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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/OneMillionYearsBC http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/iguanasaur_9812.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:Little known fact: Dinosaurs look just like giant iguanas.]]-]

->'''Malcolm:''' What? What did you expect to document? What did you expect to see?\\
'''Nic Van Owen:''' Animals, maybe... big iguanas.
-->-- ''Film/TheLostWorldJurassicPark''

Making movies about [[{{Kaiju}} giant monsters]] (often dinosaurs) is [[RuleOfCool downright awesome]]. However, sometimes, the filmmakers just don't have the budget to make a [[PeopleInRubberSuits somewhat convincing monster suit]], or an animatronic puppet, or stop motion, or even a crappily animated CGI monster.

But, all hope is not lost. No.... you can just take an ordinary lizard, alligator or other non-extinct reptile (or, very rarely, other smallish animal), stick it in a costume or glue on a few cardboard fins and horns, and... '''ta-da!''' Instant dinosaur!

Of course, having an [[AdventurerArchaeologist Adventurer Palaeontologist]] pointing to an [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever oversized iguana]] with horns glued to its head and calling it a "''Brontosaurus''" [[SpecialEffectsFailure is just as convincing as it sounds]], not to mention a [[ArtisticLicensePaleontology complete and utter mockery of palaeontology]]. After all, if a five-year-old kid can tell the difference between a ''TyrannosaurusRex'' and an iguana, it's highly unlikely ''anyone'' is going to be convinced that your cardboard-taped-to-his-back monitor lizard is supposed to be a dinosaur. Especially if they have any understanding of the SquareCubeLaw.

Still, [[SoBadItsGood that's what makes these movies such cheesy fun anyway]]. A good source of NightmareRetardant, many fans suspect that these films' animal stars are the film-makers' pets. This has been a DiscreditedTrope since the 1960s. A normal-sized but similarly nonthreatening movie animal is the TerrifyingPetStoreRat.

----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* Parodied in a series of ads for [=McDonald's=] in the UK, which showed people running from a superimposed cute Pug in a lizard costume. The idea being that this is what you got if you spent 99p on a special effects budget instead of their Pound saver menu.
* Also in a Heineken ad which showed a tortoise with stegosaurus plates glued to its shell.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* One ''FoxTrot'' strip features Jason trying to make his iguana look like a dinosaur by taping a fan to its back. Another time, after failing to FollowTheLeader after ''AirBud'' by teaching him to play sports, he tried to make a ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}''-esque monster movie by dropping him on a miniature city.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* The TropeNamer example (albeit by fans of the film), and the one where most of this footage comes from is ''One Million BC'' with Victor Mature and Carole Landis (remade by Ray Harryhausen and Charles Shneer as ''{{Film/One Million Years BC}}'' featuring [[NubileSavage Raquel Welch]]). This film had a plethora of animals in makeup and/or visually enlarged to make them look monstrous. The image above is from this movie. Other examples from this film include an Elephant in fur as a Woolly Mammoth, a pig with glued on horns and a tail as a ''Triceratops'', Alligator with a Glued on Fin (enlarged), various enlarged lizards (monitors, iguana, skinks) as Dinosaurs, a snake and enlarged Coati(the coati eats the snake on screen) and an (enlarged) armadillo with rubber horns. It also featured a [[PeopleInRubberSuits Rubber Suit T-Rex]] which was NOT enlarged in any way. Yeah, it's SoBadItsGood. The FX from this film got reused from the 1940s through the 1960s in such [[SarcasmMode well known]] films as: ''Tarzan's Desert Mystery'', ''Two Lost Worlds'', ''The Lost Volcano'', the American version of ''Film/GodzillaRaidsAgain'', ''Jungle Manhunt'', ''Untamed Women'', ''Film/RobotMonster'', ''Film/KingDinosaur'', ''Film/TeenageCaveman'', ''Valley of the Dragons'', ''Journey to the Center of Time'', ''Horror of the Blood Monsters'' (the stock footage was tinted in color for this film), and the Mexican films ''Island of the Dinosaurs'' (''La Isla De Los Dinosaurios'') and ''Adventure at the Center of the Earth'' (''Aventura al Centro de la Tierra''). If you've seen much ''MST3K'', you've probably seen the footage in question a few times.
