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Planet Dinosaur

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Planet Dinosaur
Created byNigel Paterson
Phil Dobree
Written byNigel Paterson
Tom Brass
Directed byNigel Paterson
Creative directorPhil Dobree
Narrated byJohn Hurt
ComposerIlan Eshkeri
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Executive producerAndrew Cohen
ProducerNigel Paterson
EditorAndy Walter
Running time30 minutes
Production companyJellyfish Pictures
Original release
NetworkBBC One
Release14 September 2011 (2011-09-14)

Planet Dinosaur is a six-part documentary television series produced by the BBC, narrated by John Hurt, first aired in the United Kingdom in 2011, produced by VFX studio Jellyfish Pictures. It is the first major dinosaur-related series for BBC One since Walking with Dinosaurs. There are more than 50 different prehistoric species featured, and they and their environments were created entirely as computer-generated images, for only a third of the production cost that was needed a decade earlier for Walking with Dinosaurs.[1][2][3] By the time the third episode aired, the companion book to the series was released accompany it. The DVD will be released after the series finishes.

Spin-off[change | change source]

CBBC aired a spin-off, Planet Dinosaur Files, from 29 September, 2011, hosted by Jem Stansfield.[4] Each episode compares three Mesozoic creatures and involves practical tests to replicate certain behaviours in an attempt to find out which creature holds a certain title, such as the "most powerful" theropod.[5]

Reception[change | change source]

Tom Sutcliffe in the Independent found that it was visually "polished and jazzed up" but that the "knowledge and science generally take second place to B-movie spectacle".[6]

List of episodes[change | change source]

# Title Era Director Writer(s) Original air date UK viewers
1"Lost World"95 MYANigel PatersonNigel Paterson & Tom Brass14 September 2011 (2011-09-14)4.74

95 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (North Africa)


The episode begins in a swamp in what is now North Africa. A herd of Ouranosaurus are surprised by a Spinosaurus, which ignores them. Instead, it hunts Onchopristis (a giant sawfish), which are migrating into freshwater rivers to breed. A Rugops feeds off its leftovers. The episode cuts to a pair of Carcharodontosaurus, fighting to gain hunting rights to a herd of Ouranosaurus. The victor then hunts and kills one of the herbivores. The episode then cuts to the Spinosaurus habitat, where a drought is taking place and the Spinosaurus, scared away from the remaining water by a Sarcosuchus. This is a giant crocodilian which can hibernate during the dry season. The Spinosaurus is forced to hunt on land. After killing and eating a pterosaur, it comes across a group of Ouranosaurus. Catching the scent of a kill, it discovers a Carcharodontosaurus, which has brought down a herbivore. After a fight over the carcass, the Spinosaurus drives off the other theropod, although its sail is seriously injured. The narrator explains that a million years later, rising sea levels destroyed the Spinosaurus habitat, causing it to go extinct.


2"Feathered Dragons"154 / 85 / 120 MYANigel PatersonNigel Paterson21 September 2011 (2011-09-21)TBA

154 million years ago, Upper Jurassic – (China, Asia)
85 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (Mongolia, Asia)
120 million years ago, Lower Cretaceous – (China, Asia)


The episode begins in a forest late in the Jurassic of what is now China. An Epidexipteryx escapes from a juvenile Sinraptor by climbing a tree. It finds a beetle grub in the tree bark, being shown to use its elongated fingers in a similar way to a modern day Aye-aye. However, its prey is stolen by another, larger Epidexipteryx, and after a brief bout of posturing, the smaller individual goes to find more food. It drops a second grub to the forest floor, where the other Epidexipteryx retrieves it, only to be killed by the juvenile Sinraptor. The episode then cuts to a desert in late Cretaceous Mongolia, where a Saurornithoides is shown brooding a nest of eggs. When it leaves the nest, an Oviraptor raids it, fleeing when the troodontid returns. The Saurornithoides is suddenly attacked and eaten by a Gigantoraptor, which then heads to compete in a breeding ritual for mates. The males use their feathers for display, a brief fight between two erupting at one point, allowing the females to choose the best suitor. The episode finally cuts to an early Cretaceous forest in China, where a Xianglong is being hunted by a Microraptor, which uses its feathers to pursue the gliding lizard in the air.[8] A Sinornithosaurus attacks it, and after a brief chase the Microraptor manages a lucky escape. The Sinornithosaurus is then shown hunting a Jeholosaurus and its three young, along with two other members of its species. The group brings down the parent, the narrator explaining that their possibly venomous bite allowed them to tackle animals much larger than themselves. A montage is then shown of the feathered dinosaurs featured in the programme, with the narrator saying that Microraptor not only hints at how flight might have developed, but also that dinosaurs still live amongst us today, as birds.


