All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/TV Reviews

Reviews, comments and feedback on television programmes featuring themes of interest to dinosaur fans and fossil collectors by Everything Dinosaur team members.

29 05, 2022

Fires Started by “Raptors”

By | May 29th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Key Stage 3/4, Main Page, Photos, Teaching, TV Reviews|0 Comments

In episode four (Ice Worlds) of the acclaimed television series “Prehistoric Planet”, a troodontid dinosaur is depicted deliberately spreading a forest fire. Is this behaviour plausible? This Apple TV+ series has been praised for depicting prehistoric animals not as movie monsters but as animals capable of complex behaviours as seen in living relatives. The behaviour of many of the dinosaurs in the documentary series reflects behaviour observed and documented in birds.

The clever troodontid from the television series "Prehistoric Planet"
The feathered troodontid, regarded as one of the cleverest non-avian dinosaurs to have evolved, searches for a smouldering ember in order to start a fire elsewhere in the forest. Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Lead scientific consultant for the five-part, nature documentary series, vertebrate palaeontologist and author Darren Naish has used his extensive knowledge of the living world to create realistic scenarios illustrating behaviours of long extinct creatures.

For example, the troodontid is depicted carefully selecting a burning ember and carrying it to another, as yet unburnt, part of the forest in order to deliberately start a fire. Fire starting is a behaviour that has been observed in some species of birds.

Troodontid on the prowl (Prehistoric Planet Apple TV Plus)
A troodontid patrols the edge of a forest fire in a northern, Late Cretaceous forest. Small animals fleeing the flames would make an easy target for this hunter, but did it deliberately carry smouldering embers to create further fires as part of its hunting strategy? Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Forest Fires Provide an Opportunity for Hunters

Flames and smoke from a forest fire, presumably started by lightning would cause animals to flee and a hunter like a troodontid could patrol the fringes of the fire and ambush any small mammal, lizards or birds that had been panicked and were attempting to avoid the flames.

In the scene which features the troodontid, this clever little dinosaur (troodontids having relatively large brains in proportion to their body size), chooses an ember and deliberately carries it to another part of the forest to in order to spread the fire.

A troodontid carries a smouldering stick.
In the television episode the troodontid is shown carrying an ember from the forest fire. It drops the ember in a part of the forest not yet ablaze in a bid to flush out more potential prey. Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Australian Fire Hawks

Indigenous Australians have reported that certain types of bird intentionally spread fires in order to exploit feeding opportunities. People in northern Australia have considered the black kite (Milvus migrans), the whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus) and the brown falcon (Falco berigora) to be “fire hawks” picking up smouldering debris moving it some distance and then dropping it in a bid to spread the conflagration. Some of the observations and anecdotes were reported in a scientific paper published in the “Journal of Ethnobiology”.

The paper attempted to document evidence supporting the theory that many birds of prey used fires to help them find food, making easy meals out of insects and other small animals attempting to avoid the blaze.

A successful hunt for a troodontid
A successful hunt. The intelligent and resourceful troodontid claims its prize. Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Co-author of the scientific paper, which was published in 2017, Mark Bonta (Pennsylvania State University), commented:

“We’re not discovering anything. Most of the data that we’ve worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples. They’ve known this for probably 40,000 years or more.”

Other Scientists are Sceptical

Some experts have expressed scepticism, whether these birds were intentionally spreading fires or were seen to pick up sticks as a consequence of darting down to capture prey but missing their intended target.

Anthony Molyneux of the Alice Springs Desert Park commented:

“If [hawks] have missed the prey and perhaps grabbed a stick, they will drop that stick or rock. If the stick is smouldering or on fire, then it will start another fire.”

In a 2016 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Bob Gosford, an Australian indigenous-rights lawyer and ornithologist explained that these raptors thrive in areas where wildfires are common.

In the interview he stated:

“It’s a feeding frenzy, because out of these grasslands come small birds, lizards, insects, everything fleeing the front of the fire.”

There have been many first-hand accounts of hawks and other birds of prey picking up burning sticks in their claws and dropping them in a fresh area of dry grass several hundred metres away to start another fire.

No one can ever know whether troodontids or other theropod dinosaurs indulged in this fire-spreading behaviour, but research is on-going to determine whether their close relatives (birds) deliberately spread fires.

It certainly made an intriguing and thought-provoking segment in the documentary series.

The scientific paper: “Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia” by Mark Bonta, Robert Gosford, Dick Eussen, Nathan Ferguson, Erana Loveless, Maxwell Witwer published in the Journal of Ethnobiology.

