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John Leguizamo Lends Voice to Newly Discovered California Dinosaurs in Latest Animated Role

First Posted: Dec 27, 2013 08:17 PM EST

What does comedian-turned-actor-turned animated prehistoric bird, John Leguizamo and paleontology have in common? A new-found affection for the Alexornis bird, which was discovered in Baja California and Mexico.

In the new animated family movie Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Leguizamo lends his voice to the character, Alex, "a feisty prehistoric bird and the film's narrator who tells the story of Patchi, a dinosaur known as the Pachyrhinosaurus, who helps his herd migrate their way through a terrain filled with dangerous predators."

When it comes to the arts, especially in animated films, Leguizamo is chameleon at his craft and brings his comedic spin on his characters.

"I like my voice to really disappear into the character. I don't want people to think about John. I want them to think about the character. These are newly discovered dinosaurs," he told Gozamos. "This Alexornis bird (Alex) was just found in Mexico, so we gave it this Spanish flavor."

According to BBC Earth, "One species of Enantiornithes is about to become very famous -- and you can see it in the trailers for the forthcoming 'Walking with Dinosaurs' movie. Brightly-colored and fast-flying, the bird is called Alexornis antecedens. In the movie, it is one of the main characters -- a friendly guy called Alex.

"If you don't know much about Alexornis, you are not alone. We only have one fragmentary fossil of this prehistoric bird: bits of the shoulder, wing and leg. These were found in Late Cretaceous rocks in Baja California, Mexico, in the 1970s, and they tell us one thing for certain: Alexornis was small, probably about the size of a living finch. Almost everything else we think we know about Alexornis is based on fossils of related species," BBC Earth reports.

Over 50 species of enantiornithines are known, BBC Earth points out. "In many parts of the world, in a time before the evolution of modern songbirds and birds of prey, they would have been a common sight."

The film is based on BBC's 1999 miniseries Walking with Dinosaurs, which used computer-generated imagery to bring the prehistoric creatures to life.

"You know, the BBC, who is producing this, quadruple fact checked everything. All the facts are up to date. The technology is also cutting edge. It is really photorealistic," Leguizamo said. "The studio designed the movie's characters based on real information and real behaviors."

As mentioned, the computer generated characters are set on the backdrops of real environments, which adds a rich visual component to the film.

"You're going to hear a lot of oohs and aahs. That's what it does. It ups the whole 'wow' factor. You're watching it thinking, 'This is real! This isn't made up!' It's crazy how it messes with your mind," he adds.

Audiences loved Leguizamo in Ice Age, but in this film, it's different: "In this one, they animated it first because they wanted it to be true to the dinosaurs' behaviors. Then we did the voices. In 'Ice Age,' they animated to our voices. In 'Walking with Dinosaurs,' they animated it first and then we had to study the footage a lot and then put our voices to it."

Check out the tralier for Walking with Dinosaurs 3D:

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