Sunday, May 29, 2022

Inside looks at the science of 'Prehistoric Planet'

For today's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm returning to "Prehistoric Planet" with more promotional videos, beginning with Prehistoric Planet — An Inside Look: Expect The Unexpected from Apple TV.

Go behind-the-scenes of Prehistoric Planet with executive producers Jon Favreau and Michael Gunton for a closer look at how they brought this wondrous world to life...

Experience the wonders of our world like never before in this epic docuseries from Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. Travel back 66 million years to when majestic dinosaurs and extraordinary creatures roamed the lands, seas, and skies.
Jon Favreau and Michael Gunton confirmed what I wrote last week.
I was a big fan of "Walking with Dinosaurs," a sequel to which I mentioned in Infidel 753 and I talk fossils and this show looks like it will be a worthy successor to it. It's been 23 years since that aired and both the science and technology have advanced since then, so the depictions of the dinosaurs and other Mesozoic organisms will reflect both. Besides, I think every generation deserves its own dinosaurs, both real and fictional.
By the way, all of these scenes are from the latest Cretaceous, indicating that this show is looking at different biomes on the Earth at the same time, unlike "Walking with Dinosaurs," which proceeded through the entire Mesozoic to show how the planet and is organisms changed over time. This makes it more like Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II, which examine different environments on the modern Earth. That's an interesting conceit and one I'm looking forward to watching.
Follow over the jump for videos that show how the series depicts the paleontological discoveries since "Walking with Dinosaurs" and supports those depictions with science.

The first clip in the "Prehistoric Planet — Uncovered" web series that Apple TV uploaded asked Could T.rex Really Swim?

They’re huge, powerful…and full of surprises. Discover a unexpected side to the T.rex in Prehistoric Planet, now streaming on Apple TV+...

Experience the world of dinosaurs like never before in this epic five-night event, from Executive Producer Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. Featuring David Attenborough, Prehistoric Planet streams on Apple TV+ May 23rd.
That's a convincing argument based on the bones that T. rex could swim and might actually have. I also expected that the show would use elephants as an example of large terrestrial animals swimming based on my research on Pygmy Mammoths; I showed a slide of swimming elephants 36 years ago to explain how the animals reached the northern Channel Islands.

The experts appealed to sexual selection to explain pterosaur crests in Flamboyant Flyers.

Why would a flying reptile have a large and cumbersome, yet remarkable, head crest? Learn this and more about Pterosaurs in Prehistoric Planet, streaming now on Apple TV+...
I was wondering if the crest of the pterosaur in the preview image was real. It is and so is Barbaridactylus, a pterosaur I hadn't heard of before this show.

On the other hand, I already knew the answer to Did Velociraptor Have Feathers?

“It would’ve looked a lot more like a really terrifying turkey.” Millions of years later, dinosaurs are still full of surprises.
The answer is yes, it did. This video reinforces the point I made after watching the clip of Mononykus last week.
One of the points I make to my students is that birds are dinosaurs and it's difficult to tell the nearest non-bird dinosaur relatives and birds apart. This reconstruction of Mononykus demonstrates both parts of this point.
So does this depiction of Velociraptor. I also like describing it as "a really terrifying turkey," especially since I see wild turkeys in my neighborhood. The local flock even traipsed through my backyard last month.

Speaking of Velociraptor, "Jurassic Park" thought the answer to the next question was yes nearly 30 years ago for the animals the movie called by that name, but were more like Deinonychus, Did Dinosaurs Hunt in Packs?

“There is scientific evidence for deadly dinosaurs joining forces.” See new discoveries about these ancient creatures in Prehistoric Planet, now streaming on Apple TV+...
Not only did the raptors and their kin hunt in packs, so did the tyrannosaurs. That's something I didn't know, but it makes them even more terrifying.

The show and I return to sexual selection when it asked if Carnotaurus was Armed for Seduction?

A tiny pair of limbs with a big role to play.

I think this interpretation is more speculative than for the spectacular pterosaur crests in the third video, but I can't come up with a better explanation, so I'll accept it — for now. If someone comes up with a better hypothesis based on the evidence, I'll consider it and possibly accept that. Such is the way science works.

Stay tuned for an observance of Memorial Day.

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