In the film Jurassic Park, a triceratops is sick with something. Dr. Sattler investigates possible causes. She initially thinks it's due to a poisonous plant, but after checking the dinosaur's droppings, she rules out that cause. Then the storm hits, and everyone gets distracted by that whole 'dinosaurs are trying to eat everyone' thing. The triceratops' illness doesn't get addressed again.

What caused the triceratops' illness? What was the triceratops sick with?

I'm hoping this was addressed in a deleted scene, the original book, or some other supplemental material.

  • 9
    “Then the storm hits, and everyone gets distracted by that whole 'dinosaurs are trying to eat everyone' thing. The triceratops' illness doesn't get addressed again.” They really did drop the ball there. Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 14:26
  • 2
    @PaulD.Waite - I concur. The whole 'triceratops is poorly' subplot really should have been its own film. "Jurassic Park II : The Poorly Dinosaur"
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 18:19
  • 5
    The brachiosaurus was sick as well wasn't it? It sneezed on the girl in the tree.
    – RobertF
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 3:52
  • 3
    @RobertF: oh god, it was an epidemic. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


Did a quick google search and found that someone gave the correct answer here – apparently it was explained in a scene from the script that was either cut or never filmed. The answer was that the triceratops needed to periodically swallow "gizzard stones" like a chicken that would help break up the food in its stomach, and whenever it did so it would end up swallowing the berries too.

Tim holds one of the smooth rocks up and calls out, a little timidly.

TIM: These look kind of familiar.

GRANT: Triceratops was a constant browser, and constant browsers would be constantly sick.

ELLIE: Constantly sick.

GRANT: Not just every six weeks.

ELLIE: Yeah, I know.

TIM: I've seen pictures of these!

Grant turns and looks at him, a little annoyed.

TIM: In your fully illustrated book.

Grant just rolls his eyes, but Ellie comes over and checks out the stones.

ELLIE: What's that?

A light goes on in her eyes.

ELLIE: Alan – gizzard stones!

She throws Grant one of the stones. They look at each other in amazement.

As before, when they get excited, they talk right over each other.

GRANT: Elm that's it, it explains the periodicity, the –

ELLIE: – the undigested state of the berries because it's –

GRANT: – totally incidental (or) unrelated to the feeding pattern –

TIM: What are you guys saying?

ELLIE: (turning to Tim) It's simple, see. Some animals like her, don't have teeth –

GRANT: – like birds –

ELLIE: – like birds. What happen is, they swallow the stones and hold them in a muscular sack in their stomachs –

GRANT: – a gizzard –

ELLIE: – which is called a gizzard, and it helps them mash their food, but what happens after a while –

GRANT: – what happens is that after a while, the stones get smooth, every six weeks, so the animal regurgitates them –

ELLIE: (for Tim) – barfs them up –

GRANT: – and swallows fresh ones.

ELLIE: And when she swallows the stones, she swallows the poison berries too. That's what makes her sick. (impressed) Good work Tim.

  • I was going to post this as soon as I saw the question. I researched this (at my daughter's request) last year, and your answer is the correct one. Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 4:10

I remembered this discrepancy between the book and the movie. Here's an online Q&A about the books explanation of the sickness:

"Though we never find out in the film, the novel offers the answer. The Triceratops (in the novel, it was a Stegosaurus) digests food like vegetables or fruit by eating small stones that crush and mash the food in the stomach. The stones it eats are too close to the poisonous West Indian Lilac berries. Therefore, when it replaces the stones every six weeks or so, it simultaneously picks up fallen berries and is poisoned again. This is suggested in the scene where Dr. Sattler crouches down by the Lilac berry bush, picks up some small stones, and plays with them in the air for a second. She fails to find berries in the animal's excrement because the berries are regurgitated along with the stones."


  • @Hypnosifl Ha, you beat me by a couple of seconds.
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 2:23

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