(This blog contains spoilers and also assumes the reader is familiar with Jurassic World)
I got to thinking about the Indominus Rex and within the film’s internal logic and it took me to a worrying place. Claire’s decision to release the Tyrannosaurs Rex to help fight the I-Rex was catastrophic. This is unapologetically geeky: you have been warned.
My initial musings were on the terrible special effects of the dying Apatosaurus that Chris Pratt’s Owen hugs. Then I was wondering, why is it even dying? Yes, it has big flesh wounds, but it’s a huge creature, its neck wasn’t damaged, its guts were all still in, these animals were basically built to survive flank tears. I-Rex has never learned to hunt and has never killed anything other than its infant sibling (presumably very early on) and a couple of puny humans a few minutes before. It has zero experience of massive sauropods, let alone of killing them.
The film pans to Chris Pratt’s view of the paddock, where the five more dead adult Apatosaurus are strewn out, all killed by the I-Rex. This is doubly implausible because we know that however deadly the I-Rex was, Apatosaurus was a tough cookie. It evolved at the same time as Saurophaganax and Tovosaurus in late Jurassic North America, so was biologically designed to defend itself against large predators. Saurophaganax was about as large as a T-Rex and probably preyed on Apatosaurs, Brachiosaurs, Diplodocus – the big game. You could argue that the park’s Apatosaurs would be less adept at self defence because they grew in an artificially safe environment, but A) we see an Ankylosaurus defending itself pretty naturally when I-Rex attacks, and B) I-Rex has also never learned the law of the jungle firsthand.
Apatosaurs probably formed an inward facing circle when attacked and whipped their tails out at predators to fend them off, often with deadly success. If I-Rex had attacked them all and won, they should logically have been much closer clustered. If the I-Rex was so badass that she made them stampede, then they should be much further spaced because, even implausible surface-killing aside, you’d have expected the surviving herd to be able to stampede much further away than a few metres each time I-Rex started killing one. To kill them all so close together, I-Rex must have been many any times more deadly than Saurophaganax.
Don’t forget that initial level of pernickityness.
So I-Rex. The genetically engineered super attraction, a blend of various carnivores. This blend is crucial to the plot because it explains how the I-Rex uses camouflage, how it avoids infra red sensors, and most of all, how when Owen’s trained raptors attack it, it is able to communicate with them smoothly and turn them on the I-Rex ‘alpha’. Initially I thought the problem with this was: Owen makes several comments in the first act about the I-Rex being isolated and therefore completely unsocialised, having killed its sibling early on, which is why it doesn’t understand the world outside its cage and just goes berzerk, killing indiscriminately. How does it suddenly have the social skills to talk to, an apparently command, a group of raptors that are trained, have a strong pack bond and are aggressive towards it?
But nah, that’s nothing.
What went into the I-Rex again?
“The base genome is the T-Rex, the rest is…classified”
“Mommy’s very angry”
– Ian Malcolm
The I-Rex’s basic gene structure is T-Rex. Not only is it T-Rex, it is probably the exact genes of the T-Rex that we see Claire release, because it’s unlikely they’d have recovered even more TRex DNA. We know from Jurassic Park: Lost World that T. Rexes are also social animals in the series opinion, because the two parents act together in trying to rescue their and in taking revenge for its kidnapping, then later the mother communicates with the baby in teaching it to hunt snivelling InGen CEO Peter Ludlow. There is further evidence for T-Rex’s communication ability in Jurassic World itself when, after I-Rex is eventually killed by the Mosasaur, it seems to pass some kind of understanding with the one surviving raptor.
In other words, the series’ T-Rexes are just as able to communicate as raptors and the T-Rex that we see in Jurassic World is probably genetically similar, or ‘family’, to the I-Rex.
According to the film’s own logic, I-Rex should be just as likely to communicate with this T-Rex as it is the raptors, if not more so, because its DNA is mostly T-Rex.
When Claire opens the T-Rex paddock, she should have seriously considered that her plan for ‘more teeth’ might well be a huge assistance for her aggressor. Unlike the raptors, there has been no Owen-esque attempt to train or communicate with the park’s T-Rex: there is no plausible hope that it can be reasoned with and converted to the humans’ side like Blue the Friendly Raptor was.
Even ignoring this, various parts of the series’ dialogue points to T-Rex being a territorial animal. After years and years as a caged attraction, it’s reasonable to assume that the park’s T-Rex would consider its paddock its territory. While Clare was believable in drawing it out of the paddock with the flare (excellent shot btw), it has no real reason to attack the I-Rex. I-Rex is an unknown quantity, very plausibly (and deliberately) more dangerous than T-Rex. T-Rex is outside its paddock so has no reason to attack in territorial defence. T-Rex’s first thoughts on getting out were, I imagine, ‘Eat Claire’. Faced by an equal or superior predator in IR, the T-Rex could very easily have backed down.
There’s also the question: why not release Spinosaurus? We know from JP3 that the series’ Spinosaurus is larger and stronger than T-rex as it kills one efficiently in an early JW3 encounter. There are various bits of Spinosaur merchandise around the park, and inGen obviously had its DNA, so presumably it was about. Claire waxes early in Jurassic World about the importance of keeping things fresh with a new big attraction every few months, so it’s hard to imagine they don’t have one. Why didn’t she release it? The Spinosaur would have the added benefit of it not (as far as we know) sharing any of I-Rex’s DNA. It seems like the logical choice, but she went with T-Rex instead.
One off best case scenario: what happens in the film.
Medium case 1: T-Rex does not attack I-Rex. Retreats back into its paddock or off into the rest of the park, where there are still lots of edible herbivores and thousands of rich, scared humans.
Medium case 2: I-Rex and T-Rex do fight. There is no way T-Rex would’ve been able to take down the Apatosaurs like I-Rex did, let alone at the I-Rex’s ferocious speed. I-Rex is a vastly superior predator. With or without one pesky raptor, I-Rex wins easily. (But for the completely unpredictable Mosasaur,) I-Rex eats the main characters.
Worst case but perfectly likely: Together the two most dangerous animals are on the loose and work together to take out Owen, Claire and the kids, then move onto the juicy feast of park refugees at the harbour.
Thanks Claire, you poorly written silly corporate woman who just needs some kids to spark your appropriate maternal instinct and a rugged ex-soldier man to love. Thanks a lot.