** The Harryhausen movie generally avoided this (favoring stop-motion instead), although a real lizard and spider were thrown in around the beginning to liven things up (and as an homage to the original film which did employ it). A few critics complained that the ''Archelon'' scene used a real turtle, but it didn't; Harryhausen just made a really good model. The picture above is currently that example.
* A mammalian example would be the film ''TheKillerShrews''. When the so-called giant shrews were not being played by cheap puppets, they were being played by dogs in ''very'' unconvincing costumes. This is hilariously pointed out in the ''MysteryScienceTheater3000'' episode that featured this movie.
* As another mammalian example, it was parodied in ''Film/TeamAmericaWorldPolice'', with Kim Jong Il's "deadly panthers" played by black cats.
* ''TheGiantGilaMonster'' more traditionally has a reptile play a reptile. The title monster looks okay -- except for the fact that it isn't a gila lizard. [[DontExplainTheJoke It's a Mexican Beaded Lizard.]]
* The 1960 adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's ''Literature/TheLostWorld'' is notorious for this. Particularly when Creator/ClaudeRains identifies an iguana with plastic fins as a ''brontosaurus''. The most definitely not-fake alligator vs. monitor lizard battle shows one of the main reasons why this trope isn't used anymore. This is the last real use of this trope in the classic sense.
** Referenced with the page's quote, in the [[Film/TheLostWorldJurassicPark Spielberg 1997 film of the same name]].
* In the 1959 film ''JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth'', optically enlarged lizards with fins glued to their backs play dimetrodons, a synapsid that actually looks... ''sort of'' like a lizard with a fin on its back (though the ones in the film are somewhat larger than their real-life counterparts). They don't actually look too bad.
** Although, this is later played again with an even bigger monitor lizard in the ruins of Atlantis which they didn't even try to pass off as anything unique.
* In ''King Dinosaur'' (from 1955) an iguana plays a ''TyrannosaurusRex'' (which, for some reason, lives on another planet). Hilariously, the ''biologist'' identifies the obvious iguana as a tyrannosaur! As well as throwing in ''One Million BC'' Stock Footage.
* The large fire-breathing dragon in 1971 Swedish fantasy comedy ''Äppelkriget''/''The Apple War'' is played by a little lizard. Then again, the special effects are really not the point of that film.
* A similar example appears in the 1970s Czech fairy tale movie ''Princ a Večernice'' (''The Prince and the Evening Star''). During the prince's epic journey to fulfill his quest, he has to climb a high cliff at one moment. When he finally reaches the cliff's edge, [[OurDragonsAreDifferent a dragon-like monster]] appears before him... played by the all-time slurpasaur favourite -- [[NarmCharm an iguana!]] This gets justified and subverted in an amusing way though : The "dragon" immediately vanishes, since it's just another illusion summoned by the evil wizard of the story, who's trying to discourage the prince from continuing further...
* Parodied in Creator/TimBurton's short film ''{{Frankenweenie}}''. The film opens with the projection of the protagonist's homemade film, on it, "dinosaurs" made of handkerchief sock puppets "fight" and then the "monster" appears: the protagonist's dog in a costume.
* Proving that it's possible to dress up an animal and make it work, the banthas from ''Film/ANewHope'' were played by an elephant draped with thick furs and a puppet head, and since they could only afford one elephant several scenes with more than one were achieved through optical compositing. In a few scenes the elephant's truck can be barely seen through the furs but it's otherwise a convincing illusion, though the elephant in question (named Mardji) apparently attempted to remove her costume several times during filming and caused a few outtakes. Averted with Yoda, who was initially conceived as being portrayed by a costumed monkey rather than a puppet.