20 05, 2022

Zhenyuanlong suni – Reconstruction

By | May 20th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

As we await the first episode of the exciting Apple TV + series “Prehistoric Planet” with its cornucopia of feathered dinosaurs we thought we would post up one of our favourite dromaeosaur illustrations – Zhenyuanlong suni by Zhao Chuang.

Zhenyuanlong illustrated.
Very probably a ground-dwelling predator. Named and described in 2015 (Lü and Brusatte), Z. suni is one of several dromaeosaurs that have been named and described from fossils found in Liaoning Province. Picture credit: Zhao Chuang.

Dromaeosaurs a Plenty

The five-part documentary television series “Prehistoric Planet” will feature a variety of small, feathered dinosaurs including troodontids and dromaeosaurs. These animals will not be shown tackling large prey but reflecting behaviour as inferred by the fossil record and seen in their living, close relatives the birds.

Viewers can expect to see many of the prehistoric animals that have been so beautifully illustrated by the incredibly talented Chinese artist Zhao Chuang brought to life thanks to ground-breaking CGI and state-of-the-art puppetry.

Steve Brusatte, (School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh), a co-author of the scientific paper describing Z. suni, is one of the scientific consultants involved in the BBC/Apple TV + documentary series. Viewers can expect to see plenty of feathered dinosaurs, although Zhenyuanlong suni will not feature.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The five television programmes will focus on different ecosystems that flourished during the Late Cretaceous. Whilst there are many genera of small, feathered dinosaurs including numerous troodontid and dromaeosaurid taxa featured in the programmes, Zhenyuanlong suni lived during the Early Cretaceous. It had been extinct for tens of millions of years prior to the time in which these programmes are set.”

To read Everything Dinosaur’s original blog post announcing the discovery of a large-bodied dromaeosaur from the famous Liaoning Province of China: New Winged Dragon from Liaoning Province.

The scientific paper: “A large, short-armed, winged dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous of China and its implications for feather evolution” by Junchang Lü and Stephen L. Brusatte published in the journal Scientific Reports.

8 05, 2020

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

By | May 8th, 2020|Animal News Stories, Famous Figures, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

Today, May 8th, is Sir David Attenborough’s birthday.  Sir David Attenborough has enjoyed the best part of seventy years as a broadcaster, narrator and television presenter.  His energy and enthusiasm for the natural world shows no sign of deteriorating despite him being just six years short of his centenary.  Over recent years, the veteran broadcaster has become an active campaigner raising awareness about climate change, global warming and the impact of our species on the planet.  He remains as busy as ever, with the BBC producing a new five-part television series narrated by Sir David, highlighting how natural forces such as ocean currents, seismic activity, sunshine and volcanoes contribute to maintaining a sustainable natural world.  A source close to Everything Dinosaur has stated that the series is entitled “A Perfect Planet”.

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough.

A gentleman and a scholar.  Sir David Attenborough is 94 years old today.

Many Happy Returns

The television programmes will also highlight how some animals such as snub-nosed monkeys, wolves and bears are having to adapt as the world around them changes.  Birdlife from the Galapagos islands including vampire finches will also feature in the series.

Commenting on the significance of these programmes, Sir David stated that:

“To preserve our perfect planet we must ensure we become a force for good”.

The fifth and final episode will look at how our species has impacted upon the environment and the billions of other organisms that share our world.

Sir David added:

“Our planet is one in a billion, a world teeming with life.  But now, a new dominant force is changing the face of Earth: humans”.

Team members have been lucky enough to have corresponded with Sir David Attenborough, he remains as enthusiastic as ever and passionate about conservation.  Many happy returns Sir David, stay safe, keep well.

Sir David Attenborough – A Nonagenarian Passionately Campaigning to Raise Awareness About Climate Change

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough veteran naturalist and broadcaster.  An active campaigner raising awareness about climate change and global warming.

Picture Credit: BBC

1 04, 2020

Everything Dinosaur – Free Resources Including Teaching Materials

By | April 1st, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Main Page, Press Releases, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur – Providing Support and Free Teaching Resources

The Chinese have a saying “may you live in interesting times”.  These are certainly interesting times as we all have to get used to the “new normal” with the coronavirus pandemic to contend with.  Team members would like to convey their thoughts and best wishes to all those who have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

We have introduced new measures and policies that have enabled the mail order part of our business to keep operating.  In these difficult times, having a hobby to act as a distraction can provide great comfort and help to relieve stress.   Dinosaur model collecting can have a positive impact on mental health and we have been delighted to receive lots of pictures (and videos too), from collectors who have showcased their collections.

The Mail Order Operations of Everything Dinosaur – Still in Business

Free resources and providing support.

