The Science of The Lost World

Why did Pachycephalosaurus have such a thick skull?

Pachycephalosaurus appears in the film, using its skull as a battering ram and sending a man through a vehicle. There is debate among paleontologists as to how Pachycephalosaurus used its thick head. Originally, it was thought that these dinosaurs were similar to modern goats and rammed heads in inter-species contests. Some skeptics contend that this was not the case and that it was more likely that the skull was used to ram into the sides of opponents. While more evidence is needed to determine the way in which these dinosaurs used their heads, scientists know that they were indeed used for combat by recent analysis of potential pathogens indicating trauma.

How good was the scent of Tyrannosaurus?

In The Lost World Jurassic Park, paleontologists Robert Burke and Sarah Harding get into a discussion about the likelihood that the pair of Tyrannosaurus would pursue them out of the territory, noting the highly advanced sense of smell of these dinosaurs. Scientific evidence supports this, as analysis of the T. rex brain cavity reveals a large olfactory bulb and olfactory nerves, signifying an acute sense of smell. Similar to a vulture, T.rex could track a meal from miles away.

Were dinosaurs good parents?

In The Lost World Jurassic Park, the Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus are portrayed as protective parents, actively defending their young from the human intruders. While knowledge of dinosaur behavior is limited, we can use modern animals to speculate how they may have behaved. Dinosaurs likely had varying levels of parental involvement, with some abandoning the young immediately after laying the eggs; others may have maintained family units, with individuals at various stages of life traveling together. Maiasaura, which means "good-mother lizard," was one of the most impressive finds which reveals that some dinosaurs definitely cared for their young. Others dinosaurs, such as sauropods, likely abandoned their young after laying the eggs. Their young had developed leg bones and could flee to safety. Further evidence is needed to conclusively say whether or not the animals in the film were caring parents.

How accurate was the Compsognathus?

The Compsognathus longipes is first featured in The Lost World Jurassic Park, adapted from the Procompsognathus triassicus depicted in the novels. These animals are portrayed as extremely viscous pack hunters, collectively attacking humans. In reality, there is no evidence of pack-hunting behavior in this dinosaur species and only two specimens have ever been discovered. Interestingly, the remains of a lizard preserved along with one of the specimens indicates that it was one of the dinosaur's last meals. It is probable that these dinosaurs fed on small reptiles, fish, insects, and whatever else they could find. Studies of similar dinosaurs suggest that Compsognathus was actually covered in feathers.

How did Isla Sorna support so many predators?

In the novel The Lost World, the issue of predator-prey dynamics is explored while the film cannon does not address the problem. On Isla Sorna, we witness a variety of predatory animals, which some would suggest are too high given the amount of prey animals on the island. The animals were created to be showcased in a theme park and intended to be supplied with food. When the island was abandoned, the animals had to adapt to their new environment. Different predators likely filled a different niche, with T.rex hunting different animals than the Velociraptor and the tiny Compsognathus. This offers an example where "life finds a way," as the animals most adapted to their ecosystem may drive others to extinction once again. Certain species would adapt to available sources of food. It is likely that the flora of the islands consists of many fast growing plants that sustain the dietary needs of the herbivores.

What about the lysine contingency?

Amino acids are components of proteins. Most animals can manufacture some amino acids and need to acquire others from their diets. These amino acids needed from the diet are referred to as essential amino acids. It is odd that lysine was chosen, as most animals, including humans, acquire the lysine that they need from food. The animals managed to survive in this manner after the park workers stopped feeding them.

Fact checking provided by Tom Parker