* ''The Land Unknown'' (1957) had two stegosauruses fighting each other which were obviously photographically enlarged monitor lizards.
* ''Film/KingKongVsGodzilla'' features a giant octopus as a bonus monster on top of the two in the title. For the most part it was portrayed by a live octopus, but in a few shots it was replaced by a rubber model or a stop-motion model.
* ''Film/{{Nosferatu}}'' used a striped hyena to pose as a werewolf.
** One can't help but wonder if using a dog was rejected for being too unrealistic.
* ''Film/{{Alien3}}'' attempted to put an alien suit on a small dog for a brief scene when the xenomorph is still at small size, but when they looked at the rushes [[EpicFail it looked exactly like a small dog wearing an alien suit]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''MoreInformationThanYouRequire'', the mole-men ride around on "pseudosaurs", enormous iguanas that they think are dinosaurs.
* [[Creator/BruceCoville Bruce Coville's]] ''Camp Haunted Hills'' trilogy is set at a camp where the attendees learn how to make movies. Harry Housen, who teaches special effects, specializes in holographic projection and is always painting his pet iguana Myron different colors, or pasting wings, fins or other things on the lizard, even figuring out how to make smoke come out of Myron's nostrils at one point, and then uses the altered iguana as a model for said holograms. Fortunately, the lizard is very patient about all this. The resulting holograms are more effective than one would think - they terrify both humans AND, in the finale, a family of Bigfoot holding the heroes captive.
* Inverted in the original ''Literature/JurassicPark'' novel, where the ''Procompsognatus'' that attacked the little girl on the beach is misidentified by a reptile expert as a ''Basiliscus'', a present-day lizard that is known for occasionally standing and running on 2 legs.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Played straight:
*** Actually used very effectively with the giant maggots in "The Green Death", which were real maggots on miniature sets when not puppets made of condoms and taxidermy supplies.
*** One of the more infamous examples is from ''The Talons of Weng-Chiang'', in which close-ups of a rat in a model sewer are meant to suggest a terrifying giant rat. A man in a rat costume is also used. Sadly, and predictably, [[SpecialEffectsFailure the real rat and the rat suit of course look nothing alike]].
** Subverted:
*** Subverted (in a way) in the story "Colony in Space". A robot with claws plus a hologram simulates a giant lizard attack.
*** The same plot point was used in the later story "Vengeance on Varos", only with a hologram (stock footage) of a fly instead of an iguana. ''Series/DoctorWho'' also played the trope straight at least once.
* Parodied in a Little Red Riding Hood-based skit on ''[[Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus]]'' (also seen in ''Creator/MontyPython Live at the Hollywood Bowl'') in which the Big Bad Wolf is played by a tired-looking dachshund with a piece of faux fur tied to its back.
* The low-budget Canadian ''HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys'' [[FollowTheLeader wannabe]], ''The Adventures of Sinbad'', used superimposed crows and iguanas as giant monsters for its first season.
* One of the TimeTravel episodes in ''Series/HoneyIShrunkTheKids: [[RecycledTheSeries The Series]]'' has the family being transported to "prehistoric times" and being promptly chased by a giant monitor lizard. The [[TVGenius alleged]] ChildProdigy identifies it as a ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenontosaurus Tenontosaurus]]'', which in reality was a ''vegetarian'' dinosaur. [[ArtisticLicensePaleontology And then a caveman shows up]].
* An interesting case where this actually works is the BBC documentary series ''MonstersWeMet''. The giant Haast eagle is played by an enlarged Harpy eagle, and it's downright creepy.
* An [[AmericasFunniestHomeVideos AFV]] submission spoofing ''Film/JurassicPark'' used dinosaurs played by guinea pigs. '''GUINEA PIGS.'''
