as inaccurate as it might be, has been involved in some of the most iconic scenes in every film of the franchise, has killed more people than any other dinosaur throughout the films and earned its popularity after being a minor fan favorite at best before the first movie premiered. Considering all this there was no doubt it deserved the top spot on this list.