back from extinction

Essays in Existentialism: Jurassic

I really love your fics so I was wondering if you’ll pleaseee write a clexa jurassic park au Tks

“Most meat eaters walked on two feet. This made them faster and left their hands free to grab their prey,” the professor explained, clicking the pointer so that the page changed. “Most plant eaters walked on four feet to better carry their heavy bodies. Some plant eaters could balance on two feet for a short time.”

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While not normally arboreal as adults this large male Blue Iguana climbed this tree after significant rainfall which left the ground slightly flooded.

In 2007 I had the great privilege of visiting Grand Cayman Island to work with and document the critically endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) with the team at the Blue Iguana Recovery Program founded by Fred Burton.

Blue Iguanas are endemic only to the small island of Grand Cayman and as such are at risk habitat destruction, road kills, free-roaming dogs, and feral cats. Thankfully the Blue Iguana Recovery Program (B.I.R.P.) has brought this beautiful iguana back from the brink of extinction with breeding and release programs as well as the acquisition of habitat.

It is the largest native land animal on Grand Cayman with a total nose-to-tail length of 5 ft (1.5 m) and weighing as much as 30 lb (14 kg).

Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200mm
f5.6 1/400sec ISO640

#iguana #blueiguana #caymanisland #grandcayman #caribbean #wildlife #wildlifephotography #WildlifeConservation #shannonwild #reptile #lizard #blue

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I drew this a long time ago as a collaboration with my biologist friends to raise awareness about various endangered species and their habitats. Unfortunately we all got too busy and the project never took off. I found the file again and decided to post it anyway.

This one is about the Whooping Crane and how conservation efforts brought this endangered species back from near extinction. My friend, Joleen Tseng, worked with these beautiful birds and here’s her write-up about the importance of conservation for these birds and all species of life:

When we hear [the crane’s] call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.
–Aldo Leopold

Whooping cranes, North America’s tallest and rarest bird, have quite the story. Due to habitat loss and over hunting, these birds have fallen to just 21 individuals in the 1940s but through the enormous efforts of conservationists, local, national, and international governments, the Whooping cranes have recovered to around 600 individuals today. The story of the Whooping crane can be seen as a symbol of hope for endangered animals. Through intensive methods involving captive breeding, constant monitoring across nations, research, education, enforced protection, and specialized reintroduction programs, the Whooping cranes have been able to make an astounding recovery.
Whooping cranes have been blessed to be a “charismatic species” or in other words, a species with popular appeal. Their beautiful profiles trumpeting calls have inspired conservationists around the world to fight for their cause. However, many endangered animals are unable to gather as much popularity. Whether they may be considered ugly, small, or even “unimportant,” every animal has a place in the web of life and it’s our job as fellow animals to respect and uphold the system of nature that we are part of.

Ways to help:
Of course there are the standard ways to help Whooping cranes and other endangered species. Donate/ participate in citizen science/ support conservation organization or programs, etc.
If you’re lacking the funds, the best way to help conservation efforts and endangered animals is to educate yourself. Visit a wildlife refuge with your family. The money goes directly to helping efforts to restore endangered species habitat, monitoring, research, and education. Volunteer at nature centers, zoos, refuges. And most importantly, educate yourself. Take biology, take environmental science, look into zoology/ environmental science/ natural resource majors in college. All these can lead to a career in conservation. And last but not least, practice conservation: be mindful of waste, re-using, recycling, etc.

Twenty-third Christmas

the series is as follows so far:

FirstSecond ThirdFourthFifthFifth Christmas, Part 2SixthSeventhEighthNinthTenthEleventhTwelfthThirteenthFourteenthFifteenthSixteenthSeventeenthEighteenthNineteenthTwentiethTwenty-firstTwenty-secondTwenty-third

Here’s the last one … 23 chapters later … no idea it woud turn into this … and am totally glad it did :)

Thanks everyody who reblogged, noted, commented and tagged … you are all gods in my world and I appreciate you from the bottom of my soul :)

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Sitting quietly on the couch, fire crackling on the hearth, wind whistling in the eaves, Mulder put his head back, nestling in beside Scully’s as she read something or other with a pastel cover and a beach scene and a faceless woman wearing a floppy hat, “hey, Scully?”

Patiently, she put her finger in her book to hold her spot, “yeah?”

“I want to decorate the hell out of this place.”

She couldn’t fight the smile that burst forth, “only you would use hell to describe Christmas.”

“Come on. I think Maggie would like us to do it up right, our first Christmas back together and in her house to boot. We can intermingle her stuff and our stuff and I can go buy stuff for the front yard and porch.” Having sank his teeth into the idea, it was now exploding in his head, visions of inflatable things and blinking lights and evergreen garland, pointsettas and pinecones and cinnamon-smelling potpourri boiling on the stove, “I mean, it’ll be the stuff of Christmas dreams!”

“Okay, you had me with your overuse of the word ‘stuff’ but then you rolled out the emphatic Christmas dreams ending and moved it right on into over-saccharined insanity.”

Shifting sideways, he pulled his leg up, the ever present Flab jumping on his lap while Dagoo looked on, comfy from his blanket near the heat of the fireplace, “look, even Flab appreciates my saccharine enthusiasm. Look at her. She’d dying to have you say yes because she wants her own Grinch costume and Dagoo needs a Rudolph nose.”

“I think Dagoo wants you to be quiet so he can keep napping.”

He saw the moment he won and grinning, “we should go shopping.”

“Yes, we should.” Will’s voice drifted down the stairs where he’d been listening rapturously, with both mind and ear, feeling his father’s win and his mother’s amusement. Coming down further and poking his head past the wall, “right now. The Uncles will love it when they come over for Christmas.”

“That’s right, Scully. We’re gonna have like 20 people here for two days. We owe it to them to make this completely Maggie Christmas worthy.”

Not about to deny Will or Mulder a damn thing ever in life, Scully stood up, holding her hand out to pull him with her then gesturing towards the fire, “put that out so we don’t burn the house down and we’ll go buy out the Christmas sections of everywhere.”

Will hooted, racing back upstairs for a sweatshirt, Mulder gave her a big, wet kiss on the cheek and did as told while Scully just giggled in happy glee.

&&&&&&&&&&&

When the Gunmen had shown up with Will on that bridge, the world didn’t end but began anew, saving Mulder, getting everyone back to the hospital, aiming a homemade and completely genius EMP handheld device at the hovering ship, sending it and its government fuckers as Frohike called them, away for long enough to get the gang safely away in the boat parked just below the bridge.

She’d saved the world but more importantly, she’d saved Mulder with the help of Will’s blood and her ability to completely compartmentalize the fact that her friends were alive and had been hiding her son from her for the past 16 years. Science kicked in, she brought human beings back from the brink of extinction and when it was all over, she screamed at the Gunmen for three minutes apiece then broke down, crying with her equally emotional son in her arms.

Eventually, over the course of the following three days, while the world was vaccinated, her and Mulder learned the story of the past decade and a half of the Gunmen and Will in abstentia. In the silence that hung around them when Frohike finished, Scully breathed out the largest sigh of relief in her entire, God-damned life and looked at her boy, “will you come home with me and be our son again … if you can ever forgive me?”

More crying ensued and an hour or three later, Will moved into the Unremarkable guest room, which was neither a guest room nor unremarkable anymore, given it had proudly been a resting spot for Maggie and would now be the home of her grandson. Within a few weeks, an agreement was floated between the six of them, Scully, Mulder and William moving into Maggie’s home while the Gunmen took over the farmhouse, the basement perfect for computer equipment, enough room for the three of them and the solitude to which they’d become accustom.

They came over three times a week for dinner to see their nephew.