Free resources and support from Everything Dinosaur.  The mail order part of the business is still operating and team members are supporting customers by providing lots of free to use resources and teaching materials.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Helping to Support Teachers and Those Teaching at Home

Everything Dinosaur has been able to put in place contingency plans helping to keep the company operating through these uncertain times.  Our outreach work, liaising with museums and other academic institutions has had to be temporarily put on hold and our school visits have been postponed, but team members are doing all they can to support teachers, teaching assistants, parents, guardians and all those people home schooling at the moment.

Free to Use Teaching Materials and Learning Resources All with a Prehistoric Animal Theme

Free teaching resources and learning materials from Everything Dinosaur.

Free learning materials, teaching resources and advice provided by Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We do appreciate that the education of many children has been disrupted.  We know how challenging this can be, not just for teaching professionals but also for those adults who have children at home who now need to take on a teaching role and to also find ways of keeping their charges entertained.  Hopefully, our free to use teaching materials, lesson plans and activity ideas will prove to be helpful in the current situation.  We have already supplied hundreds of free downloads and our dedicated school website is geared to handle even more requests in the next few weeks.”

A Blog Site and Lots for Free Puzzles and Games

The Everything Dinosaur blog continues to provide a useful source of information regarding science stories and fossil discoveries.  Team members are striving to maintain their routine of posting one new article every day.  In addition, staff have been busy sending out free puzzles, dinosaur themed quizzes, word searches and even specially compiled dinosaur themed crosswords following requests from fans of prehistoric animals.

The Everything Dinosaur Blog is a Useful Place to Gather Information and We Have Also Sent Out Lots of Free Games and Puzzles

Everything Dinosaur's blog provides lots of helpful resources and team members provide free downloads.

The Everything Dinosaur blog provides lots of helpful resources and team members provide free downloads.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur on YouTube and Facebook

It’s not just education, we recognise that in the current situation there is a need to entertain as well as inform.  Team members have been busy creating new YouTube videos and posting up several times a day onto the company’s social media pages including the Facebook site.

Everything Dinosaur Providing Lots of On-line Content to Support Dinosaur Fans

Helping with home schooling supporting our customers.

Free to access YouTube and Facebook resources including teaching materials, information and learning resources.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

If you wish to subscribe to the Everything Dinosaur newsletter so that you can keep up with company developments, simply email us: Email Everything Dinosaur.

To subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

29 12, 2017

Television Documentary Gives T. rex a Makeover

By | December 29th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

T. rex Gets a New Look for a Television Documentary

The most iconic vertebrate in the fossil record, Tyrannosaurus rex has been given a makeover as part of a new television documentary programme due to be shown on the BBC.  The hour-long documentary entitled “The Real T. rex with Chris Packham” is due to be shown on BBC Two on Tuesday, 2nd of January.  According to the latest scientific research, this formidable Late Cretaceous predator may have looked very different from the way it is usually depicted in books, television programmes and on the big screen.

An Illustration of Tyrannosaurus rex (2018)

A fuzzy T. rex with orange eye-markings and bristles.

A new illustration of T. rex (2018).

Everything Dinosaur team members have known about the television documentary for several months, the aim of this programme is to update what T. rex might have looked like based on the very latest palaeontology, including studies of other feathered Theropods and the publishing of a scientific paper on the skin of Tyrannosaurus rex.

To read about the forthcoming documentary: Rediscovering T. rex Television Documentary

Confirmation of broadcast timings in the UK: New Time for Tyrannosaurus rex Documentary

Covered in Bristles with a Markings Around the Eyes

The Tyrannosaurus rex makeover will not hold many surprises for dinosaur fans.  Most of the information the programme divulges is not new, but for those viewers who think that the solitary, scaly hunter with a huge roar as in “Jurassic World”, is an accurate depiction, they are in for quite a shock.

A New Look for T. rex

T. rex makeover (2018).

A new look for Tyrannosaurus rex (2018).

This iconic dinosaur from the Hell Creek Formation of North America is depicted as having a sparse covering of bristle-like feathers, a scaly skin covered in dark blotches and brightly coloured, orange flashes directly above the eyes.  Instead of a terrifying roar, this dinosaur was capable of producing a limited range of vocalisations, roaring is out, replaced by a virtually, inaudible low-frequency rumble, reminiscent of an elephant.

Over the course of the programme, presenter Chris Packham discusses with various experts what T. rex probably looked like and how it might have behaved based on the latest fossil evidence.  It is not that surprising, but the consensus of opinion is that Tyrannosaurus rex had more in common with birds than it does with today’s crocodiles.  Not an astounding revelation given that T. rex was a lot more closely related to birds than to crocodilians.

