This is a Walking With Dinosaurs program, and like most of that group the animation is excellent, even though the narration tends to present guesswork as fact. Case in point: the red color above the eyes, mentioned as a sign of sexual maturity. To the best of my knowledge (and it was certainly true in 2000, the copyright date) both color and possible significance are pure speculation.

The story follows the life of an Allosaurus, “Big Al,” as reconstructed by forensic analysis of the bones of one of the most complete Allosaurus fossil skeletons ever discovered. I found the second half of the video, which deals with the actual forensic analysis, even more interesting than the fictionalized video of Al himself.

Al was certainly a “live fast and die young” dinosaur. His bones are remarkable not only for being found relatively complete, but for the number of healed injuries they show. How did he get those injuries? The main program gives possible reasons, though of course things may not have happened exactly as shown. But we know he survived broken bones that had time to heal completely and a toe infection that must have lasted for months before his death.

I would like to make two points about dinosaur DVDs in general. First, our knowledge of dinosaurs is changing so fast that is essential to know the dates at which the videos were made! Dates on the cover of DVDs made up from programs originally broadcast on television can vary widely from dates of the original broadcasts. This one’s from 2000; I’ll go back as I find the actual copyright dates on the individual programs and add them to earlier reviews.

Second, for some reason animators feel compelled to have their dinosaurs roaring (or making other sounds) at every opportunity. Now animals do make sounds, and we certainly expect dinosaurs did. But predators, in particular, make sounds at particular times for particular reasons. They may communicate with sounds. They may warn off rivals, or try to intimidate them. They may call to attract mates. They may make sounds to deliberately panic prey. They try very hard not to make a sound when they are trying to stalk prey! Certainly they do not hiss, growl, or roar while setting up an ambush!

All in all, this DVD is worth watching if you want to watch dinosaurs in action, or see what the state of dinosaur science was in the 20th century. Just keep in mind when it was made.

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