&&&&&&&&&&

Shopping had never been so much fun. Both Mulder and Will had carts, racing down aisles in the local Wal-mart, doing their best not to steer into rows and nearly failing with regularity and hilarity combined. They called back and forth over tall things because, as Mulder put it, Scully was a short thing and needed to be kept track of. They debated icicle lights or fat LEDs for the front porch. They held up garish stockings and neon pink garland and giggled in unison at the metallic orange Christmas tree on display.

They ended up spending nearly all of Scully’s paycheck and she couldn’t have cared in the slightest.

Once back in the car, they stopped for Frosties, eating them while shivering their way home before finally pulling in the driveway and unloading Scully’s filled to the brim SUV. In typical teenage boy fashion, Will informed them that since he was out of school for Christmas break and had absolutely no reason to get up early in the morning, he would like to start the decorating now.

Mulder couldn’t think of one reason to argue and Scully gave them an approving smile, “why don’t you two start and I’ll go make the hot chocolate.”

&&&&&&&&&

It took until the next evening to finish, sleep finally taking the three of them down around two a.m. and lasting until noon. By that night, however, the only thing left were the Christmas trees, standing bare on either side of the fireplace, Maggie’s on the left and theirs on the right. William sat between them, boxes of ornament surrounding his crossed legs, lids off, treasures waiting patiently to be hung. “So, Scullly, would it be better to mix all the ornaments or would you like to keep them separate? Maggie’s on Maggie’s and ours on ours?”

She couldn’t give him a definite answer through the tears suddenly streaming down her cheeks.

Mulder’s heart cracked and with his own eyes damp, he pulled her into a hug, “I think we should mix ‘em all up. I have a feeling Maggie’d like it that way; she’d know that we’re really back together for good this time because, I mean, nothing says steadfast togetherness like mixing the mother-in-law’s holiday decorations in with our own.”

Scully laughed against his shirt, wiggling one arm from her hold on him to ruffle through their son’s hair, “what do you think, Will? Mix or separate?”

“Already mixing, mom, so the question is moot.” He had his own small box on his lap from which he was pulling homemade things, a popsicle-sticky, glittery, shiny, gluey, messy, intricate, woven, carved assortment of historically significant baubles he’d made with the Gunmen over the years. He lay them out on the rug, “we should keep taking one from each pile, nine ornaments each, put them on one tree then do the same for the other. We’ll have an even distribution that way or at least as even as we’ll be able to get given I don’t know your ornament count but we’ll make do.” The silence that hung above him made him look up to see his father shaking his head in befuddlement and his mother about to burst into laughter, “what?”

Mulder nudged Scully with his elbow, “he is totally your kid.”

Pointing to one of Will’s ornaments, “he made a green sequin alien head. He’s both of ours.”

Will held the alien head up to Mulder, “I sure am.”

&&&&&&&&&&&&

It took most of the evening to hang 78 years worth of bulbs and memories, backstories being told for most, Will curious and open, questioning, commenting, loving the fact that he had a history, that he had a family with a history, that he was a part of that history. It was only when they’d finished that Scully suddenly realized, “if these are the things you made with your Uncles, what are they putting up on their Christmas tree?”

Will grinned, “I was confined to a building with them for 15 years, I made so many things that they’ll never miss what I took and besides, they wanted to give me more to bring home but I knew they wanted to keep a lot of it so believe me when I say, these aren’t even the tip of the iceberg … but I need to crash now so g’night and I’ll see you in the morning.” Giving both of them the long hugs they all needed all the time lately, he disappeared upstairs, leaving his parents to their standing and hugging and enjoying and occasional quick kissing.

Before anything got out of hand, Mulder pulled away from her, “I’ve got a gift for you.”

Because after several decades she was sure she knew what it was, she sat down, ready and waiting, grin on and hand out. Seeing her once he came back in the room, he chuckled, “no more surprising you is there?”

“Nope.” Waving her fingers in a hand it to me motion, “gimme.”

Laughing louder now, he sat down beside her, “it’s actually a two-fold gift. Here’s number one.” Opening the plain box, she found, resting quietly on the bed of cotton, the quarter necklace she had found in her mother’s possessions at the hospital, chain gone, Christmas hook attached. Before she could utter more than a small, confused, “Mul-,” he stopped her with a hand to the knee, “I know what that quarter is.”

She’d been wondering since the moment she found it, in the items envelope at her mother’s bedside, “how?”

“I gave it to her. Well, actually, she gave it to me. Back then, it was just a quarter from her purse but she gave it to me the night I met her, the night you were abducted by Barry. I was standing there, lost and confused and angry and scared out of my mind and I had to go do something, anything, just … find you. She’d watched me throw my cellphone at the wall at one point, frustrated as hell that no one was doing anything immediately, all talking and thinking instead of finding. Once I’d decided I needed to do something myself, she stopped me and gave me a quarter and told me to call her if I heard anything, regardless of time or information.” Stopping for a deep breath, he continued in a whisper, “I didn’t find anything out to call and tell her but I kept the quarter in my pocket anyway, holding it and hoping I’d need to use it soon. Eventually I got … we got you back but I kept the quarter anyways. I saw it as kind of my good luck charm at that point but then Maggie yelled at me and put me in my place for running with you so I had the quarter made into a necklace and I gave it back to her, telling her she’d never need a quarter to call me because we’d never be that far away again.”

Scully had been turning it over and over in her fingers, holding, spinning, twirling absently while she listened. When Mulder fell silent, she looked up at him, confusion still evident, “why didn’t you tell me when I found it or years ago, really?”

“Don’t be mad but it was a Maggie and me thing. It was ours. Our link. Our … connection to each other that was just ours. I never really had anything like that with my mother and …” now going sheepish on her, ducking his head, “I didn’t want to share it in case we went our separate ways. I didn’t want you to think of anything of your mom’s with a bad taste. I guess I figured a mystery was better than anger.”

Completely appreciating the logic, she first kissed his cheek, then kissed the quarter, dangling it in front of them, smiling through her ever-present tears, “I love it and the story and regardless of what may happen in the future, I’ve always loved you and always will so you don’t have to worry about that. I do however, wonder why you’re telling me now.”

“Because that was my last secret from you forever. I wanted everything out there when you got your second gift.” Reaching under the couch, he slid out a larger box, perfect size for a round bulb, “Merry Christmas part two.”

With that quizzical eyebrow he so very much loved to the ends of the Earth, he watched her open the box to a clear ornament, a piece of parchment paper rolled inside it, a handful of iridescent confetti heaped underneath it. Carefully unscrewing the sphere, she withdrew the paper, unrolling it carefully, reading intently then shaking her head in wonder, reading a second time just to be sure.

Once she looked up at him, eyes filled with twinkling amazement, he tossed the confetti in the air, covering them both, “so, will you be there?”

Her affirmative answer came in the form of her climbing eagerly onto his lap, straddling him, hugging him tightly as she whispered her, “I could never be anywhere else,” as she clutched her wedding invitation in her hand, the date printed as December 26, the time 2pm, the place being their front room.

“Gonna change your name? Let me make an honest Mulder out of you?”

As she kissed him once more behind the ear before shifting sideways, sliding down next to him, legs still akimbo around his thighs, “I was thinking more about Fox Scully. What do you say?”

Before he could answer, Will’s voice called down to them, in that uncanny way he had with timing, “I’m best man, right?”

Scully buried her head in his neck while he called back up to his son, “of course but you may have to battle it out with Frohike.”

“Naw, we’ll just tell him he’s Gunmen of Honor. He can be on mom’s side.”

“G’night, Will.”

“Night, Mom.”

Turning her attention back to her finally, very near future husband, “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Mulder.”

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Scully.”

@wolveria

Accredited zoos and aquariums do not focus on the entertainment factor. Modern zoos aren’t theme parks solely for entertainment like they used to be. SeaWorld is a theme park and not a zoo, for example. Good zoos and aquariums focus on education and awareness to the public, not giving a good show.

Besides, if nobody came to “gawk” at the animals, how do expect the zoos and aquariums to make enough money to continue upkeep for those animals? Conservation is expensive. 

