Jurassic Park: Third Iteration
Grant realizes that if dinosaurs can be cloned, his field of study will change instantly. The paleontological study of dinosaurs will end. The big puzzle for Grant is where the researchers got dinosaur DNA from. As Grant and Ellie get their first glimpse of the park, Regis says that the foliage in the park has been selected to give a prehistoric atmosphere. Ellie notices that one of the ferns at the side of the swimming pool is poisonous, and she thinks that the designers of the park have not been as careful as they should have been. Inside their accommodations, Grant and Ellie notice that the doors are steel-clad and there are heavy bars on the skylight.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
They all meet in the visitor building. Gennaro tells them they are about to tour the park. He asks them to assess whether the park is safe for visitors. He mentions the many incidents of lizard bites in the villages, and shows graphs that indicate an unusual pattern of infant mortality in the towns on the western coasts of Costa Rica. The Public Health Service in San José suspects that something is affecting these figures that is not being reported by the workers in the coastal villages. Malcolm immediately explains it by saying that the animals have likely gotten off the island, although he also says that this is not the explanation for the unusual statistics. He explains that it is not possible to create an isolated environment as the park designers wish. Nature cannot be controlled in this way. The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Hammond’s two grandchildren, eleven-year-old Tim and seven- or eight-year-old Lex.
Tim recognizes Grant, since Grant is the author of one of his favorite books, The Lost World of the Dinosaurs. He knows that Grant is one of the principal advocates of the theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Tim tells Grant about the dinosaur skeletons he saw at the Museum of Natural History. He has no idea of what the island is for; his mother has told him it is just a normal resort.
Ed Regis, the public relations director for Jurassic Park, is their guide for the tour. They visit the laboratory, where Henry Wu, the chief geneticist at Jurassic Park, explains where they get dinosaur DNA. It comes from amber—the fossilized resin of prehistoric tree sap. The amber trapped and preserved insects which had fed on dinosaur blood. The blood then yields the DNA. Next, the researchers use powerful computers to identify the DNA they have extracted. The visitors go into another room and Wu shows them on a computer screen the structure of a small fragment of dinosaur DNA. The computer provides information about what is missing in each fragment, and the researchers are then able to repair it.
Nedry, the computer expert who created the park control system but he was not told what the park was for, is bored by the tour. Tim also becomes impatient with all the technical language. They go into another laboratory where Lex and Ellie also become bored. Their next stop is the hatchery, where the dinosaur eggs are hatched. The eggs all lie on a table and are moving gently. The survival rate of the baby dinosaurs is only four percent, but the researchers are aiming to improve that. Then the visitors are shown the nursery, where the newborns are. They examine a baby raptor, the size of a small monkey. Wu tells them that none of the animals can breed, which is why the park has the nursery. The animals are sterile and they are all female.
On being questioned by Malcolm, Wu admits that they have made a large number of procompsognathids (compys). They are useful because they eat the excrement of the other animals. Wu insists that it could not have been one of the compys that bit Tina, the little American girl. He says the dinosaurs have been engineered to be dependent on a certain amino acid that they would be unable to obtain in the outside world, but which they are supplied with at Jurassic Park.
As they are about to enter the control room, they catch sight on the monitors of a supply boat docking, and they have to wait. Regis tells them they will not see the full-grown raptors on the tour, because they are still confined to the holding pen. Grant discusses raptors with Tim. Grant says they are quick, strong and probably intelligent. As the group walks down a dirt path, three raptors, safely confined behind a fence, try to attack them. They are repelled by the electric fence. Grant is astonished at how fast the animals are.
Wu talks with Hammond in Hammond’s living room. Wu wants to replace all the current stock of animals with newly created ones. He wants to breed slower, more domesticated dinosaurs, because he think that is what people expect to see. But Hammond is happy with things as they are and does not listen. While Hammond speaks on the phone, Wu reflects on his dissatisfactions. He feels his expertise and his achievements should be rewarded with more influence, but he realizes that the work is virtually done and Hammond does not need him any more.
Grant and his companions finally enter the control room. The chief engineer, John Arnold, boasts about all the sophisticated control mechanisms they have to track where the animals are in the park. Motion sensors cover ninety-two percent of the park area. Gennaro questions him about the security of the control system, and Arnold insists it is impregnable. Gennaro is convinced that everything is safe, but Malcolm insists that he knows for certain that animals have escaped, although Gennaro does not understand Malcolm’s reasoning.
Grant’s party gets into two electric Land Cruisers and the tour begins. They pass through a grove of palm trees and a few minutes later see some small dinosaurs, called othnielia, in trees, and some hypsiophodonts, which are lizards. Then they move on to see the larger dinosaurs.
