Cover, Perfect PredatorsThis is another Discovery channel DVD with a range of production dates. Although the DVD is dated 2011, the three programs contained are from 1997 through 2009.

The first, Dinosaurs: Perfect Predators, came out originally in 2009, so it is not too dated. However, it is totally unclear from the DVD that the three predators featured did not all live at the same time. T-Rex lived at the end of the Cretaceous, around 67 to 65.5 million years ago. Quetzalcoatius arrived a little earlier, though both were caught by the K-T extinction event 65.5 million years ago. Deinochychus, however, lived from 115-108 million ears ago in the early Cretaceous.

It is also worth pointing out that though Deinochychus (terrible claw) was 3 meters long, its back was less than a meter high, its weight was about that of a man, and it quite possibly had feathers. That does not mean it was other than a terrifying predator, especially in a pack.

The second program, Monsters Resurrected: The Great American Predator, deals heavily with trace fossils: a dinosaur trackway in Texas which has been interpreted as a two-legged predatory dinosaur, an Acocanthosaurus, taking down a large sauropod, a Paluxysaurus. Again, these are early Cretaceous dinosaurs, and would not have been alive at the same time as T-Rex. This program also dates to 2009. Both of the 2009 programs are a mix of paleontology and computer animation, but the science strikes me as superficial. (The footprint casting is of some interest.)

The third program, Beyond T-Rex, is quite old by dinosaur program standards and is focused mainly on paleontology. The “theme,” whether or not the discoveries of two large predators in the southern hemisphere “dethrone” T-Rex, struck me as rather silly. Yet in spite of its age (1997) this is probably the best of the three programs as far as paleontology is concerned.

The two dinosaurs discussed are Carcharodontosaurus (sharp-toothed lizard, apparently native to Africa)) and Giganonosaurus (giant southern lizard, Patagonia.) The two are very similar, and are much more closely related to Allosaurus and each other than they are to Tyrannosaurus. In fact, they are so similar that their distribution has been used to argue that there was still a land bridge between South America and Africa in the early Cretaceous, when these giants were alive. No mention is made of feathers, which is hardly surprising given the date of the programs, well before the feathered dinosaurs of Mongolia were discovered.

The history of Carcharodontosaurus is intriguing. The first specimens were found by German paleontologists before WWII, but were lost to allied bombing. More fossils were discovered in Morocco in 1995, and this material is the subject of the program. The casting of the skull is of considerable interest, as is the part of the DVD dealing with the rediscovery.

The discovery of Giganonosaurus in Patgonia is covered as well. Here a better idea of the live animal can be obtained from the BBC DVD, Chased by Dinosaurs, as one of the episodes involves a pack hut of Argentinosaurus by Giganonosaurus.

As a discussion of dinosaurs as predators the DVD is rather incomplete, especially the first two episodes. It may be worth getting if you want a complete collection of dinosaur videos.

Advertisements