Covered in Dark Blotches

In the segment featuring Professor Julia Clarke (University of Texas), the skin colouration of this seven-tonne giant is discussed.  Professor Clarke postulates that this animal was covered in dark patches.  An analysis of fossilised dinosaur skin has identified structures similar to those that produce the natural pigment melanin.  This suggests that T. rex could have been dark coloured and blotchy, perhaps to help break up its outline in dappled light, in a similar vein to the markings on some World War II battleships.  The colouration of this dinosaur remains controversial, as the tendency to find structures that resemble melanin might reflect a bias in the fossilisation process.

The absence of a total body covering of feathers in an adult animal is explained by the concept of the rate of heat loss based on the ratio between surface area and volume.  A large animal in excess of thirteen metres long, such as Tyrannosaurus rex would have had a large volume compared to its surface area.  It would have lost heat to its surroundings more slowly than smaller animals.  Over-heating for an active predator could have been more of a problem rather than trying to keep warm, especially if T. rex was endothermic (warm-blooded).  Hence, the lack of feathers on the body, a few stiff bristles and some tufts rather than a thick, shaggy coat.  Younger animals with a larger surface areas compared to their volume, such as the sub-adult “Tristan” Tyrannosaur that features in the programme, may have had a more substantial coat helping to insulate the animal.

The idea of a sparsely feathered T. rex has already been explored by model manufacturer CollectA.  In 2018, they will be introducing a 1:40 scale replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex with fewer feathers than their current feathered T. rex model.  In a direct comparison with modern flightless birds such as the Cassowary, the television documentary suggests that this dinosaur may have retained “a light patching of feathery bristles strategically placed for social display”.

Less Feathers on the New for 2018 CollectA T. rex Replica

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale roaring T. rex.

CollectA roaring feathered T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Distinctive Markings Like a Bird of Prey

Detailed scans of the fossil bones suggest that these dinosaurs might have fought with each other, perhaps over food, mates or even to decide hierarchies within packs or family groups.  The bright orange crests over the eyes also portray T. rex with more affinities to the Aves.  Birds have colour vision and rely on colour for visual displays.  The scientists argue that the thickened ridges found on the skulls of adult animals may represent the remains of crests or prominent lumps that were very colourful and used to show maturity, dominance and perhaps played a role in ritual displays.

Chris Packham Comes Face to Face with the New T. rex

Chris Packham and the new T. rex.

Presenter Chris Packham comes face to face with T. rex.

Picture Credit: BBC Media

To read an article on the study of the skin of T. rexT. rex Sheds Its Feathers

28 12, 2017

Attenborough and the Sea Dragon

By | December 28th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Television Documentary on Ichthyosaurs Scheduled for BBC One

A television documentary exploring the life of a remarkable Ichthyosaur is due to be shown on BBC 1 on the evening of Sunday 7th January.  Entitled “Attenborough and the Sea Dragon”, this hour-long programme follows the excavation of an Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur fossil on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.  Sir David Attenborough, a keen fossil hunter himself, joins a team of experts as they attempt to excavate the fossilised remains and piece together the life story of an ancient sea monster.

A Computer-Generated Image of an Ichthyosaur

A monster of the deep - Ichthyosaurus.

A computer generated image of an Ichthyosaur.

Picture Credit: BBC Media

A Giant Sea Dragon

The fossilised remains, believed to represent the largest Ichthyosaur known from the British Isles, were discovered by Dorset fossil hunter Chris Moore in 2016.  The documentary programme will include a segment in which the fossil bones are scanned and a replica skeleton of the 200 million-year-old “fish lizard” is created.  By examining the bones, the team hope to bring this prehistoric sea creature’s story to life.

Fossil Hunter Chris Moore with Some Blocks of the Ichthyosaur Material

Dorset Fossil Hunter Chris Moore.

Chris Moore with some of the blocks containing the Ichthyosaur fossils.

Picture Credit: Richard Austin

Chris spotted the fossil material eroding out of a high cliff and the material had to be removed before the winter storms hit, otherwise the rare fossils would have been lost forever.

The extraordinary fossil includes skin impressions, this leads to new revelations about how these predators might have looked.   As the story unfolds, Sir David compares the sea dragon to animals alive today, including dolphins, sharks, crocodiles and turtles.

A 200 Million-Year-Old Murder Mystery

As more of the fossil bones are revealed the scientists make a startling discovery.  This Ichthyosaur did not die of natural causes, it was attacked, but what fearsome beast could have killed this giant?  Using techniques more at home in a police forensics laboratory than a paleo-preparation lab, the team piece together evidence that points the figure of suspicion at another huge Ichthyosaur – a seven-metre-long monster called Temnodontosaurus.

