The 10 best dinosaurs from the ‘Jurassic Park’ movie franchise, ranked

Jurassic World Dominion
Image via Amblin Entertainment

Jurassic World Dominion hits theaters on June 10, bringing to a close the ‘World’ trilogy that began with 2015’s Jurassic World. But these recent hits were built on the foundations of Steven Spielberg’s world-changing 1993 hit Jurassic Park. That original (and let’s face it, best) entry is about to be referenced heavily in Dominion, with Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum joining forces for the first time since Isla Nublar all those years ago.

But enough about those boring mammals, let’s get into the real stars of the franchise: the dinosaurs! Over the years there have been hundreds of tons of genetically resurrected dinos on screen and many are now movie legends in their own right.

So, here’s the top ten. Those huge gates are opening and… “Welcome, to Jurassic Park.”

10. Pachycephalosaurus (The Lost World/Jurassic World)

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While most Jurassic dinos attack by biting or clawing, Pachycephalosaurus has a much blunter way of inflicting damage: its bony head. Created in the early days of the InGen project, Pachycephalosaurus were initially deemed too unmanageable for the first park and remained at Site B. That’s a testament to this dino’s destructive capabilities, especially as the engineers figured out a way to get a T-Rex onto the tour but not Pachycephalosaurus.

We got a glimpse of why they’re so hard to contain in The Lost World, with one of the hunters attempting to take shelter behind a car door. This proved to be a bad idea, as a powerful headbutt saw him thrown through the vehicle, smashing his legs in the process. It seems that some of the kinks had been ironed out by the time of Jurassic World, as Pachycephalosaurus could be observed in the reinforced “Pachy Arena” engaging in their trademark headbutt duels.

9. Gallimimus (Jurassic Park/The Lost World/Jurassic World/Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

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The CGI T-Rex and Raptors get a lot of attention in the original Jurassic Park, though the Gallimimus stampede is up there with the best set-pieces of the movie (and was one of the very first scenes Spielberg planned out). These speedy ostrich-like dinosaurs helped to cement the original movie’s links between dinosaurs and birds, which at the time was a relatively recent theory.

Gallimimus were also used for the first CGI dinosaur tests, with Spielberg being convinced to abandon his original “go-motion” effects after watching ILM’s test footage of the T-Rex pursuing a Gallimimus herd.

Since then, they’ve popped up in most of the movies, being seen in the wild in Site B in The Lost World and in Jurassic World where you could tour “Gallimimus Valley”. Still images from Dominion indicate that they’ve made it to the mainland and flourished.

8. Triceratops (Jurassic Park/The Lost World/Jurassic Park III/Jurassic World/Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

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One of the dinosaur classics, though has perhaps never quite gotten the focus it deserves. In Jurassic Park, this was the first dinosaur we got up close and personal with thanks to an incredible Stan Winston animatronic, though this also meant it remained laying on the ground throughout the scene.

Subsequent appearances have been a little more lively. We saw one attack the hunters in The Lost World, roaming the plains in III, and some adorable juveniles in the ‘Gentle Giants’ Jurassic World petting zoo. Triceratops were among the dinosaurs being auctioned off in Fallen Kingdom and were last seen escaping into the wild, so should play a role in Dominion.

We’re hoping they get a moment in the spotlight, as the characters facing off with a truly furious adult could be as terrifying as any large carnivore attack.

7. Baryonyx (Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

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Baryonyx is more of a deep cut for dino fans, having been discovered in England as recently as the 1980s. The Jurassic franchise teased it for years, with its name visible on the park map in Jurassic Park, mentioned in III, and featured on the promotional website for Jurassic World.

It wasn’t until Fallen Kingdom that we actually got to see it in action, with a specimen pursuing our heroes into a maintenance area while the island was erupting. Despite not being quite so fearsome as larger carnivores, it still put up one hell of a fight, even continuing to attack after being pelted with molten lava.

It appears that Baryonyx will go on to play some role in Dominion, with it being seen competing in some kind of underground dinosaur fight club facing off against a juvenile Allosaurus. We’re glad Baryonyx finally got a scene in Fallen Kingdom, so fingers crossed its Dominion appearance is more than a cameo.

6. Spinosaurus (Jurassic Park III)

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Spinosaurus didn’t exactly get off on the right foot with fans. Jurassic Park III apparently decided that audiences were overly familiar with T-Rex and decided to up the ante with a bigger, scarier predator. Universal cemented that by showing it defeat a T-Rex in battle, which is a bit like some unknown wrestler turning up and pinning the Undertaker. The crowd wasn’t happy.

However, taken on its own merits Spinosaurus is a very cool addition to the menagerie. Sure it behaves a bit more like a movie monster rather than an animal, but the twist of its arrival being teased with the ringtone of the satellite phone it swallowed is pretty fun.

Sadly, it seems that only one Spinosaurus was ever created by InGen, though it did appear as a skeleton in Jurassic World. This allowed T-Rex to get a little payback, as it smashed through the skeleton while on its rampage.

