Dinosaurs weren’t the only prehistoric critters to go extinct. Prehistoric Park introduces quite a wide range of extinct animals, from Carboniferous giant insects to mammoths and sabertooth cats. In some ways it is very similar to Chased by Dinosaurs, which I reviewed last week. Again, Nigel Marvin is the explorer. But this DVD has a wider range of prehistoric animals, and a more connected (if even more inane) plot.

The premise of Prehistoric Park is that a park has been set up to provide a haven for animals that have become extinct. I can swallow the time travel (or at least suspend disbelief.) But bring them back to the safety of the present? Haven’t the writers heard that we are in the midst of the biggest extinction event since the end of the Cretaceous?

For that matter, the “rescued” animals–especially the mammoth–really don’t behave as one would expect them to. A mammoth following its rescuer tamely through the time portal? And a Titanosaur towing a jeep for a reward of pebbles? Come on!

Another assumption that makes no sense in the context of time travel is that only the most endangered animals should be rescued. This makes good sense in the real world, where the most endangered animals have to be saved or go extinct. The only way it could make sense given time travel were if the time travelers could change the past. In that case, they should bring back only those animals with no descendants–e.g., the dinosaurs that would have been killed by the meteor. This is never suggested. The logic appears to have been taken over from present day conservation with no examination of why it is true now. Given time travel, it would make a lot more sense to go back to a time when the species was thriving.

That said, the DVD gives a nice range of times and animals, and the people and familiar machines really put their sizes into perspective. The times and animals include the end of the Cretaceous (Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Ornithomimus) the end of the Ice Age (mammoth, Elasmotherium) China 125 million years ago (Microraptor, Titanosaur), South America 100,000 years ago (sabertooth cat, terror bird) Carboniferous swamps (giant dragonfly, Arthropleura, giant scorpion) and 75 million years ago (Deinosuchus and a stowaway Troodon.)

This is a BBC/Discovery DVD, and the quality of the reconstructions is excellent. The episode with the Microraptors should ideally be watched in conjunction with NOVA’s The Four Winged Dinosaur, which really studies how this dinosaur might have used its feathered limbs. And I have to say that in spite of my grumbling, this is a DVD I have watched over and over.