And you’re SO right!! Zoos don’t do anything for conservation!!! At all! The Arabian oryx, golden lion tamarin, Puerto Rican parrot, black footed ferret, Californian condor, Kihansi spray toad, Przewalski horse, Karner blue butterfly, giant panda, red wolf, and the freshwater mussel just somehow magically came back from the brink of extinction without any sort of human intervention in the form of zoos. 

And it’s not like zoos and aquariums are currently working to save the blue-crowned laughing thrush, mountain chicken frog, white clawed crayfish, amur leopards, potosi pupfish, partula snail, blue eyed black lemur, ploughshare tortoise, scimitar horned oryx, african lions, african elephants, asian elephants, northern white rhino, black rhino, gharial, and more or anything.

Zoos dont do anything, am i rite lads :)

On my way to the airport yesterday, I was picked up by a cabbie named Chuck.

Chuck served in the Navy for 22 years. He worked, lived, and partied across the Pacific Islands until deciding to collect his retirement. When he saw my poster tube, we naturally got on the subject of why I was in Vegas, how I studied sea turtles and was presenting my research here, etc.

He thinks turtles in general are the coolest (“I mean, nothing else ‘cept maybe the armadillo has a shell! Think about that! That’s why they’ve been around so long!”), and one of the first things he said was, “I wish they’d start doing better and we’d bring ‘em back from the brink of extinction because man, they are such good eating

I didn’t bat an eye. I’ve heard this before; I also know that some very successful conservation efforts are borne out of a regular person’s desire to eat a species sustainably; that locals get involved with conservation efforts for this very reason. We chatted about this and I got to tell him about turtle excluder devices (TEDs) used in the shrimp trawling industry. We agreed how we would both much rather pay taxes that go to funding TEDs on every trawl boat in the Gulf than to our corrupt governor or legislator’s next mansion. That it’s hard for a seasonal fisherman to fund a $700 TED on a boat, or that scientists and government officials don’t get that he and his daddy and his granddaddy have been doing this their whole lives, and have a bad taste in their mouth from people telling them what to do and telling them that they know better.

Chuck may be “just” a cab driver, he may be a retiree, but he reads Science magazine. He may want TEDs so that he can sustainably eat shrimp, whereas I want them to save sea turtles and couldn’t care less about eating shrimp anymore. He’s plugged in, and he isn’t stupid; his background is just slightly different than mine, and we want the same things.

We naturally got onto the topic of climate change. Chuck acknowledges that something is going on, that the Earth’s climate is heating and changing. He’s not sure whether it’s entirely anthropogenic, and a 15 minute cab ride to the airport was neither the time nor the place for me to throw facts at him.

Instead, I focused on the fact that Chuck, regardless of the cause of climate change, wants to see humans try to make it better. He said, “We have got to do something or this (gesturing to the surrounding sprawl of civilization on either side of the highway) will all fall apart.”
So that’s what I said to him. I said, “Chuck you know, that’s it exactly. The science is pretty sound, our models are getting better and better every day, but at the end of the day, shouldn’t it just be enough that you want to make the earth a better place for everyone? That the sooner that we get past this rhetorical pitfall of ‘who dun it’, we can start to make actual, appreciable changes?”

Chuck must have been about 82 years old. I’m nearly 25. He’s been around, seen a lot. And he remarked to me at the end of the cab ride how much he enjoyed talking to me, how it made his day, and how this was a new, great way of thinking about climate change and activism. That we have nothing to lose by switching to sustainable resources, eating less meat, telling our politicians to get their acts together and make good on their climate summit promises.

I reflect on this on Earth Day, and because March for Science isn’t far from my mind today. I’m reflecting on how the newly published video narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson revs me up in certain ways, but how problematic I find some of its rhetoric, and some of the rhetoric on the March for Science official facebook page.

For whom is this video made? I’ll tell you, from the time I spent with him, Chuck wouldn’t have been compelled by this video. He’d have been indifferent at best, and angry at the worst. This video isn’t made for him. But isn’t it important that he, and people like him, be reached, encouraged to make a difference, feel like they’re not considered ‘less than’ just because they’re not scientists?

What did work was having a conversation with him. Being kind, talking about things person to person– no lecturing, no fact regurgitation. I think that my conversation with Chuck will have more of a lasting impact on him than seeing that video ever would. And talking with Chuck has had an impact on me too. It reminds me that I’m a citizen of the Earth just like him. And that outsider perspective is absolutely key to my work and how I relate to the science I do. What does it all even matter if it’s not positively impacting people like Chuck? What does it even matter if I can’t sympathize with the shrimp boat drivers that have to rely on a transient resource to put dinner on the table for themselves and their families?

It occurs to me that this conversation could have gone much more differently for Chuck if it had been a different person in his cab. If it had been a different sea turtle conference attendee, or a different scientist. That someone could have jumped down his throat for his ‘good eating’ comment, or his thoughts on climate change. And he wouldn’t have walked away from that conversation telling the person how he was going to go out and buy a book on sea turtles now.

We march for science, but let us also march for the people who stand to benefit from it, whose lives are made better from its advances. Let us march for them even when we don’t see quite eye to eye on certain issues, for certainly the issue of saving our planet is more important. I think far more often than not, we can all agree that something needs to be done. I think we’ll find that people are more willing than we realize to join in and help. And we need them if we’re going to win this fight.

Oneida runner racing to save his language from extinction

Back when he was 14, Evan John was content with a medal in each colour. At this year’s North American Indigenous Games, he’ll only be happy with gold.

Despite his success at the last Games in 2014, the 17-year-old long-distance jumper and sprinter started running because his uncle told him it was the only way to shine at lacrosse.

“I always wanted to play lacrosse. Growing up with it, it was the coolest sport,” John recalled. His uncle — hall-of-famer Duane Jacobs, who played professional lacrosse for the Rochester Knighthawks — "always told me I had to run.“

And run John did, attracting attention from school coaches. The 11th-grader now practices four times a week.

John still loves lacrosse, but said running has its own place in his life. "It’s more individual. What I put into it is what I’m going to get out of it.”

John’s prowess comes at a cost. He notes that staying in shape takes focus and dedication, and he has to juggle time on the track with full-time studies.

He applies that determined attitude to learning, too. He’s working on saving the Oneida language, which he says today has only about 55 fluent speakers left.

Renae Hill, executive director of the Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre in Windsor, Ont., called John “one of our success stories.”

He’s been taking Oneida language classes since 2014, Hill said, and even opens each meeting with a thanksgiving address.

“I like sharing my language. I’m proud of it,” John said, noting that learning and passing on knowledge is the only way to ensure Oneida culture kept alive and well. 

As much as John wants to win this year’s Games, he gives back, too. He works with kids in a high-school co-op placement, showing them that confidence leads to success. 

Like sharing his language, John believes teaching sports strengthens Oneida culture.

“It’s a way of connecting to other people and Nations,” he said. “That’s how we used to settle disputes. If we needed more hunting grounds, say — if we got into a dispute over that ground — instead of going to war and hurting each other, a good game of lacrosse would fix that." 

The rules had to remain fair, "even though it was a brutal sport,” he said, noting that it’s humbling and inspiring to promote these values through sport. "That’s the story I carry on.“

For the Oneida Nation of the Thames, sports are a "medicine,” explained John. "When I run, I run because I believe it’s a gift from our Creator,“ he said.

"People use a sport to speak,” said John, but also to help others speak. “Sport is my talent and I let it shine,” he said.

“It's a whole different way to connect to people.”

Southern White Rhinoceros - Africa

Over 98% of Africa’s Southern White Rhino’s can be found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya. They are the second largest land mammal in the world, after the elephant. They can grow to weight 3.6 tonnes, and have a longer skull and a more pronounced shoulder hump than their northern cousins, the Black Rhino.