A Replica of a Temnodontosaurus (T. platydon) A Giant, Viviparous Ichthyosaur

CollectA Temnodontosaurus platyodon model.

Detailed Ichthyosaur figure. Temnodontosaurus platyodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Using state of the art imaging technology and cutting-edge CGI the team build the skeleton and create the most detailed animation of an Ichthyosaur ever made, bringing this Lyme Regis discovery to life as well as reconstructing its fate.

Programme Details

The one-hour television documentary is confirmed for BBC One on Sunday 7th January 8pm to 9pm.

It’s going to be well-worth watching.

16 12, 2017

New Time for BBC T. rex Documentary

By | December 16th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

BBC – The Real T. rex with Chris Packham (New Time)

A television documentary focusing on how our perceptions regarding the most famous dinosaur of all has changed has been rescheduled and will now be broadcast on Tuesday, January 2nd.

“The Real T. rex” presented by naturalist Chris Packham was due to be shown in late December, but this programme will now be shown on BBC 2 at 9pm on January 2nd.

Television Documentary on Tyrannosaurus rex

Naturalist Chris Packham and a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Chris Packham next to “Tristan” at the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin).

Picture Credit: BBC/Talesmith/Cineflix/Gordon Welters

Travelling the World to Learn More About Tyrannosaurus rex

In the programme information sent to Everything Dinosaur by BBC Media, an outline of the format of the one-hour-long programme is provided.  Chris embarks on a global journey to learn more about how scientists are reinterpreting Tyrannosaurus rex, a dinosaur which very probably, did not look like or sound like the animal portrayed in so many science fiction movies, including the new Jurassic World film (Fallen Kingdom), due to reach cinema screens in the summer of 2018.

Ground-breaking research into the composition of dinosaur skin, teeth and musculature, combined with reconstructions of the brain of this super-sized Theropod, are helping to redefine this iconic dinosaur.

Reptile or Bird?

Meeting numerous international dinosaur experts, the presenter aims to answer questions such as was T. rex a hunter or a scavenger?  What colour was this dinosaur and just how much of this dinosaur’s body was covered in feathers?  Was T. rex more bird-like than previously thought?

To read an article on the scientific study of skin impressions from a Tyrannosaurus rexT. rex Sheds its Feathers

Dinosaur model fans will already know that Everything Dinosaur exclusively revealed in a recent blog post that CollectA will be making a new deluxe. 1:40 scale feathered T. rex model, but this figure will have reduced plumage.

The New for 2018 CollectA Deluxe Roaring Tyrannosaurus rex Model

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale roaring T. rex.

CollectA roaring feathered T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Collectors should be able to pick up this figure around the middle of next year, shortly before the premier of “Fallen Kingdom”.

Trailblazing Technology

Documentary viewers have been promised the most accurate CGI representation of a Tyrannosaurus rex ever created.  Chris travels to meet Dr Greg Erikson, whose research with alligators is revealing the true power of this carnivore’s incredible bite.  In Dino State Park (Texas), he walks in the footsteps of real and still visible dinosaur footprints and with the help of biomechanics expert Professor John Hutchinson and a virtual treadmill, they determine how the predator moved.  Chris Packham is given unique access to “Tristan” a star exhibit at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

There is even an examination of the social life of T. rex, a section of this documentary in which Chris Packham explores the Badlands of Alberta in the company of renowned palaeontologist Phil Currie (University of Alberta).

Those programme details again:

“The Real T. rex with Chris Packham” – Tuesday 2nd January, BBC 2 from 9pm to 10pm.

27 09, 2017

New T. rex Documentary Coming Soon to the BBC

By | September 27th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases, TV Reviews|2 Comments

T. rex” Documentary with Chris Packham

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham will be presenting a special one-hour documentary on the “King of the Tyrant Lizards”.  Sources close to Everything Dinosaur expect this television programme to form part of the corporation’s Christmas 2017 schedule.

Chis Packham Brings Tyrannosaurus rex to Television

Chris Packham naturalist.

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham will narrate a documentary about T. rex.

Picture Credit: BBC

New Insight into the Life and Behaviour of an Apex Late Cretaceous Predator

Life-long dinosaur fan Chris Packham once told Everything Dinosaur team members that one of the first things he made at school was a plasticine model of T. rex.  His model with its kangaroo stance and tail dragging on the floor was based on pictures of Tyrannosaurus rex he had encountered in books.  In the fifty years or so, since Chris made that model, our understanding of this iconic Late Cretaceous predator has been transformed.  This sixty-minute, one-off television programme, aims to bring viewers up to date and combines state-of-the-art computer animation and the very latest research into one of the largest land carnivores known to science.