Back in the control room, Arnold is worried about all the details. He is unhappy with the progress that still has to be made before the park officially opens. He lists all the potential problems regarding control of the animals, but Hammond gets impatient with him and will not listen. There are also bugs in the computer system. On the tour, the visitors now see a dilophosaurus, which is ten feet tall and poisonous. They then pass more herbivores, triceratops serratus, who weigh about seven tons each but are docile.
The tour party is anxious to see a tyrannosaurus rex. A goat is placed in a field and they wait. In the control room, Hammond and Muldoon, the game warden, watch. Muldoon is fully aware of how dangerous the animals are, and has requisitioned laser-guided missile launchers to deal with an emergency. The tyrannosaurus rex appears and devours the goat.
Wu and Hammond agree the park is safe, but Hammond is worried that Gennaro may try to get them shut down. Muldoon fetches a Shoulder Launcher and two rockets from the basement store. The Land Cruisers stop at a swamp, where the visitors observe the largest dinosaurs, commonly known as brontosaurus, which weigh more than thirty tons. Tim thinks he also sees a raptor, but Regis tells him it could not have been. A storm is brewing and the cargo vessel at the dock requests permission to leave, even though it has not finished unloading. If it does not leave, the ship will be pounded against the dock by the storm.
The visitors in the Land Cruisers stare at a stegosaur. Dr. Harding, the vet, is anaesthetizing the animal, which is sick. The visitors get out to take a look. Ellie figures out that the stegosaurs get sick because they are eating poisonous berries. Malcolm continues to tell Gennaro about chaos theory, and why the park animals will behave in an unpredictable manner. Grant finds a velociraptor egg, which disproves the notion that the dinosaurs on the island cannot breed.
Hammond says the egg must be a bird egg. But at the insistence of Malcolm, Arnold tries different ways of counting the animals on the computer. The count reveals that there are 292 animals in the park, much higher than the official figure of 238. Malcolm concludes that the animals, including the deadly velociraptor, are breeding. Wu cannot believe it, because all the dinosaurs are female.
Grant tells Wu that they must find the dinosaur nests. He also says he thinks he knows how the animals are able to breed, even though they are all female. Malcolm explains more of his theories to Grant. He is concerned that they are now at a very dangerous point. Tim and Lex spot three juvenile raptors on the supply boat that is heading for the mainland. They try to call the control room so that they can recall the boat, but their radios are not working. It turns out that Nedry is using all the telephone lines for some data transmission. Then there is a power outage in the park. All the floodlights go out and the road is in darkness. The power in the buildings remains on, however. Arnold in the control room tries to find Nedry to fix the problem, but he is gone. It transpires that Nedry is the man who is working for Dodgson of Biosyn. He goes into the fertilization lab and steals two frozen embryos of each of four dinosaur species. He uses his knowledge of the security system to cover his tracks. He then takes a Jeep from the underground garage and drives off into the park. In the control room, Arnold realizes that the electrical fences are no longer active, which means that the animals can get out.
There is a lot of scientific talk in the “Jurassic Park” chapter about the changing ideas of scholars as to what dinosaurs were like, whether they were cold-blooded or warm-blooded, whether they were fast or slow, whether there was a possibility that they could be cloned. When Crichton discusses known scientific developments like this, he is sure of his facts and he wants the reader to believe them.
However, for the sake of the excitement of the story, Crichton also invented certain elements and applied them to his dinosaurs in the park. He has often emphasized in interviews that Jurassic Park is a “fantasy,” and should not be considered to represent scientific truth in every aspect of the story. For example, the idea that dinosaurs could be cloned from the remnants of DNA left fossilized in insects trapped in amber (first discussed in this section, on p. 101), is not something that scientists believe is a realistic possibility (in the novel, not even Grant had thought of the possibility).
Two more examples of Crichton’s flights of imaginations have occurred already. The first was when Grant and Ellie found intact, full-body fossils in a fossil bed in Montana. The truth is that most fossil beds produce only a jumbled collection of bones. Sometimes it is impossible to know if the bones belong to the same creature, or what that creature might be. The second example is when on the tour, the visitors see a dilophosaurus, which is supposedly able to spit poison. But there is no fossil evidence to support the idea that the dilophosaurus could spit. (These examples are taken from the Academy of Sciences website, http://www.calacademy.org/casnews/oct96/feature1.htm)
The genre of the suspense thriller is different from the mystery genre, but Crichton does not scorn the chance to create an old-fashioned mystery when he has the opportunity. The mystery is over the identity of the InGen employee who is going to steal the frozen embryos. In the chapter, “Version 4.4,” it is emphasized how dissatisfied Wu is, because Hammond no longer listens to him. This is a hint that Wu may be the culprit, but of course this turns not to be so when, eight chapters later, the thief is revealed as Nedry. Like all good mystery writers, Crichton inserts a red herring (a red herring is something used to confuse, to divert attention from something else) to add just that little bit more interest for the reader.