A conservation success story, they were brought back from the brink of extinction. In the early 20th century, it was estimated only 20 individuals remained in the wild. Now, the Southern white rhino is the most abundant sub species of rhino in the world, with over 21,000 individuals living in the wild. Despite all these efforts, the rhino is still under a great threat from poachers, who illegally trade their horns.

‘Rare cultivars of Tuscan and Umbrian fruit put on a vibrant autumnal display at this ancient monastery in the High Tiber Valley. Isabella dalla Ragione has spent over 40 years searching convents, family estates and abandoned farms for forgotten species of tree, bringing many back from the brink of extinction. Rebuilt after an earthquake in the 18th century, the chapel of the monastery still functioned as such until the Second World War. Its sacristy contains traces of a 14th-century fresco. The art-school dummy on the armchair gets brought out to make fourteen at the dining table if there are only thirteen guests.’

 Photography: Tim Beddow for World of Interiors, September 2014 ..

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Title: You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Author’s Notes: This is a little ditty that’s my answer to all those, Jon can’t help but fall for Dany because she’s so awesome and Sansa will be left brokenhearted.  Really, how often do things work out in Game of Thrones? Just a warning, some may find it angsty.


The invitation is a surprise on many levels; one that she was getting married and two that she had invited him to the wedding.  However, it isn’t a surprise, for who would not want to marry the beautiful Queen of the North who saw her people through the long night and has brought them back from the brink of extinction to prosperity now that the winter snows have melted away.  And protocol dictated that she invite her cousin, the King of the South, to her wedding.

But the invitation was followed by a letter, this time from the woman he still considered his sister and it contained a simple message.

Do not come if you intend to make trouble for Sansa. You’ve broken her heart once. I will not let you do so again.

His fist crumpled the wedding invitation and he felt old wounds reopen at Arya’s words.  Jon had half a mind to not go to the wedding, but he had to.  As King of the South his presence was required, but he was not sure how he could bear to see the woman he loved married to another.

So he gathered the overly large retinue that for some reason a king must always travel with and made the journey North.  The people bowed to him respectfully, but without love.  There was no hatred there either. That was reserved for his late wife, Daenerys, who after a year on the throne showed that she did not escape the Targaryen curse of madness.  Now the people in the South waited.  Waited and watched to see if he too would show the illness that plagued his family.  In the meantime, the South accepted that his rule was better than that of his wife who before she accidentally fell from her balcony on a windy day, made it a sport of burning small folk and nobles alike.

As Jon traveled further North, excitement and dread filled him.  The weight of the South and the throne he never wanted seemed to slip away as he encountered the cooler temperatures, the foliage and fauna he grew up with and the accent and attitudes of the people he loved best. But he was also dreading his reception at Winterfell.

After the war, he had believed himself to be completely in love with the beautiful dragon queen. She had lost all of her dragons in the Great War and had asked Jon to help her take the Throne in the South. Sansa had asked him not to go, reminding him of his promise to help her rebuild Winterfell and of something else.

“You said you loved me,” she had murmured quietly. “You were all that father promised me, someone brave, gentle and strong.  Why, Jon?  Why?”

A pang went through Jon.  He had never fully figured out his feelings for Sansa and then he had met Daenerys, so vivid and beautiful, so overwhelming, that he had pushed aside those confusing emotions for another.  “I do. I always will.  But not like that.”  He had kissed Sansa’s forehead.  “I love, Dany.” He truly believed that at the time, caught up in the majesty that was the Mother of Dragons, but only looking at the surface and not what was truly beneath the intoxicating veneer of her blonde hair and power over dragons.

Sansa had stiffened in his arms and nodded curtly.  “Then I wish you safe travels and success, Jon Snow.”

Those were the last words she had ever spoken to him.  But Sansa was not the only Stark who felt betrayed.

Arya glared at him.  “So, you’re abandoning your family in favor of her?”

“Dany is my family as well.  I’m a Targaryen.”

“You’re a Stark,” Arya had spat.  “Or least you were until something you thought was better came along.”

“Arya-“

“Don’t speak to me! You’re no brother to me!”

Jon had much time to think over his actions in the four years he had been in the South and away from Winterfell.  After the war, the South was in disarray, the years of Baratheon and Lannister rule as devastating the war with the Night King had been on the North.  It was with ease that Jon and Dany had taken the Iron Throne, but as they soon found out, it’s easy to conquer a broken and bleeding land, but much harder to stitch it back together.  Tyrion and Varys perished in the Great War, and while Davos tried his best, they found themselves ill-equipped to rule. Jon wanted no part in ruling so left many matters to Daenerys which in hindsight proved to be a grave error.

The events across the sea in Meeren should have been a lesson.  Daenerys, without any experienced advisors, struggled daily to rule a land she was not familiar with.  Coupled with the feeling from the South that she was a foreigner who had no right to the throne, dissent occurred almost immediately.  Without her dragons to enforce her rule, she relied on the brutality of her forces to keep order.  And they were brutal.  While the Unsullied could be counted on for their discipline, the Dorothki were another matter, and Jon found himself horrified by the rampages they would unleash on the lands.  Without her dragons to cow them, Daenerys struggled to keep them in check, but found she could accept their actions if they limited their rampages to the ones who opposed her.  Jon and Davos had tried to be a tempering force, but soon realized she was slowly slipping into a madness and cruelty.

But there were times that Jon glimpsed the woman he thought he had fallen in love with, the silver-haired beauty who warmed his bed.  Then the children came.  Misshapen and deformed, living only a few painful hours before the Stranger took them. Rumors spread the Mother of Dragons had become the Mother of Monsters.

In their third year together, one windy night, she stood on her bedroom balcony.  No one heard anything or saw anything, but the next morning, her broken body was found on the rocks below.  Some believe she thought she was going for a ride on her dragon. Others thought King Jon had pushed her or an assassin hired by some of the wealthier families.  The more charitable few had called it an accident.  Few mourned her death.

Jon found himself then sitting on a throne he never wanted.  He had his struggles too, but as the hero of the Great War, raised in Westeros by Ned Stark, a man who’s good reputation had been restored to an even more vaulted status, and cousin to the Queen of the North who had become an admired and beloved figure even beyond her own lands, the South was willing to give him a chance.

He wasn’t a great ruler, but he was fair and for now, the South was stable, but it was nowhere near the prosperity it once had and strangely, was being quickly out-paced by developments in the North.  Sansa had learned her lessons well, and paid for them dearly, in her time with the Lannisters and Littlefinger. She had turned into a great ruler and a savvy businesswoman, setting up profitable relations with lands that reached beyond Westeros and ensuring her people were fed and secure.  The North was flourishing.

It was after the first year of Jon’s reign that Davos approached him about marrying again.  A king needed a queen and more importantly, heirs.  Jon had neither.  The most logical and appealing choice would be the Queen of the North.

“I remember you had a certain affection for you cousin, Your Grace,” Davos had mumbled in embarrassment. “And more importantly, the South now needs the North.  We need their strength to help us in our recovery.”

Jon’s heart leapt at the idea.  He knew he had made a mistake following and marrying Daenerys.  Deep down, it was Sansa he should have married and now he had the chance.  For his heart and politically, it was the perfect solution.

Except two days letter, a marriage invitation came by raven and all of Jon’s hopes were dashed.

But perhaps they weren’t, Jon mused as the gates to Winterfell slowly opened for him.  This was obviously a political match for Sansa, something she had to do but likely did not want.    Maybe he could still stop this wedding.  She couldn’t be in love with this other man.  There was still a chance that he could marry Sansa and they would be together.

All hopes died when he met Sansa’s betrothed, a second son of a minor Northern house.  He was tall and broad of shoulder with light brown hair, a trim beard and kind eyes.  This was no political match.  Aside from a consort, Sansa had nothing to gain by marrying this man.

Except love.

