How the cast of Jurassic Park should really look

Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novel was arguably the high point of his career as a writer, but director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp obviously made some changes to the novel's story when they adapted it for the big screen. The filmmakers took some liberties with the appearances of the book's human players, but the most dramatic departures relate to the dinosaur "cast."

First, let's cover the film's hero, paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant.  We've done some Photoshop work in the above image to visually show you how he might have appeared if Sam Neill's look was more closely in line with the way the character is described. Most notably, in the book Alan Grant sports a beard and is barrel-chested. This is likely because renowned paleontologists Bob Bakker and Jack Horner—both facial hair aficionados—were Crichton's inspiration for the character. A picture of either of these men from the 1980s is a closer approximation to how Crichton meant Grant to look. Also worth noting is that, in the book, Grant is fond of children. The movie version of Grant is irritated by John Hammond's grandchildren, but eventually warms up to them. Another difference: Grant is a single widower in the novel, but has a relationship with Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) in the movie.

Tim and Lex Murphy

Tim and Lex Murphy are the grandchildren of Jurassic Park's founder, John Hammond. In a dramatic display of carelessness, he decides to bring them to Jurassic Park. In the movie, Lex is the eldest sibling, but in the novel the 11-year-old Tim is actually older. The Tim character in both the movie and book is obsessed with dinosaurs. Steven Spielberg gave his computer knowledge to Lex in the movie—presumably so sis would have something to contribute to the story. The novel's version of Lex is whiny and basically useless against the dinosaur menace. The age switch, perhaps not coincidentally, also allowed director Steven Spielberg to fulfill a promise to young Joseph Mazzello. "Steven had me screen test with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for Hook," said Mazzello in a 2013 article. "I was just too young for the role. And because of that, Steven came up to me and said, 'Don't worry about it, Joey. I'm going to get you in a movie this summer.' Not only a nice promise to get, but to have it be one of the biggest box-office smashes of all time? That's a pretty good trade."


The velociraptors in Jurassic Park are larger than human beings and possess a reptilian appearance. The movie's version of the dinosaur is largely in line with the velociraptors in Michael Crichton's novel, yet both depictions are incorrect. For one, we now know what velociraptors were covered in feathers. Also, the velociraptors in the the movies and books are significantly larger than the actual animal: a real velociraptor may have come up to about waist height on a fully grown human. The dinosaurs in the movie are closer to the velociraptor's larger cousin, deinonychus. While writing the novel, Crichton consulted paleontologist Professor John Ostrom, who discovered deinonychus, and essentially used deinonychus as the basis for the creatures in the book—but called them velociraptors because he thought it sounded more dramatic.

Tyrannosaurus rex

The Tyrannosaurus rex in the Jurassic Park movie fits our popular conception of the huge, reptilian, prehistoric predator—and more than 20 years later, it remains arguably the most accurate depiction of the creature in cinema. It's certainly closer than the tail-dragging Tyrannosaurus rex in the original King Kong. Nevertheless, Jurassic Park's version is still off-base from how the animal actually appeared. The present scientific consensus is that Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. We know this because a smaller Tyrannosaur discovered in 2012, Yutyrannus huali, had feathers. Would the Tyrannosaurus rex have been less fearsome if it had looked like this in the movie? You know, with cute down feathers? We'll let you decide.


We all remember when computer specialist Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) met his end at the razor-sharp maw of a dilophosaurus. Sadly, the dino in this standout scene isn't very accurate at all. First of all, there's no evidence that dilophosaurus was venomous—this is simply an aspect of the animal that Crichton invented for the novel and Spielberg carried over into the movie. It did have the crests along its head, but the impressive frill featured in the movie before it spits venom is imaginary. Also, dilophosaurus was actually much larger than the dog-sized creature in the movie: it could grow to almost 25 feet long and weighed approximately 1200 lbs. Perhaps Spielberg and company didn't want to distract from the menace of the Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors by overemphasizing another large, predatory dinosaur.