The sound the velociraptors used to communicate in Jurassic Park was actually the sound of tortoise mating. Falling somewhere between a bark, a honk, and a sneeze, the sound can be clearly heard during Jurassic Park’s iconic kitchen scene, just after the first raptor comes through the door. Rearing up to full height, the dinosaur throws back its head and issues a salvo of calls for its second-in-command to join it in the kitchen. It was a moment of pure terror for the cornered kids, Lex and Tim. Had they only known the source of the sound, it might have taken the edge off.
Why Jurassic Park Used Tortoise Sex for the Sound of the Velociraptors
When considering how to give voice to Jurassic Park‘s dinosaur, tortoise sex might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but to sound designer, Gary Rydstrom, it was an ideal choice. Speaking to vultureRydstrom explained that one benefit was that “Tortoise mating can take a long time. You’ve got to have plenty of time to sit around and watch and record them.”
In other words, the tantric tortoises gave Rydstrom more than enough material to work with. Moreover, their coital calls sounded totally alien, making them perfect for a creature no one has ever heard before, and ensuring audiences would not be able to readily identify the sound. However, while the sound itself proved ideal for the velociraptors, recording it put Rydstrom in a less-than-ideal situation.
How Sound Designer Gary Rydstrom Recorded the Mating Tortoises for Jurassic Park’s Velociraptors
To get the sound of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, Gary Rydstrom set up recording equipment at Marine World and sat around for hours while the resident tortoises mated. “It’s kind of embarrassing.” Rydstrom said (via vulture). “The people there said, ‘Would you like to record these two tortoises that are mating?’ It sounded like a joke.” In the end, though, the results proved worth the wait. The kitchen sequence has gone down as one of the most memorable scenes not only in Jurassic Parkbut in modern movie history, and it’s all thanks to the ingenuity of Gary Rydstrom and the passion of two tortoises.