Jon saw it clearly in how she looked at her betrothed, Ser Malcom of Galeswood.  Her eyes shone, her face gentled, and a becoming blush tinted her cheeks.  So different from the polite, cool gaze she favored Jon with.

Ser Malcolm was clearly besotted with Sansa.  He gazed adoringly at her and spoke to her with a gentle voice.

If his eyes did not tell him the truth, Arya did.

“They’re completely in love and Sansa is finally happy,” Arya warned him.  “You had your chance, Jon and you threw it away.  Don’t try to ruin this for her.  He’s a good man.  She’s finally found someone worthy of her.  Some brave, gentle and strong.  Let her have this.”

A pang went through Jon at his sister’s words.  He was supposed to be that person, but he had not been.  Instead he chased a glimmering dream that quickly turned into dust and all he was left with was a crown he never wanted and a lonely life.

Jon could have said something and almost did several times.  Especially when he would catch Sansa alone, looking more beautiful than she ever had.  His mouth would open, a hand reach out to touch her, but then she would catch sight of him and her lovely blue eyes would turn to ice and she would inquire whether he needed something.

The day of the wedding came and it was Bran and Arya who escorted their sister to Ser Malcolm. Jon did not even have a place by their side, instead regulated to a place of honor only for his position as King of the South.  He nearly wept when he saw Sansa, a lovely weirwood tree come to life with her red hair and the grey Stark dress embroidered all over with silver threads.

The wedding feast was a boisterous and happy affair, but Jon simply brooded into his cups.  While he had, again, a place of honor at the head table, he could not help feel as he did when he was the bastard of Winterfell, looking from the outside in on the happiness that surrounded the Starks and the latest addition to their family.  That should be him in Ser Malcom’s chair, next to Sansa, holding her hand and brushing a kiss against her soft cheek.  But it was not and all he had to warm him was his cup of Dornish wine.

Protocol dictated that the bride dance at least once with the King of the South.  Jon eagerly anticipated the opportunity to hold Sansa in his arms.  As one wrapped around her slim waist and his other hand engulfed her small one, Jon felt a moment of utter contentment and peace settle upon his soul.  He inhaled her sweet scent of lemon and roses and allowed the strands of her silky hair to tickle his cheek.  This was how it was supposed to be, he and Sansa together, in his arms forever.

“I have to thank you, Your Grace,” he heard her say.

“Please, Sansa, it’s Jon. It’s always Jon for you,” he murmured, still enjoying the illusion she was his, if even for a moment.

“Jon.  I do want to thank you.  You were right.”

Jon pulled back slightly and frowned at her in confusion.  “Right?  Right about what?”

Sansa quirked her lips at him, the first hint of a smile since he arrived at Winterfell.  “About us.  You were right to go South with Daenerys.  I thought there was something between us.  That maybe we were fated to be together.  But I know better now.”  She looked over at her husband and smiled happily at him.  “I understand you only loved me as your kin.  Not how I wanted you to.  I realize that now that I’ve found true love.

Jon felt his heart shatter in two.  He now understood what Sansa must have felt when he had said similar words to her four years ago when he declared his love for Daenerys.  

Sansa sighed and turned back to Jon, her face solemn.  “Thank you, Jon, thank you for being the level-headed one.  I think, I think I can finally be happy.”  She gave him a small smile and then leaned forward to kiss him chastely on his cheek.

Jon stood mutely as the song ended.  When she tugged on his arm slightly, he started and escorted her back to her groom before he mumbled some excuses and left the Great Hall.  He strode outside to breathe in the cold, Northern night air, not realizing tears had begun to leak from his eyes.

Too late.  Too foolish. I’ve lost her and I have no one to blame but myself, he chastised himself silently.

In the cold night air, he heard a voice from the past.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

The End.

(Meh. Maybe there might be other parts.)

Player Agency and Violence in Games

Recently, Toby Fox’s critically-acclaimed indie RPG Undertale has gotten a lot of attention for being a game that encourages pacifist runs, going so far as to have a tagline “nobody has to die.”

This is something the game has been praised for as most video games treat violence as being the default option for solving problems, and often the only option. While violence in games is by no means a bad thing in and of itself, the fact that it’s accepted as being the default means of progressing in most genres (with the exception of puzzle games, sports games, and life simulators) is creatively limiting. Undertale proves that there is a way to make a video game fun without having to force the player into the standard “kill or be killed” binary seen in most conflict-driven game narratives.

Of course, when it comes to Undertale, this isn’t anything new. Many people have praised the game for this, and it’s become one of the most commonly-cited reasons for why Undertale is seen as so subversive. However, I would argue that the subversion of violence as a necessary mechanic isn’t the reason that Undertale’s pacifism works so well. There’s something beyond that, and it demonstrates how the game has a much deeper understanding of the power dynamics behind violence than most other games. Namely, that Undertale repeatedly hammers home the point that all the monsters you’re killing basically have no chance of surviving if you actually demonstrate any intention to kill them.

We know that the monsters are no strangers to battle, and many monsters no doubt died when humans declared war on them. Pacifism was almost certainly not an option for the monsters at that point: they had to fight back to save themselves from extinction. Even during the game itself, the monsters that are actively antagonistic only act so because, as far as they know, they don’t have any means of freeing themselves from the hopelessness of the Underground outside of killing the player character and taking their soul. 

The player character, however, doesn’t have to resort to violence to achieve their goals, and the reason that they don’t have to is that it’s hammered home repeatedly that none of the enemies in the game pose any real threat to them. Even dying is ultimately rendered trivial by the power to save and load the game, which is acknowledged in-story as being a power exclusive to the player character. Pacifism is encouraged not only because violence unnecessary to making it through the game, but because if you do choose to be violent, there’s virtually nothing the other characters can do to stop you.

In this sense, Undertale isn’t just about pacifism: it’s also deeply understanding of how pacifism is fundamentally built on personal agency, something that distinguishes Undertale from most other games that allow for the possibility of pacifist runs. There is another game, however, that understands this dynamic very well, but approaches it very differently in execution.

Iji is a freeware game released in 2008 by the Swedish developer Daniel Remar, who also developed the freeware games Hero Core, Hyper Princess Pitch, and Princess Remedy. Like Undertale, Iji also encourages pacifist runs, but it does so in a starkly different way and for starkly different reasons. The game isn’t about morality of violence committed by a vastly overpowered main character as much as it is about the psychological effects of violence on the protagonist. The main character acts as a deconstruction of the “lone hero tears through hordes of enemy soldiers” trope in most action video games, and the story goes into great detail to show that such a thing would actually be hugely psychologically damaging to any normal person.

The game’s plot is about Iji, a young woman who is caught on the wrong end of an alien invasion and is soon given reverse-engineered nanomachine technology that allows her to fight the aliens, thrust into the midst of conflict to put a stop to their hostile occupation. She has the option to be a pacifist, in which case she comes out somewhat less traumatized than she would otherwise, but the only reason that it’s even an option to begin with is for the exact opposite reason that pacifism is an option in Undertale: namely that Iji has literally no hope of defeating the aliens through violence. If you play through the game like a traditional action-platformer, she still becomes an incredibly powerful soldier capable of mowing down hundreds of enemy combatants, to the point where the alien forces practically soil themselves just thinking of her, and yet it’s repeatedly made clear that she’s just one person against a force of millions. No matter how many soldiers she kills, she only truly manages to survive through resourcefulness and cunning, and only succeeds at her goal in the end because one of the alien leaders takes pity on her and orders his army to leave. Even the most powerful soldier in the world simply does not stand a chance against an entire army.

As a result, while Iji is capable of killing alien soldiers with little effort, from a practical standpoint almost none of the lives she can take actually contribute to her goal of driving off the invasion. She is capable of making her way through almost the entire game without directly (though the game is admittedly a bit loose with what counts as “directly”) killing anyone, instead relying on stealth, sabotage, and diplomacy with the few aliens who are sympathetic to her. This doesn’t mean that any of the enemy combatants won’t die: the story soon takes the conflict to an all-out war between two opposing alien factions, with Earth as the central battlefield. In any war death is inevitable, and this is no exception.