3"Last Killers"75 / 70 MYANigel PatersonNigel Paterson28 September 2011 (2011-09-28)3.97

75 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (North America)
70 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (Madagascar)


The episode begins late in the Cretaceous of Canada, in what is now Dinosaur Provincial Park. A Daspletosaurus stalks a Chasmosaurus in a forest, but loses the element of surprise and is forced to retreat. The Chasmosaurus comes across a younger Daspletosaurus, before being ambushed by Tyrannosaurs. The episode then cuts to the high arctic, where Edmontosaurus are hunted by a large subspecies of Troodon. The theropods attack at night, separating a juvenile from the heard and severley wounding it, only to be driven away by an adult. In the morning, they return to eat the carcass of the juvenile, which died during the night. The episode returns to the Daspletosaurus, who chase and bring down the Chasmosaurus. The larger adults bully the youngsters off the carcass, forcing them to wait until they have finished. The episode then cuts to Madagascar, where a mother Majungasaurus (an Abelisaurid) and her two young chase a group of Rahonavis off a carcass. However, they are temporarily driven off themselves by a male Majungasaurus. But, after he steals some food from one of the babies, the female attacks and kills him, before she and her offspring cannibalise his body. The episode returns once again to North America, where the Daspletosaurus are waiting for the annual migration of Centrosaurus. They attack during a rainstorm, killing some of the ceratopsians. The Centrosaurus make it to a flooded river and begin to swim across, and although many make it to the other side, some are eaten by giant crocodilians or are severley wounded by obstacles and thus drown, or drown for unseen reasons. In the morning, the carcasses attract scavengers, including the Daspletosaurus. A montage is then shown of Daspletosaurus and Majungasaurus, the narrator saying that together, the tyrannosaurids and abelisaurids were the last of the killer dinosaurs.


4"Fight for Life"147 / 150 MYANigel PatersonNigel Paterson & Tom Brass5 October 2011 (2011-10-05)TBA

147 million years ago, Upper Jurassic – (Europe)
150 million years ago, Upper Jurassic – (North America)


The episode begins in the seas around Europe in the later Jurassic. Kimmerosaurus hunt Squatina. They are ambushed by Predator X, but manage to escape to water too shallow for the enormous pliosaur. The episode then cuts to North America, where Stegosaurus and Camptosaurus coexist in a mutually beneficial relationship. The two fossils are almost always found together in the Morrison Formation, and the script suggests they work together to defend against large predators. The Camptosaurus serve as lookouts, while the Stegosaurus provide protection. An Allosaurus attacks the group, and after the Camptosaurus flee, attacks the Stegosaurus, but in the end is severley wounded by a Stegosaurus thagomizer (the four spikes on its tail). However, the Allosaurus survives and recovers from the injury. The episode returns to the Jurassic seas, where the tide has risen, allowing Predator X to attack the Kimmerosaurus, but it is unable to use its full power in the shallow water, allowing the agile plesiosaurs to escape. However, they must eventually return to deeper water to feed. The episode returns to North America, where another Allosaurus is hunting a pair of Camptosaurus, who are away from the protection of Stegosaurs. The theropod manages to bring down one of the Camptosaurus, only to be chased off its kill by a Saurophaganax. The episode returns again to the seas around Europe, where a Kimmerosaurus is feeding near the surface in deeper water. It is attacked from below by Pliosaurus, which finally manages to kill the plesiosaur, leaving half of it to sink to the seafloor. The episode ends with the narrator stating that creatures like Predator X ruled the oceans for 100 million years.


5"New Giants"100 / 95 MYANigel PatersonNigel Paterson12 October 2011 (2011-10-12)TBA

100 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (South America)
95 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (North Africa)