* An episode of ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' had a lovable alien creature played by...a pomeranian with a horn stuck between its eyes. Granted, it fulfilled its main requirement: it was cute, and could alternately be lovable/evil.
** Klingon ''targs'' throughout the various series were generally played by largish dogs in costume, although since the ''targ'' was supposed to be roughly that size and mammalian (vaguely like a small, angry boar), it didn't go too poorly.
** The ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Resolutions" used a spider monkey that had been trained to walk on its hind legs. Unfortunately the first time we see it is in a tree, so the effect is ruined. And even when it's standing, it's still recognizable as a monkey.
* ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' occasionally has Arthur fighting giant underground monsters, vaguely mammalian but with no hair and huge front teeth. They are actually [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_mole_rat naked mole rats]] filmed close-up and superimposed on the action. And this from a series that routinely includes a convincing CGI dragon.
* Despite being created with CGI, the Ancestral Komodo Dragon from {{Terra Nova}} may be a subtle parody of this trope.
* In a shout-out to the ''Doctor Who'' example above, ''Series/DrTerriblesHouseOfHorrible'' used miniature footage of an ordinary crab superimposed on footage of a sewer, as well as some footage of a claw puppet, in order to give the impression of a GiantEnemyCrab.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pinball]]
* There's one on the middle of the playfield for {{Atari}}'s ''Pinball/MiddleEarth'' pinball, right next to the TyrannosaurusRex.
* The "Pangea" table in ''VideoGame/EpicPinball'' prominently features a dinosaur that resembles an oversized alligator more than anything else.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* In ''TeamAmericaWorldPolice'', all the characters are puppets, so when they need the characters to get attacked by panthers, they use regular black kittens with {{Mighty Roar}}s dubbed over them. PlayedForLaughs, of course.
** And the SharkPool is full of little dogfish -- you can't say they aren't sharks!
* ''Series/{{Thunderbirds}}'' episode [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "Attack of the Alligators"]] features an accident with some kind of SuperSerum getting into the water table near a laboratory somewhere in Louisiana. Live baby alligators were employed on model sets alongside miniatures of the characters, but since working around the limitations of models and miniatures was what Gerry Anderson Productions ''did'', it actually worked fairly well. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIkAD_uXCBA Have a look.]]
** It doesn't hurt that alligators are actually scary on their own. (Although it's rather easy for reptile aficionados to tell that they're babies.)
** [[FridgeBrilliance Actually,]] a SuperSerum that only affects creatures while they're still growing makes more sense anyway... which suggests the giant 'gators were going to get ''bigger''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:TabletopGames]]
* In a joke ''DragonMagazine'' contest in which gamers had to write about why they love [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever Giant]] [[{{Spelljammer}} Space]] [[RodentsOfUnusualSize Hamsters]], one entry claimed to love how, instead of using a miniature, they could set their pet hamster loose on the gaming table and have a ''really'' random encounter.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:WebComic]]
* Made fun of in ''WebComic/GirlsWithSlingshots'', during Maureen and Jameson's honeymoon when they travel to a Dinosaur theme park with a "Brachiosaurus" which is a just a giraffe painted green and a "Triceratops" which is a rhinoceros with a glued frill.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* There's a quite funny YouTube video claiming to be of "A GIANT SPIDER". [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DsaXfNgQZ4 It's a dachshund in a spider suit]].
* A sort-of LetsPlay featuring [[RomHack every single way there is to hack, glitch and otherwise mess with]] ''{{Pokemon}} Blue'' has one joke entry where the cartridge is put through various abuse themed around [[ElementalRockPaperScissors the Pokemon types]]. When they get to the [[OurDragonsAreDifferent Dragon]] type, they settle for [[CrowningMomentOfFunny taping a bunch of spikes and wings to a cat]].
* Spoofed in ''[[http://www.captainbucky.com/ The Adventures of Captain Bucky and his Space Marshals, in Outer Space]]'' where the terrifying Moon monster is a Chihuahua (the same one used for the SeriesMascot) with additions.