Like in Undertale, however, the enemies of the game don’t have the option of pacifism: all of the aliens we see are soldiers either by profession or by necessity, and in the case of one faction they’re literally fighting off their own genocide at the hands of the other. The fact that Iji can achieve her goals through pacifism is in one regard a symbol of how useless violence is against an enemy that cannot be defeated through brute force, but at the same time it’s also acknowledged as a privilege that virtually no other character in the game can afford.

The end result is that Iji makes nonviolence entirely centered on player agency in the same way that Undertale, but it does so by approaching it from the exact opposite direction. While in Undertale the player character has vast amounts of power over the game’s other characters, in Iji the player character is at best an afterthought to the central conflict between both alien factions. In both games, killing is unnecessary, in Undertale because the player character is strong enough to make it through the game regardless, and in Iji because the player character isn’t strong enough for it to meaningfully prevent the invasion and subsequent war. In both games there is nothing that explicitly forces the player to resort to killing foes, and so it is entirely left up to the player’s own preference whether they choose to do so or not. And in both games, there are significant consequences for choosing violence over choosing to avoid it: whether it be for the player character or for the world and supporting cast around them.

This is what ultimately distinguishes both these games from games that otherwise offer the option of pacifist runs. Compare this to most other games, where pacifism is simply a self-imposed challenge that’s left open for the player to complete. At best pacifist runs are usually treated as nothing more than a way for the player to test their skill, with the challenge being primarily that violence is the more convenient and immediately gratifying option. The effects of choosing to be nonviolent are rarely given any weight beyond this extra challenge, with little tangible impact on the characters or the world. By making pacifism more difficult and refusing to tie it to any in-world consequences, the choice to remain nonviolent is left meaningless and empty. The player is left separated from any sense of agency, as there is nothing to suggest that there’s any real difference to be made.

But in reality, nonviolence and agency are inseparable. Violence is often the only option that people have left to defend themselves when faced with subjugation, enslavement, or the threat of genocide. The ability to remain pacifist in the midst of a conflict is only made possible by circumstances where one can find other solutions: and not everyone has that luxury. Games that allow for pacifist runs but don’t go through the effort of acknowledging the importance of player’s own agency are left thematically and narratively confused, and the experience of a pacifist run is left unsatisfying and devoid of impact. More than anything, these two games understand that the impact of a pacifist run is built upon both the encouragement and consequences of different player choices.

A Jurassic Park Opens Up
  • Aries: "Woo! I'm checking out the carnivores!"
  • Taurus: "There's no way this park is a good idea." Stays behind to envy others experiences.
  • Gemini: Wants to go, but to be safe hangs around the herbivores.
  • Cancer: Bought tickets opening day, but was already in bed when the plane was supposed to take off so missed the flight. Wasn't even sleeping, just watching the media.
  • Leo: First to be seriously hospitalized. Didn't listen to the signs telling them to "stay away" because they wanted a close up photo with the dinosaurs.
  • Virgo: Chased after the Leo's in an attempt to stop them from being killed by the dinosaurs, saved some lives.
  • Libra: Okay's the scientists ideas to bring back the dinosaurs. "Wow cool idea, sounds good guys go for it."
  • Scorpio: Dared everyone else to hop the fences, enter enclosures, and swim in random bodies of water. Didn't do any of it, though.
  • Sagittarius: Is likely the only one filling out the scavenger hunt pamphlet given out at the park entrance.
  • Capricorn: Hangs around the carnivore areas to see accidents happen.
  • Aquarius: Thought going to the park was a cool idea until the plane heading to the park started taking off.
  • Pisces: Is responsible for bringing back the dinosaurs from extinction. "They are just too cute and cool!" They think everything deserves to live, yet they consistently eat bacon for breakfast.
What happened during Isla Nublar’s intervening years?

The following is an article by friend of the site Neelis and discusses the chain of events occurring on Isla Nublar between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. As such, there may be minor spoilers, but it provides an excellent timeline and analysis of events. Be sure to give Neelis a follow on Twitter.

-Jurassiraptor


What happened to Isla Nublar between the accident in the park (circa 1993), and the construction and opening of Jurassic World (circa 2000 - 2005)?

The Book: Jurassic Park

Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel Jurassic Park presented us with an unprecedented prospect: a theme park housing living dinosaurs, brought back from extinction through the (then) miracle of cloning. As expected, predatory dinosaurs and human interference are never a good idea, and soon trouble would arise, putting the human characters in jeopardy.

By the end of the novel, the survivors (including Grant, Gennaro, Sattler, Tim, Lex and Muldoon) are airlifted off Isla Nublar by the (fictional) Costa Rican Air Force. As soon as the entire island has been evacuated, it is destroyed by bombing it with napalm, making sure none of the dinosaurs survive.

From the epilogue we learn some dinosaurs did make it off the island, having moved across the country and eating agama beans, soy and chicken (rich in lysine), before disappearing into the dense Costa Rican jungles, never to be seen again.

The Film: Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park’s film version saw quite a different ending to the story. While having passed away in the books, Hammond and Malcolm survived the film’s events, while Gennaro and Muldoon perished on the island.

The film was deliberately left open-ended, leaving room for a possible sequel to take place on Isla Nublar. Director Steven Spielberg remarked he had expected Michael Crichton to come up with an idea for the story revolving around Dennis Nedry’s lost Barbasol shaving cream can containing the stolen dinosaur embryos; Spielberg was quite surprised when this plot, elementary in the first film’s depiction of the park’s demise, was ignored, instead focusing on another island entirely: Isla Sorna.

The Book: The Lost World

The Lost World, written after Jurassic Park’s box-office success, presented Michael Crichton with a problem. In the original novel he had made sure Isla Nublar was cleared of dinosaurs. Universal and Steven Spielberg were hoping for a new (bestselling) book to base the second film on – Crichton, never having written a sequel to one of his books before (or since) reluctantly agreed.

The second novel saw the miraculous return of Ian Malcolm; though pronounced dead in the first book, Jeff Goldblum’s performance on film had made Malcolm an unexpectedly popular character, and Crichton resurrected him – turning the book in a hybrid sequel to both its paper predecessor and the celluloid version based off of it.

After bodies of mysterious animals start washing up on Central American shores, Malcolm and his former girlfriend Sarah Harding, an animal behavioral expert, learn InGen leased a second island off the Costa Rican shores, where the company experimented in secret, recreating dinosaurs and perfecting them before shipping the animals to the theme park on Isla Nublar. “Hammond’s dirty little secret,” Site B, had eluded all media and thrill-seekers’ attention.

The island, abandoned after the incident on Isla Nublar, is home to a host of different dinosaurs. Old favorites such as Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor return; and there is a new predator on the block, the fearsome Carnotaurus, an animal with camouflage abilities stalking prey around the ruins of the former worker village, striking fear in not just human explorers, but other dinosaurs alike.

In a race against time, Malcolm and a small crew try to find paleontologist Richard Levine, who is stranded on the island. Lewis Dodgson, the man who bribed Dennis Nedry in the first novel (and film) to steal dinosaur embryos for rivaling company BioSyn, is no longer a supporting character but the full-on antagonist, this time hell-bent on not simply stealing embryos, but snatching eggs from the dinosaurs’ nests.

By the end of the novel, a small group of survivors makes it off the island, taking the secret of this Lost World with them. What happened to the animals and the island itself in the novels’ universe is anyone’s guess; though several of the dinosaurs fell ill with the mysterious DX disease, it’s unclear if Malcolm’s predicted “second extinction” took place, or if the former InGen operation on Isla Sorna was ever uncovered by the authorities.

The Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Deviating greatly from the source material, The Lost World: Jurassic Park eliminated the novel’s main characters (Doc Thorne, Richard Levine, Arby Benton), seeing the return of Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum reprising his role) and the appearance of Sarah Harding and Eddie Carr; Nick van Owen was introduced as a member of the protagonist’s team .

Rough elements from the novel can be found in the film; Isla Sorna as a location; the rescue mission to find Harding (instead of Levine) who’s alone on the island; the abandoned worker village; the Tyrannosaurs attacking the trailer after the protagonists take care of the injured baby rex; Velociraptors stalking people through tall grass.

Dodgson, however, is gone, replaced by Peter Ludlow, head of InGen and cousin of John Hammond (their family relationship isn’t entirely clear). The hunt for eggs is replaced by a much greater objective: to capture dinosaurs and display them in a zoo outside San Diego.

Much to the dismay of fans, the Carnotaurs never make an appearance (ironically, the toy lines for both Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park included Carnotaurus action figures and even an adorable, though cranky-looking hatchling); instead, the focus lies primarily on the Tyrannosaurus couple and their cute-as-a-button baby. As expected, everything goes south, but hunter Roland Tembo succeeds in downing the male Tyrannosaurus. Here is where the film strays furthest from the book; InGen brings the bull T-rex to the mainland. As expected, this last desperate attempt at making profit goes spectacularly wrong too. Peter Ludlow pays the highest price; he falls prey to the infant Tyrannosaurus, the young animal practicing its killing skills on him.

The film ends with a much clearer idea of the state of Isla Sorna; it is to become a sanctuary for the dinosaurs, to live undisturbed and isolated from the rest of the world.

No return to Isla Nublar (?)

With the exploration and attempt at exploitation of Isla Sorna comes a most peculiar question: what happened to Isla Nublar? Why does the original island go largely unmentioned in both sequels, and why do none of the returning characters seem concerned about its fate, and more importantly, the dinosaurs that roamed it?

First, there’s something of interest John Hammond mentioned while trying to convince Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant to come inspect his park on Isla Nublar:

”I own an island, off the coast of Costa Rica.” John Hammond

”I’ve leased it from the government.” John Hammond

Jurassic Park (1993)

Now, Hammond, the flamboyant and likeable showman, says two things. One; he apparently “owns” the island. But next he downplays it a bit and explains he has leased it from the Costa Rican government.

There’s an interesting distinction. Would InGen have the funds to indefinitely acquire not just a plot of foreign land, but a complete island? Despite seeming very successful at what they do, this is a far stretch.

Then there’s the matter of Costa Rica (or any nation, for that matter) willing to sell land. A lease would mean a steady, hefty income, considering the Isla Nublar resort and Jurassic Park theme park’s expected financial success. I will not pretend to be an expert on these matters, but there seem to be some far-reaching legal implications when it comes to a country parting with home soil by selling to a corporation.

This could all be a slip up in the script, but both options ended up in the film’s spoken dialogue. Let me get back to this in a moment, and first take a look at an infamous deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park, in which Peter Ludlow informs InGen’s board of directors of an incident that took place on Site B (Isla Sorna), in which a young girl was injured:

”Damaged or destroyed equipment: seventeen point three million. Demolition, deconstruction and disposal of Isla Nublar facilities, organic and inorganic, one hundred and twenty-six million dollars.” Peter Ludlow

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (deleted scene)

Here we have it: the answer to that earlier question. The island’s facilities have been dismantled and the animals eliminated. Nothing is left.

Why is this of importance? As Hammond said, he leased the island from the Costa Rican government. Now, would the park have been a success, Costa Rica no doubt would have made a profit as well, seeing an increase in tourism, money spent in both the country and at Isla Nublar (part of that money flowing back through the mentioned lease contract); but with the failure of the park, the lease ended and Costa Rica took possession of the island again, forcing InGen to clean up and restore the island to its original state.

Obviously, this presents us with a new problem. The scene was cut from the film either for reasons of pacing and a better flow of the narrative (The Lost World: Jurassic Park is already slightly longer than Jurassic Park); it might have been considered unneeded, given Hammond informs Malcolm on the state of Isla Sorna in the scene that is present in the film, which sees Ludlow and Malcolm clash as well; or it could have been taken out because the information presented within that scene leaves no room for a possible return to Isla Nublar in a future installment.

As we know by now, that installment is coming: Jurassic World (June 2015) presents us with an open, fully functioning park located on Isla Nublar, having been in business for a decade, receiving thousands of visitors every single day. It’s a huge success. And it harbors some secrets, hidden in the island’s jungles…

”Something Has Survived”: Continuity

Returning, for the moment, to that scene in John Hammond’s bedroom, where Ian Malcolm finds himself shocked when he learns there is another island that is home to dozens of dinosaur species – all thriving.

”Thank God for Site B.” John Hammond

”Site B?” Ian Malcolm

“Isla Nublar was just the showroom, something for the tourists. Site B was the factory floor; that was on Isla Sorna, eighty miles from Nublar. We bred the animals there, and nurtured them for a few months and then moved them into the park.” John Hammond

“Really? I did not know that.” Ian Malcolm

“Now, after the accident in the park, Hurricane Clarissa wiped out our facility on Site B: call it an act of God. We had to evacuate of course, and the animals were released to mature on their own. ‘Life will find a way,’ as you once so eloquently put it. And by now we have a complete ecological system on the island, with dozens of species living in their own social groups without fences, without boundaries, without constraining technology and for four years I’ve tried to keep it safe from human interference.” John Hammond

”Well, that’s right, that’s right, hopefully you’ve kept this island quarantined and contained but I’m in shock about all this. I mean, that they’re still alive. You bred them lysine-deficient. Shouldn’t they have kicked after seven days without supplemental enzymes?” Ian Malcolm

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Nowhere in this dialogue does Malcolm express any concern over Isla Nublar. Neither does Hammond bother to mention it. The focus in both The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III lies solely on Isla Sorna.

It begs the question, too, why InGen wouldn’t send a team to Nublar. Why wouldn’t they? Nublar had reasonable infrastructure, there were detailed maps of the park’s layout, an idea of what species of dinosaurs would roam there. Most importantly, the biggest threat, the three adult Velociraptors, had all been killed during the 1993 incident. Would it not have been far easier to capture dinosaurs on an island with reasonable infrastructure and knowledge of the assumed amount of animals roaming there?

Malcolm does mention the lysine-deficiency fail-safe Dr. Wu built into the dinosaurs’ DNA. Does the tagline of the film, Something Has Survived, hint at the animals surviving due to them eating lysine rich vegetation? (The notion in itself is flawed - all vertebrate life forms need to consume lysine-rich foods, non can create their own.) This could be an interpretation, considering the boardroom scene and its exposition, clearing all doubts, was cut from the film.

But when we do keep that cut scene in mind (and realize how it is the catalyst for the film’s events in the first place), the tagline can’t refer to anything else but the clean-up operation that took place on Isla Nublar. As Hammond says, he tried to keep Isla Sorna safe from prying eyes and exploitation by his own company.

And there’s something else that strongly hints at a now barren Isla Nublar; while on his way to meet John Hammond, Malcolm is confronted with an obnoxious passenger on the subway. We learn that Malcolm has spoken out about the incident on Isla Nublar and InGen’s capabilities of resurrecting extinct animals. Yet people do not believe him. If Malcolm made such a fuss and went public with his knowledge, wouldn’t it have been fairly easy for an investigative journalist or News Corporation to hire an aircraft, fly over the island and see if all Malcolm’s allegations are true?

In the novel The Lost World, there actually is mention of this (although the journalists are flown over the wrong island and never were the wiser for it); it would be reasonable to assume the same thing would have happened in the film’s universe.

Is this conclusive then? Was Isla Nublar indeed cleared of all technology, infrastructure, construction and dinosaur-life?

The answer, surprisingly, comes from the third film.

