Wednesday, April 10, 2013

'Jurassic Park' tracks and poop, now in 3-D!

Universal Pictures

By Carol Clark

One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is the one with the cups of water in the 1993 science fiction classic “Jurassic Park.” The kids are trapped in an enclosed Jeep. It’s raining and dark. Then a series of faint, low “booms” grows slowly louder as the water in a pair of plastic cups on the dashboard trembles, signaling the approach of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

While most people fixate on the horror of the giant teeth and powerful jaws of an approaching T-rex, Emory paleontologist Anthony Martin is tickled by the thought of all the lovely, deep tracks the dinosaur is leaving in the mud with each booming thud of its triple-toed feet.

Martin is an ichnologist, specializing in the study of life traces like tracks, tooth marks and scat. He was among the first to rush out and see the recently released 3-D version of “Jurassic Park.”

The 3-D version is a chance for a whole new generation to enjoy the cheesy thrills of Steven Spielberg’s masterful tribute to dinosaurs. And just to make sure viewers get a bit of real science along with their popcorn, Martin has written a post called “The Ichnology of Jurassic Park” for his "Life Traces" blog. It’s a must-read before you make tracks for the theater.

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