Viewers Can Expect T. rex to be Depicted with a Shaggy Coat of Feathers

CollectA hunting T. rex model.

A hunting T. rex.  The latest dinosaur models show T. rex as a feathered dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the programme, Chris embarks on a journey to expose the myths and misconceptions surrounding T. rex.  He aims to separate the science from the often inaccurate portrayal of this dinosaur as seen in many movies.  Viewers can expect further information about the running speed of this 7-tonne monster, it is unlikely there will be any scenes with a Tyrannosaur chasing down a jeep à la Jurassic Park.  Taking inspiration from the “Tyrannosaur Chronicles – The Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs” by palaeontologist Dr David Hone (London University), the programme will explore the biology, diet, behaviour and anatomy of T. rex.

The Truth Behind an Iconic Theropod

Chris will meet numerous international experts and joins an excavation site in the Badlands of South Dakota to see how fossilised bones are excavated and prepared for study.  One of the aims of the production team will be to produce the most accurate CGI model of a T. rex created to date, that’s a long way from the plasticine figure from Chris Packham’s childhood.  Expect to see plenty of feathers in what is being hailed as a trailblazing documentary blending the latest research from palaeontologists, ideas from zoologists and ground-breaking computer technology.

To help put “flesh on the bones”, as it were, Chris will have access to Tristan (Tristan Otto), one of the most complete T. rex specimens ever found.  Discovered in 2010 in the Hell Creek Formation (Montana), some 170 bones from a single individual have been collected.  Tristan is housed in the vertebrate fossil collection of the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin).  It is the only actual fossil T. rex skeleton exhibit in Europe and a team of scientists are currently involved in an extensive research project to learn more about the life and times of this twelve-metre-long monster.

“Tristan Otto” on Display at the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin, Germany)

"Tristan" Tyrannosaurus rex on display (Berlin).

“Tristan Otto” the T. rex specimen on display in Berlin.

Picture Credit: Carola Radke (Museum für Naturkunde)

The documentary makers promise new information and insights into Tyrannosaur brain function and more details on those deadly, bone crushing jaws.

Chris Packham commented:

“Big, fierce and extinct!  It’s the most famous, most glamorous poster pin-up in the zoological world; it’s the greatest animal that ever lived.  And yet perhaps the most misrepresented too.  It’s time to put that right.  T. rex has evolved more in my lifetime than the last 65 million years.  It’s gone from a grey tail-dragging dullard to an intelligent, social super-predator.  Using science, we will at last tell the truth about T. rex.  Don’t bother to put the kettle on!”

Dinosaur fans in the UK can expect this documentary to light up their Christmas viewing, it will probably be available in other countries too, as broadcasting rights get sorted.

“T. rex” for BBC2 is a co-production between Talesmith and Cineflix.  The Executive Producer is Martin Williams and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Diene Petterle.

12 01, 2016

“Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur”!

By | January 12th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

BBC Announces Date for TV Programme About “World’s Biggest Dinosaur”

Exciting news for dinosaur fans of all ages.  The BBC has ended the embargo on a new documentary programme outlining the discovery and study of over two hundred giant dinosaur bones found in Argentina.  The fossils represent a new species of enormous long-necked dinosaur (Titanosaur) and when finally named and scientifically described, this could be the largest dinosaur known to science, surpassing the likes of Argentinosaurus (A. huinculensis) and Futalognkosaurus dukei, fossils of which also come from Argentina.

Sir David Attenborough Lies Alongside a Giant Femur (Thigh Bone)

Potentially the biggest terrestrial animal known to science.

Potentially the biggest terrestrial animal known to science.

Picture Credit: BBC

The picture above provides a sense of scale for the huge animal, Sir David Attenborough is lying next to right femur (thigh bone) which measures 2.4 metres long.  This is the largest thigh bone ever found from a terrestrial animal.  Femora circumference data suggests a body mass in excess of seventy tonnes.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s report on the discovery of the fossil bones: The Biggest Dinosaur of All! A New South American Contender

A Graveyard of Giants

The television programme will be shown on BBC1 at 6.30pm on Sunday, 24th January.  It tells the story of how the fossils (over 220 of them have been excavated and catalogued), were found and follows the scientific research from excavation, preparation and cleaning right up to the unveiling of a life-sized model of the new type of Titanosaur.  With such a large number of bones to examine, the scientists have been able to build up quite a detailed picture of this dinosaur.  The fossilised bones represent a total of seven individual dinosaurs, the largest of which was the one that the Canadian and Argentinian team of model makers based their reconstruction on.

