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The idea of a real-life Jurassic Park with living dinosaurs is an exciting one. Hawaii, with its tropical islands that seem almost prehistoric, might seem like a fitting location. However, the simple fact is that there is no Jurassic Park in Hawaii.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: There is no actual Jurassic Park with living dinosaurs in Hawaii or anywhere else in the world. The Jurassic Park movies and stories are fictional tales.

In this article, we’ll look at why a real Jurassic Park can’t exist, especially in Hawaii, some background on the Jurassic Park films, and other prehistoric and dinosaur attractions that can be found on the Hawaiian islands.

Why a Real Jurassic Park Isn’t Possible

The Science of Bringing Dinosaurs to Life

Despite depictions in popular films like Jurassic Park, scientists agree that recreating actual living dinosaurs is currently impossible. While fossils provide insight into dinosaur anatomy, behavior, and genetic makeup, several key obstacles prevent bringing them back to life.

First, dinosaur DNA has never been discovered intact. Over millions of years, DNA breaks down and fossilizes along with bones and soft tissue. The half-life of DNA is 521 years, meaning usable genetic information essentially disappears after several million years at most.

Second, even if usable dinosaur DNA was extracted, the gaps in genetic code would be too great to fill in. No technology exists to rebuild entire genomes from tiny DNA fragments. Trying to fill gaps by splicing in DNA from other animals would not recreate an actual dinosaur.

Finally, the dinosaur egg cytoplasm and conditions required to clone a dinosaur do not exist. The proteins, organelles and chemical environment within dinosaur eggs that allowed embryonic development have been long lost to science over epochs of evolution.

As expert Jack Horner stated, “Dinosaurs had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction.”

Hawaii’s Environment Not Fit for Dinosaurs

While bringing back actual dinosaurs is scientifically impossible today, if it could be done, Hawaii would be inhospitable environment for most dinosaur species that lived during the Mesozoic Era.

Hawaii’s volcanic tropical islands did not yet exist for dinosaurs to inhabit. Modern Hawaii’s climate and ecology differs greatly from the lush, subtropical Pangaea supercontinent of 225 million years ago. Hawaii hosts over 10,000 unique native species of plants and animals.

However, few ancient species of flora or fauna from dinosaur eras still exist there.

Large dinosaur herbivore species would lack abundant cycads, ferns and conifers to graze. Carnivores would miss diverse megafauna populations to prey on. Marine reptiles would swim empty Pacific waters mostly devoid of ancient ammonites, belemnites and crustaceans.

If placed in modern Hawaii, dinosaurs would face threats of invasive species competition, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, unfamiliar foods, and lack of suitable habitat. Studies of dinosaur lifespans show few species survived over 30 years, so long-term survival in Hawaii is doubtful.

The Fictional Jurassic Park Story

Original Michael Crichton Novel

The concept of a theme park with real live dinosaurs began with Michael Crichton’s 1990 sci-fi novel Jurassic Park. This thrilling book introduced readers to a near-future world where scientists had figured out a way to clone dinosaurs from preserved ancient DNA samples.

Crichton blended real scientific ideas with fiction to craft a cautionary tale about the unintended consequences of reckless bioengineering pursuits. The novel was an instant bestseller, captivating readers with its imaginative premise of a dinosaur theme park gone haywire.

Blockbuster Steven Spielberg Movie Franchise

Steven Spielberg adapted Crichton’s novel into an acclaimed 1993 summer blockbuster film that brought dinosaurs to life on the big screen like never before, thanks to pioneering computer-generated imagery. Jurassic Park was a monster box office hit that spawned an enduring franchise.

To date there have been five Jurassic Park movies that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide. From the original trio of heroes played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum to the genetically modified hybrid dinosaurs in the recent sequels, the film series has kept audiences coming back for more dinosaur action, adventure and scares for 30 years now.

Prehistoric and Dinosaur Attractions in Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island provides visitors a glimpse into the primordial world. The continuously active Kilauea volcano offers a rare chance to witness Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, create new land from scorching lava flows entering the ocean.

Hiking trails wind through volcanic craters and lush rainforests where nēnē geese, descendants of the giant flightless moa birds that roamed prehistoric New Zealand, still roam today.

Maui Ocean Center

At the Maui Ocean Center’s Living Reef exhibit, glimpse into Hawaii’s prehistoric past with displays on stony corals that build reefs and have existed largely unchanged for over 200 million years. Meet moray eels up to 10 feet long like those swimming when dinosaurs still walked the earth.

Marvel at shark species over 150 million years old, including bonnethead, white tip reef, grey reef, and zebra sharks.

Kauai Museum

The Kauai Museum brings the Garden Isle’s distant past to life through fossils and artifacts from the island’s earliest known settlers. Learn how Native Hawaiians descended from seafaring Polynesians used expert navigation to discover remote volcanic islands.

Compare modern Hawaiian plants like taro and coconut to starchy tree crops first cultivated in Papua New Guinea over 10,000 years ago.

Waikiki Aquarium

See Hawaiian green sea turtles, an ancient species dating back over 100 million years, glide through the waters at the Waikiki Aquarium. Compare their prehistoric shells and scales to modern sharks and rays in the ocean predator exhibit.

Marvel at Palauan nautilus, living fossils that have barely changed from their ammonite cousins during the age of dinosaurs. Glimpse extinct creatures like trilobites and dinosaurs through informational displays and artwork spread throughout the galleries.


While an actual Jurassic Park with living, breathing dinosaurs can only exist in our imaginations and in fiction, Hawaii still offers some great opportunities to experience a little bit of prehistoric life.

From fossil exhibits to ocean animals that have changed little over millions of years, you can find your own adventure exploring the natural wonders of the Hawaiian islands that often seem almost as remote and primitive as dinosaur times.

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