5. Compsognathus (The Lost World/Jurassic Park III/Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

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Compsognathus (or, as they’re usually called, ‘Compys’) are proof that a dinosaur doesn’t have to be big to be deadly. These approximately chicken-sized dinosaurs hunt in packs and their tininess makes them particularly tricky to track. For example, they weren’t supposed to be on Isla Nublar at all but managed to stow away from Site B on a boat.

In The Lost World, they attack in numbers and bring down one of the hunters in a particularly creepy death scene.

But they play a more important role in Michael Crichton’s novels. In Jurassic Park, the first hint that dinosaurs are back comes with some mysterious animal attacks in Costa Rica, with the culprit eventually revealed to be an escaped Compy. Later, in one of the bigger departures from the movie, a swarm of them kills and eats an injured John Hammond, who discovers that their bite has anesthetic qualities. Hammond promptly drifts away into bliss as the dinosaurs eat him alive. Brr.

We’ve seen them in the background of III and Fallen Kingdom, and they should also show up in Dominion as their adaptability allows them to seamlessly fit the wider ecosystem.

4. Dilophosaurus (Jurassic Park/Dominion)

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The Jurassic franchise tends to stay fairly close to the scientific consensus on how dinosaurs looked, acted, and moved but sometimes they get a bit more imaginative. That’s on display in Dilophosaurus, which was very different from all paleontological recreations: having a large colorful frill, the ability to spit a black neurotoxin, and being much smaller than the fossils indicate.

Some might scoff at the liberties taken here, but we’ve always seen it as a fun point that InGen couldn’t predict what abilities its creations would have, as the frill and poison glands wouldn’t be visible on a fossil.

Despite being one of Jurassic Park‘s most recognizable creatures, Dilophosaurus has remained offscreen ever since the first movie. That’ll change in Dominion, with the trailer showing the creature roaring at Claire Dearing with that eye-catching frill up. In a neat nod to criticisms of its first appearance, the Dominion Dilophosaurus seems to be roughly the height of the actual fossil, perhaps indicating that the beast we saw in 1993 was just a juvenile.

3. Brachiosaurus (Jurassic Park/Jurassic Park III/Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

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While this peaceful creature doesn’t provide many thrills, for us it feels like one of the emotional cores of the entire franchise. Brachiosaurus is the first dinosaur seen in Jurassic Park, with its unveiling (along with John Williams’ theme peaking) one of the greatest moments in movie history. For the characters, it’s proof that their world has changed forever, but for audiences, it was the first time a realistic creature had been realized entirely through CGI.

As a herbivore, Brachiosaurus tends to represent the majesty of the dinosaurs, which was underlined in a particularly sad scene in Fallen Kingdom. Despite the frantic evacuation attempt, the Isla Nublar volcano erupted with many dinos still on the island. As the boat pulls away we see a Brachiosaur — the exact same one that left Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler speechless — rear up and cry as she’s engulfed by the toxic smoke.

Excuse us, we’ve got… something in our eye.

2. Velociraptor (Jurassic Park/The Lost World/Jurassic Park III/Jurassic World/Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

Universal

Many audience members going into Dominion next week won’t be aware of how completely Jurassic Park reversed the public perception of dinosaurs. Though paleontology had advanced leaps and bounds throughout the 1970s and 80s, dinosaurs were still generally depicted as slow, stupid, tail-dragging monsters trudging to extinction in movies and TV.

Jurassic Park changed all that, with one of the core elements being the Velociprator. Human-sized, fast, and above all intelligent, they were an instant hit. Velociraptors have gone on to appear in every single Jurassic-themed piece of a media, though the fun twist of Jurassic World was that the ‘trained’ Raptors were essentially on the side of the heroes.

One of them — Blue — even has her own character arc and ongoing story. She’s imprinted on Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady and appears to show some level of self-awareness beyond other Raptors. In Dominion, we’ll see Blue with her new daughter on the mainland, so here’s hoping she gets a happy ending.

1. Tyrannosaurus Rex (Jurassic Park/The Lost World/Jurassic Park III/Jurassic World/Fallen Kingdom/Dominion)

Universal

C’mon, did you really think the number one spot would be anything else? The T-Rex is front and center on the Jurassic logo, at the core of all the marketing, and audiences would revolt if it didn’t show up to chomp one of the more unpleasant human characters. Most of the best sequences in these movies revolve around T-Rex in some way, from the still-incredible car attack of the first movie right through to it saving the day in Jurassic World and escaping at the end of Fallen Kingdom.

One of the neatest things about all this is that the vast majority of its onscreen appearances are the same T-Rex. Nicknamed ‘Rexy’ by fans, she’s recognizable by the scars on her neck and face caused by the Velociraptors she faced off against in the climax of Jurassic Park. At this point, Rexy has saved the human characters so many times from other dinos that she’s considered something of an antihero — though obviously an inadvertent one.

Despite audiences now being very familiar with the Jurassic T-Rex, there’s still a thrill whenever we hear her signature booming footsteps and deafening roar. For us, she’s the epitome of movie magic and we can’t wait to see what she’s doing on the newly dinosaur-infested Earth in Dominion. Perhaps the only worry is that Rexy’s now well into old age for a T-Rex, though we’re still sure she’s got it where it counts.