To conclude the programme, Sir David will unveil the new reconstruction of this enormous herbivore.  The model measures 37 metres long, that’s almost the equivalent of tacking the playing surface of Wimbledon’s Centre Court onto the length of a basketball court.  For comparison, “Dippy” the Diplodocus replica housed at the Natural History Museum (London), is only 26 metres long.  The reconstruction of Argentinosaurus huinculensis, housed in the Museo Municipal Carmen Funes, Plaza Huincul (Neuquén Province, Argentina) is around 35 metres in length.

The Reconstruction of A. huinculensis (Museo Municipal Carmen Funes)

The largest dinosaur yet described.

The largest dinosaur yet described, but under threat.

Picture Credit: Museo Municipal Carmen Funes, Plaza Huincul

Recalling the problems associated with the excavation of such huge fossils, Dr Diego Pol, lead scientist heading up the research team based at the Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, (Trelew, Argentina) stated:

“It was like a palaeontological crime scene, a unique thing that you don’t find anywhere else in the world with the potential of discovering all kinds of new facts about Titanosaurs.  According to our estimates this animal weighed 70 tonnes.  A comparison of the back bones shows that this animal was ten per cent larger than Argentinosaurus, the previous record holder.  So we have discovered the largest dinosaur ever known.”

The date when this animal roamed differs in the press release from that stated earlier when Everything Dinosaur first published details of the fossil discovery.  The BBC press release suggests that this giant dinosaur roamed around 101 million years ago, whilst our data suggests that it lived slightly later, around 95 million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage of the Cretaceous).

The heart of this huge beast would have weighed something like 200 kilogrammes and with a circumference estimated at two metres it would have pumped ninety litres of blood round the body with one huge beat.  That’s more liquid than the average amount of water that people have a bath in.

“Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur” will broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday 24 January at 6.30pm.  It will be available on the BBC catch up services and we at Everything Dinosaur are eagerly looking forward to watching the programme.

Sir David Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur Thigh Bone

That is a very big thigh bone!

That is a very big thigh bone!

Picture Credit: BBC

Not the End of the Story

A formal scientific paper will be published shortly and this new dinosaur will be given a scientific name, it is likely to be a record breaker and regarded as the largest land living animal known to science.  However, readers of this blog know that Everything Dinosaur takes a keen interest in such matters, check out the link below that hints at the presence of even larger dinosaurs within the fossil record:

 One hundred tonne Titanosaurs?: Giant Fossil Titanosaur Tooth Hints at “Enormosaurus”

2 09, 2015

Dinosaur Britain – Part 2 Reviewed

By | September 2nd, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

A Review of Dinosaur Britain – Part 2

The second part of Maverick TV’s “Dinosaur Britain” aired on terrestrial television last night (ITV1).  Once again, presenter Ellie Harrison was joined by palaeontologist and author Dean Lomax on an exploration of Britain’s dinosaur fauna.  However, unlike the first programme with its emphasis very much on English dinosaurs, the two, intrepid investigators travelled into Scotland and Wales to help reveal some of the ancient animals that roamed these parts of the British Isles.

Plucky Ellie, who had coped with a very claustrophobic slate mine in programme one, was tasked with manning a row boat on Loch Ness.  No Nessie to be seen, but an opportunity to introduce the idea that whilst dinosaurs dominated terrestrial habitats during the Mesozoic, the seas surrounding the land masses that were ultimately to become Britain, once teemed with marine reptiles such as Plesiosaurs.  This had been touched upon in the first part of this two-part documentary series, when the idea of Ichthyosaurs feeding on the carcases of drowned armoured dinosaurs was discussed and it was good to see the storyline brought up to the present when on the beach at Lyme Regis, the presenters were shown Ichthyosaur vertebrae and a small bone, potentially from an Early Jurassic Plesiosaur.

Dinosaur Britain – Fossil Hunting in the UK

A Typical Ammonite - but not all types of this Cephalopod had coiled shells

A typical Jurassic Ammonite from Lyme Regis (Arnioceras – we think)

If the objective of the television programmes was to demonstrate the diversity of British Dinosauria and to encourage people to try fossil hunting for themselves, then appetites were certainly whetted when some of the children’s fossil finds were shown, Ellie Harrison seemed genuinely excited to have found some Belemnite guards.

Back to the dinosaurs and viewers were treated to a view of a Sauropod wandering around Edinburgh, part of a segment that explained the importance of the Isle of Skye in terms of its contribution to our understanding of the dinosaurs of the Jurassic.  Steve Brusatte, (University of Edinburgh) enthusiastically introduced more dinosaur fossils from the British Isles.  Steve is an American and we teased him last night when tweeting about seeing him discussing dinosaurs from this side of the Atlantic, when it is usually the dinosaurs known from the United States that tend to grab all the attention.  Steve took our gentle teasing in good spirit and he reminded us that it is because of British dinos that Steve has such a fantastic job!

