Jurassic Lark

by Tim Watkin / 31 December, 2005

It began with an exercise book in the middle of the design room at Weta Workshop - "a room full of 30-somethings who have never gotten over their six-year-old fascination with dinosaurs and monsters", according to conceptual designer Daniel Falconer. As the designers worked on Peter Jackson's King Kong, the exercise book was slowly filled with ideas for the flora and fauna on Skull Island, the giant gorilla's uncharted home.

Only a slither of the island's eco-system can be seen in the film, but "the attitude here at Weta is that we design full worlds", says Falconer.

So for the first time Weta has put out a book, The World of Kong (HarperCollins, $59), written by Falconer; 224 gorgeously illustrated pages explore the ape's entire, brutal realm, down to its insects. The conceit behind Skull Island is that dinosaurs survived there when the rest of their kind became extinct 65 million years ago. And they've evolved. T rex have become V rex (Vastatosaurus rex) and never-before-heard-of dinosaurs, such as a four-legged predatory dinosaur, Feotodon, have emerged. Each is a combination of science and designers' fancy - purely imagined, but anatomically correct.

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