Animatronic Dinosaurs

By | September 9, 2016

You’ve probably seen dinosaurs brought to life in movies, and you may have been lucky enough to see a moving dinosaur at a special exhibition. Some of these are animatronic dinosaurs, and they take a long time to build. They look very realistic, but they are really just mechanical puppets.

LIFE-SIZED

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This animatronic Tyrannosaurus was made for an exhibition in 2007.

Inner robot
Animatronic dinosaurs are not completely true-to-life. This Tyrannosaurus is much fatter than it would have been, but a slender dinosaur body would not have hidden the robot’s inner workings.

HOW IS IT DONE?

An animatronic dinosaur begins life as a sketch, and takes months to build. These pictures were taken during the building of the Tyrannosaurus used in The Lost World (1997), the second Jurassic Park film. Not all the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park films were animatronic models. Many were “CG dinosaurs” – computer-generated 3D models.

A BIG COVER UP

The dinosaur’s skin is set over a plastic and steel frame, much of which has to be welded into position.

KILLER JAWS

Teeth are glued to the jaws, the mouth is lined with flesh-coloured latex, and flexible skin is wrapped around the steel skull.

PUPPET MASTER

The dinosaur’s movements are controlled by a “telemetry suit” worn by an operator. This suit controls the arms.

TAKE A LOOK

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Peter Dilworth and his animatronic dinosaur, Troody

Animatronic dinosaurs are not only used for films and shows. US scientist Peter Dilworth hopes the technology will one day help people with disabilities. His 45 cm (18 in) tall robotic dinosaur is a replica of Troodon, a Cretaceous meat-eating dinosaur. It was nicknamed “Troody”. Troody took five years to develop and can rise from a sitting position and walk on its own.

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