SPIELBERG’S RAPTOR | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

SPIELBERG’S RAPTOR

YOU JUST FOUND SPIELBERG’S RAPTOR!”

Paleontologist Robert Bakker’s exclamation to his colleague, Jim Kirkland, on the phone back in 1991 was quite literally about a big discovery.

Digging in Gaston Quarry in Grand County, Utah, Kirkland had uncovered fossils of giant newly discovered raptor. Snout to tail, the ferocious creature would’ve been about 20 feet long and six feet tall, with long, curved, razor-sharp talons on each foot measuring nearly a foot in length.

At the time, Bakker was consulting with some of the dinosaur artists on Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Jurassic Park, and he had a problem. He knew the now-iconic Velociraptors in the movie were going to be about three times larger than they actually were — or exactly the size of Kirkland’s soon-to-be-named Utahraptor (pronounced “Utah-raptor”).

Bakker tells this story in the preface of his book Raptor Red, a 1995 novel told from the perspective of a Utahraptor in the Cretaceous period. It was the perfect additional reading for dinosaur-obsessed ‘90s kids like me. In years afterward, I thought about the story of that phone call, where Bakker told Kirkland about “Spielberg’s raptor.”

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