The Velociraptor’s Voices In Jurassic Park Were Actually Weird Animal Noises, Including Tortoises Mating?

The sounds of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were created from combinations of animals, including mating turtles.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

The science of Jurassic Park made it possible for humans to live side by side with dinosaurs, but the reality of the extensive special effects is significantly less fantastic. In multiple interviews collected on IMDb, the award-winning special effects team details the strange lengths they went to in order to make the dinosaurs sound as real as they looked. No one had ever heard a velociraptor before, which meant few audience members knew what they were hearing was really turtles mating.

Sound designer Gary Rydstrom set up at Marine World with professional recording equipment for hours, listening to turtles mating. Noises from the reptiles sounded alien, which was perfect for the velociraptors, even if it was embarrassing to record. The rest of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were given roars, squeaks, and whatever the dilophosaurus was doing when it spat on Wayne Knight’s Nedry, created from combinations of non-extinct animals.

Gallimums, the bipedal herbivore dinosaurs seen alongside the brontosaurus in one of Jurassic Park’s most iconic scenes, were voiced by horses. If a male horse runs up to a female, she makes a high-pitched squeal, which forms the basis of the gallimum’s “voice.” When the peaceful herbivores stampede later on in the film, it’s the sound of horses thundering through the theater.

The cast of Jurassic Park, Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, also didn’t know the lengths that the special effects crew went to in order to make the dinosaurs sound realistic. Amazingly, in a film that still looks spectacular 30 years later, it was a seemingly simple effect that was the hardest for Steven Speilberg to get just right: the water ripples warning of the T-Rex’s approach.

Michael Lantieri, a classmate of Ron Howard‘s and part of Jurassic Park’s special effects crew, figured out how to get the effect using a guitar. The team put strings under the dashboard of the jeep, and a crew member had to pluck them to make the water ripple. Between thousands of computers and a six-ton T-Rex animatronic, the clear glass of water was the hardest shot, but the result is one of the most iconic effects in Hollywood history.

Going back to the sound of dinosaurs, the T-Rex scenes caused Steven Speilberg to roar through a megaphone like the towering dinosaur. It’s not Speilberg in the final cut of Jurassic Park, but he did manage to crack up the entire cast whenever he did it, and according to Sam Neil, it was incredibly funny. Pretending to be terrified of the animatronic beast was difficult, so the actors were thankful for the famous director breaking the tension by letting loose his inner child.

Jurassic Park remains a timeless classic today, and it’s thanks to the hard work and determination of a crew of thousands that poured blood, sweat, and tears into bringing long-extinct species to life. More recent dinosaur films, from Adam Driver’s 65 to even Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Jurassic World trilogy, were unable to recapture the magic of the 1993 original. Who knew the secret to make velociraptors timeless and magical was waiting for turtles to copulate?