The episode begins in Upper Cretaceous South America at a nest site. An Argentinosaurus hatches, and is almost immediately attacked by a Pterosaur. The pterosaur is scared away by a Skorpiovenator, which proceeds to kill and eat the hatchling. However, it itself flees when a herd of adult Argentinosaurus arrive, although they offer no protection for the hatchlings, which begin to feed on the surrounding vegetation. The episode then cuts to Upper Cretaceous North Africa, where a herd of Paralititan take a drink from a river to cool down. They are spooked when a group of crocodiles emerges from the water, and a juvenile becomes stuck in mud. The crocodiles are scared away by a Sarcosuchus, which closes in on the trapped Paralititan. The episode returns to South America, where the herd of Argentinosaurus move across a volcanic ash field to find food. Due to their sheer size, they churn up the ground with each step, creating quicksand that becomes a death trap for the small Hypsilophodonts travelling with them. The Titanosaurus find a clump of trees and begin feeding, but are attacked by a group of Mapusaurus. The theropods manage to rip a chunk of meat off one of the sauropods, but due to its size it is not fatally wounded. During the attack, one of the Mapusaurus is crushed by an agitated Argentinosaurus. Back in north Africa, the Sarcosuchus gets a hold of one of the Paralititan's legs, but a Carcharodontosaurus grips its neck, and eventually wrestles it from the giant crocodilian's jaws. However, it is chased away by the adult Paralititan, and the juvenile survives. The episode finally cuts back to South America, where the injured Argentinosaurus lies dying. A time lapse is then shown of Mapusaurus, Skorpiovenator and Chaoyangopterid pterosaurs feeding on the carcass until the bones are all that is left. The narrator explains that when Argentinosaurus went extinct, so did Mapusaurus. The same event happened with Paralititan and Carcharodontosaurus in Africa. The Argentinosaurus skeleton is then shown biodegrading until only the bones found when it was first discovered are left to be fossilised.


6"The Great Survivors"65 / 92 / 85 MYANigel PatersonNigel Paterson & Tom Brass19 October 2011 (2011-10-19)TBA

65 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (Hațeg Island, Romania)
92 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (Zuni Basin, USA)
85 million years ago, Upper Cretaceous – (Mongolia, Asia)


The episode begins towards the end of the Cretaceous period, on Hațeg Island. A herd of Magyarosaurus feed on vegetation, while a Bradycneme hunts lizards amongst them. A group of Hatzegopteryx descend from the sky, and hunt and eat young Magyarosaurus. The episode then cuts to Montana, 92 million years ago. A Zunityrannus attacks a pair of Nothronychus, but is driven off. The Therizinosaurs feed on the surrounding vegetation, but are then attacked by a group of Zunityrannus, but again manage to fight them off. The tyrannosaurs are forced to scavenge on a nearby carcass of their own species. However, they catch botulism from the rotting flesh, and die. The episode then cuts to Mongolia, 7 million years later. A Gigantoraptor and her mate guard their nest from marauding predators, driving off an Alectrosaurus. The female leaves the male with the nest, presumably to find food. After a rainstorm, the male is attacked by a pair of Alectrosaurus, and while they fight, an Oviraptor raids the nest. The Gigantoraptor manages to drive off the tyrannosaurs, and chases away its smaller relative without losing any eggs. However, he is later buried during a sandstorm, still guarding his nest. The episode then cuts to 65 million years ago, when an enormous asteroid crashes into the gulf of Mexico, causing devastation upon impact and filling the atmosphere with debris. 4 months later on Hațeg Island, most vegetation has died due to the lack of sunlight, starving the Margyarosaurus. Scavengers do well for the time being, with a group of Hatzegopteryx driving a Bradycneme off a carcass.[9] The smaller dinosaur is forced to hunt lizards, while the narrator explains that 60% of species went extinct, with the dinosaur's size being what ultimately condemned them to extinction. A claim is made that "On land no animal weighing more than 25 kg survived". A montage is then shown of various creatures featured throughout the previous 5 episodes, with the narrator saying that dinosaurs are the most successful group of animals ever to exist on earth,[10] and that it was a large extraterrestrial event that finally ended Planet Dinosaur.


References[change | change source]

  1. "Planet Dinosaur". BBC One. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  2. "Planet Dinosaur". Jellyfish Pictures. Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
  3. "Planet Dinosaur". CGSociety. Archived from the original on 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  4. Planet Dinosaur Files Archived 2011-10-01 at the Wayback Machine. BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  5. BBC iPlayer: Planet Dinosaur Files "Most Powerful". BBC. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  6. Sutcliffe, Tom (15 September 2011). "Last Night's TV: Planet Dinosaur/BBC1
    Live Rugby World Cup/ITV1"
    . The Independent. Archived from the original on 22 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  7. "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. 14 September 2011. Archived from the original on 9 August 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  8. Whether Microraptor could actually do this is not certain.
  9. Fossil footprints suggested it could hunt on the ground.
  10. There is no basis in science for such a claim.

Other websites[change | change source]