* [[http://www.angelfire.com/ego/g_saga/slurpasaurs_article.html At least one website has overanyalysed the biology behind these.]]
* A prankster [[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/mutant-spider-dog-prank-video_n_5767032.html dressed up his dog]] as a giant spider, then went around using it to scare people and posting footage of the encounters on Facebook.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied by Olive Jar Animation's ''GilaMonster!'' Each episode of this stop-motion animation series ended with the director letting his pet iguana (obviously not gila monster) wander through the dollhouse-sized sets. Best episode ended with the iguana "tasting" part of the scenery. D'awww...
* Also parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' "The Startling" story arc, which really needs to be seen to be believed.
-->"Guinea Dragon!!!"\\
"Run for your lives! It's a ''Guinessaurus rex''!"
* In one episode of ''{{Doug}}'', Doug and Skeeter were making a monster movie in their backyard. They attached a cardboard shark fin, tail, and jaws to Porkchop, to make him into a "shark dog".
* Parodied in an episode of ''TheAngryBeavers'' in which Norb, Dag, and Stump go spelunking. They see the massive shadow of a ferocious dimetrodon-like animal approaching them...[[JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth which turns out to be a tiny lizard with a fin conspicuously taped to its back]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* LeonardoDaVinci supposedly glued some wings onto a lizard and told his friends he'd found a real dragon, before revealing the truth. Imagine him telling them all they'd been punk'd.
* The Fiji Mermaid, a hoax created by sewing together the corpses of a fish and a monkey.
* When platypus specimens were sent to Europe shortly after Australia was settled they were widely believed to be [[RealityIsUnrealistic an example of this.]]
* Another hoax was the Jenny Haniver; it's actually just a mangled carcass of a skate or ray, but they got paraded around by curiosity-cabinets and such for years as some kind of bizarre new monster.
* Ever wonder why you know exactly what a unicorn horn looks like, with the spiral running down it? It's because during the Middle Ages, "unicorn horns" were common both in Wonder Cabinets and in rich people's home-remedies (mostly for impotency)--they actually came from narwhals.
* Not even people are exempt! During the 1800s especially, actors would be pretend to be 'wild men' from jungles, islands, and so on. One from the San Fransisco Barbary Coast era was known only as Oofty Goofty, the only words he spoke while in costume; his handlers first covered him in tar, then stuck horse hair into it. In the end, he had to go the hospital because it wouldn't come off, and he wound up having to soak in chemical thinners on the hospital roof for a few days. The end result of which killed off most of his pain receptors on his body, allowing him to think up his next great act: have people pay to hit him with a baseball bat since he 'felt no pain'. This act lasted until a heavyweight boxer gave him a whack and cracked several ribs.
* The Pleistocene varanid lizard ''Megalania'' could be seen by some as nature's example of this trope.
** Same for its contemporary ''Meiolania'' a.k.a. the tortoise that [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiolania wished it was an ankylosaur.]]
** With the recent evidence that it might be quadrupedal, we can add ''[[UsefulNotes/StockDinosaursTrueDinosaurs Spinosaurus]]'', who now looks less like a sailed dinosaur with a crocodile head and more like a giant crocodile with a sail on its back. Some 50s slurpasaurs were exactly that.
* Draco lizards ''look'' like they're this trope, when they have their gliding-flaps extended. They're real lizards that can protrude their ribs outwards to support sail-like structures along their sides.
* As well as lizards from the genus ''Basiliscus'', who are known to run on two legs like dinosaurs.
* Inverted with the very first named dinosaur. ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalosaurus Megalosaurus]]'' means "big lizard", because that's what it was believed to have been back in 1824. Keep in mind that it was known only from a fraction of the lower jaw, which resembled a scaled-up version of the jaw of a carnivorous monitor lizard, so this wasn't a bad guess.
[[/folder]]

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