Have you ever wondered if Jurassic Park is realistic? Jeff Goldblum’s sexual magnetism is most certainly accurate, but what of the dinosaurs?
Enter Mark Loewen PhD’09, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Utah and associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the U. In June 2022, Loewen critiqued the accuracy of Hollywood’s depictions of dinosaurs for Vanity Fair in a video (below) that has racked up more than 3 million views on YouTube.
“I love these movies—some of them are horrible, but I still love them,” says Loewen. And he’s uniquely suited for the job. In the early 2000s, he and his mentor Scott Sampson created a class called World of Dinosaurs, GEO 1040, where students watch movie clips and analyze the veracity of dino representation. He expanded this idea to create Science and Cinema, GEO 1000, a non-majors class that analyzes science in movies. By studying the dinosaurs, natural disasters, and science fiction presented onscreen, students learn fundamentals while having fun celebrating—or berating—various motion pictures.
“I view myself as an evangelist for science,” says Loewen. “Movies are a sneaky way of showing students at the U how cool these concepts are. I mean, isn’t this one of the most awesome classes you could take? Get a credit to watch movies and learn about the science.”
An alum of the Science of Cinema class now works at Vanity Fair and recommended Loewen for the video series, which coincided with the release of Jurassic World Dominion in 2022. A professional film crew shot his interview in the paleontology collections at the museum. If you watch the video closely, you can see specimens of dinosaurs that Loewen himself has discovered and named.