On the Isle of Skye, Dean explained to Ellie that the tri-dactyl footprint he had located on the beach was very much a case of “walking with dinosaurs” and this led to a viewing of a tiny dinosaur footprint, less than two centimetres in diameter.  The fossilised print was discovered in Score Bay (Isle of Skye) and is thought to be the smallest dinosaur footprint ever found in Europe.  Slightly bigger prints were revealed on a visit to a beach on the southern side of the Isle of Wight.  These tracks were made by Iguanodonts, we suspect that the ones shown were examples of the natural casts from the foreshore of Hanover Point.  Cue an opportunity to introduce all-round good guy Darren Naish (vertebrate palaeontologist and science writer), who outlined some of the pathology found on the fossilised bones of the huge predator Neovenator and this dinosaur’s potential prey the Ornithopod Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis.   The resulting CGI showed the Neovenator accumulating all its injuries in just a few seconds as it pursued its victim, a little unlikely, but the important message here for the viewer, so eloquently relayed by Darren, is that the fossilised remains of long extinct animals can provide scientists with an insight into potential predator/prey interactions.

Interpreting the Evidence – Dorsal Vertebrae Assigned to M. atherfieldensis

Forensic examination of dinosaur bones can help to tell the story of the lives of long extinct animals.

Forensic examination of dinosaur bones can help to tell the story of the lives of long extinct animals.

Picture Credit: “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

The picture above shows two fossil back bones (dorsal vertebrae) from the Ornithopod Mantellisaurus found in association with the Theropod Neovenator (N. salerii).  The bone on the left shows normal morphology with a tall, rectangular shaped neural spine.  The bone on the right shows a traumatic injury on the neural spine (see inset).   Bone re-growth in the area indicates that this iguanodontid lived for some time after this injury.

These pictures come from the excellent “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” book written by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.  This book provides a comprehensive overview of the dinosaurs of the entire British Isles and is highly recommended.

To learn more about “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” and to purchase: “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

Presenters Ellie Harrison and Dean Lomax

Dean guides Ellie through a dinosaur dominated Britain.

Programme two – features Cetiosaurus, Proceratosaurus, Iguanodontids, Stegosaurs, Neovenator and even little Echinodon is depicted.

Picture Credit: ITV

Just one small point that was noted by a colleague, many of the measurements provided for the dinosaurs were given in feet.  Old timers like the staff at Everything Dinosaur are well used to this, but with this programme aimed at a family audience including children, would very young viewers appreciate the size and scale of these prehistoric beasties when imperial measurements were used in some cases?  Perhaps not, although the CGI showing the armoured Dacentrurus wandering the galleries of the Natural History Museum and the tiny Echinodon attacking a sandwich at least gave viewers an opportunity to gauge size for themselves.

Time to introduce one of the earliest members of the Tyrannosauroidea clade, Proceratosaurus a very distant relative of the famous Tyrannosaurus rex.  Ms Harrison was surprised to learn that this three metre long Theropod once roamed around her home county of Gloucestershire.

To conclude the second programme, the viewer was brought right up to date and introduced to the very latest dinosaur to be added to the compendium of British dinosaurs.  Found in Lower Jurassic rocks at Lavernock Point (Vale of Glamorgan, Wales), Dr. Dave Martill (University of Portsmouth), showed off a remarkable fossil discovery, the partial skeleton of a small, agile meat-eating dinosaur that might turn out to be the oldest dinosaur specimen ever found in Jurassic aged strata.  It was pleasing to see plenty of feathered Theropods throughout the two programmes.

A few days ago, Everything Dinosaur reported on the finding of more fossil bones associated with this specimen: Putting the Welsh Theropod on a Firmer Footing

It seems that there are more dinosaurs awaiting discovery in the rocks of the British Isles.  Thanks to Maverick TV the British public has gained an appreciation of our rich dinosaur heritage.  A quick nod to the schedulers, the earlier start time of 8pm would have been appreciated by mums and dads.  Showing the programme an hour earlier than the first episode would have permitted more children to stay up and watch.

Let’s leave the last word to Dean, who summed up this two-part documentary succinctly:

“Despite Britain playing a pivotal role in the development and understanding of dinosaurs and palaeontology worldwide, in a modern capacity Britain has somewhat been overlooked.  Personally, I feel that Dinosaur Britain is a huge opportunity to put us on the map for dinosaur discoveries, tell the unique story it has and most importantly enthuse people of all ages to learn more about British palaeontology.  Who knows, Dinosaur Britain may just be the very programme that inspires future British palaeontologists.”

Well said.

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