Lessons from Dr. Grant’s audience

Trying to convince his audience more money is needed for research, Dr. Grant is confronted with a lecture hall full of people wanting to know about the, as he calls them, “theme park monsters” created by InGen. Facing a sea of raised hands, Grant asks if there are people who do not have a question about Jurassic Park. Hands drop, and Grant realizes all too well there are people in the audience who want to know more about the infamous San Diego incident. He denies involvement. This leaves only a few eager arms up in the air:

“as soon as Costa Rica and the UN know how to handle that second island, scientists will just go in and look for themselves.” Student I

”Are you saying you wouldn’t want to get on Isla Sorna and study them if you had the chance?” Student II

”No force on Earth or Heaven could get me on that island.” Alan Grant

Jurassic Park III (2001)

Again, the focus is solely placed on Isla Sorna by all involved. Everyone within Jurassic Park’s universe seems to be aware Isla Nublar is no longer home to dinosaurs. Isla Sorna is the place to be if you want to see eye to eye with living, breathing dinosaurs!

Retconning established events: the rise of Masrani Global and a preliminary conclusion

Though having been kept a surprise for a long time, the cat came out of the bag with the release of Jurassic World’s newest global trailer and word from director Colin Trevorrow; the original Tyrannosaurus rex from Jurassic Park will make a glorious return – now shrouded in more mystery than the already much debated Indominus rex, fans still haven’t had a good look at Isla Nublar’s ruler.

The website for Masrani Global, having bought-up InGen and setting up shop on Isla Nublar to start their own park, has nothing but praise for all those involved, and gives us a, very global, muddled timeline of events:

The acquisition of InGen by Masrani in 1998 hasn’t changed the scientific focus placed on the company, and CEO Simon Masrani has looked to experienced geneticist Dr. Henry Wu to guide the company ever since - with results often exceeding expectations for investors. Thanks to Masrani, InGen has been reinvented and is bringing tomorrow’s science, today. Masrani Global’s website

In 1997 Simon Masrani began talks to acquire International Genetic Technologies after the passing of Dr. John Hammond in order to reshape and restore the company to a level of satisfaction once sought by the former founder. By 1998 InGen was under the Masrani umbrella and the years from 2002 to 2004 would help lead the Masrani company on their biggest adventure yet: the construction of Jurassic World on Isla Nublar. Masrani Global’s website

After the unfortunate incident at Jurassic Park, Dr. Henry Wu returned to Isla Nublar in November of 1994 to assist the clean up teams in cataloging specimen numbers, and to identify exactly how the animals were breeding. Despite the island’s presence of seemingly same sex animals, it was the inclusion of amphibian DNA which he himself had underestimated. Masrani Global’s website

By May of 1997 Dr. Wu and his research team at a financially struggling InGen had successfully combined several species of plant life together giving birth to the Karacosis wutansis (or Wu Flower) which gained world-wide media attention, including the attention of Simon Masrani - who incidentally acquired InGen the following year. The son of a close friend of the now late John Hammond, Simon Masrani promoted Dr. Wu within the ranks of the InGen company in December of 2000 and brought the scientist onto the Jurassic World project. Dr. Henry Wu was instantly looked at as a valued member of the Masrani company, proving his unique skill not only as a successful scientist, but a great visionary. Masrani Global’s website

Established in 2002 for the purpose of construction on Jurassic World, Timack Construction have since gone on to specializing in renowned commercial building constructions. Masrani Global’s website

Simon Masrani used subsidaries Axis Boulder Engineering and Timack Construction to work on the preparation and planning prior to construction on the island. Construction workers were protected from native wildlife by InGen security over the course of the three years from 2002 until completion in 2004. With over $1.2 billion alone spent in concrete and building materials, this project was never underestimated. Masrani Global’s website

Step into the prehistoric era and come face to face with some of the greatest animals to ever walk the Earth, the Dinosaurs! Soak in the atmosphere and visit an ecosystem like nothing experienced before. With technologically advanced ride systems, five star restaurants, and a high class golf course, it is full of excitement, spectacle, and will leave an everlasting impression on everyone who visits.

The Masrani company is proud to present the greatest theme park ever built: Jurassic World.

“The most gratifying feeling of the Masrani Company is the global appreciation of our visions and ideas. We have brought together the world’s top minds all under one roof and since 1973 we have conquered things previously thought impossible. We’ve established ourselves in many areas from telecommunications, to genetic research, and defense organizations, landing as the number one in terms of innovation and success. Jurassic World is the sum of everything that came before it.” Masrani Global’s website

Impressive as it may be, Masrani does not clarify how thorough Isla Nublar’s clean-up operation was, or what local wildlife construction crews needed to be protected from. From everything that came before, we would have assumed it was executed with the utmost care and consideration, especially given the price InGen paid for the entire operation.

”one hundred and twenty-six million dollars.” Peter Ludlow

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (deleted scene)

That’s a lot of dough, which should have ensured a conscientious, precise operation that was set up specifically not to leave a trace of InGen’s presence on Isla Nublar.

This leaves us (well, me in particular) with a most burning question: does Jurassic World retcon establish canon regarding the fate of Isla Nublar as presented to us in the original three films (in particular the two sequels), or will it offer an explanation as to how the original Tyrannosaurus still roams the island, and why the ruins of the old Visitors’ Center remain, now covered in vegetation and out of view of tourists visiting the island?

What happened to Isla Nublar between the accident in the park (circa 1993), and the construction and opening of Jurassic World (circa 2000 - 2005)? Why was this clean-up operation not successful, or if it was, why are the filmmakers deviating from the original explanations and previously established conclusions?

Of course, as a dedicated fan that wants every detail of the story to be correct, a possible retconning of years-old canon would be a somewhat bitter pill to swallow. But keeping in mind that these films are not just made for hardcore fans, but a much broader demographic, casual film audiences who come to have a good night out and see a film about dinosaurs running amok, and who aren’t necessarily fans of the films or have interest in, or knowledge of, all details, it won’t matter much if the island was properly dismantled or not.

Jurassic World might not offer any satisfactory answers. The film could gloss over the previous events (sidetracking The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III), ignore them or give the most limited of nods.

Ideally, a satisfactory explanation could be worked into the film. This would require some exposition, which could either work gloriously or fail horribly.

In a few weeks time my questions might be answered – but I’m well aware my search for a solid, well-rounded conclusion could leave me empty handed and disappointed.

Whatever the case, a return to Isla Nublar is a thrilling prospect. The island where it all started for Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler – and us as an audience -, the place John Hammond envisioned would enthrall children and adults alike, where dinosaurs would roam once again; we’re going back, and we’re going to see it as never before.

”You know the first attraction I ever built when I came down south from Scotland? It was a Flea Circus, Petticoat Lane. Really quite wonderful. We had a wee trapeze, and a merry-go… carousel and a seesaw. They all moved, motorized of course, but people would say they could see the fleas. ‘Oh, I see the fleas, mummy! Can’t you see the fleas?’ Clown fleas and high-wire fleas and fleas on parade. But with this place, I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion. Something that was real, something that they could see and touch. An aim not devoid of merit.” John Hammond

Jurassic Park (1993)

-Neelis

“The Rarest", a Nene Goose. Nene geese numbered only 30 individuals in the 1950s. Through careful breeding programs, they were brought back from the brink of extinction, and today number around 800 in the wild after they were re-introduced to their native homes in Hawai’i, Maui, and Kaua’i. I fell in love with the Nene after meeting a few and observing their overall gentle nature.
Acrylic on board, 8" x 10"

It warms my heart to see how enamored our guests are by our animals! It’s like they’re all kids again.

I remember when I first laid eyes on an animal brought back from extinction. It was a baby Triceratops. At that moment, I felt the years of dreaming and drawing and imagining all crash down on me in a single moment. I was looking at the real thing. I was seeing something that sparked a curiosity within people worldwide, across centuries, to think, to educate, and to learn.

That kind of wonder can’t be outmatched.

- Erick