Planet Dinosaur, is a six-part documentary television series created by Nigel Paterson and Phil Dobree, produced by the BBC, and narrated by John Hurt. It first aired in the United Kingdom in 2011, with VFX studio Jellyfish Pictures as its producer. 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 around a third of the production cost that was needed a decade earlier for Walking with Dinosaurs. Much of the series' plot is based on scientific discoveries made since Walking with Dinosaurs. The companion book to Planet Dinosaur was released on 8 September 2011, and the DVD and Blu-ray were released on 24 October 2011.
The title card of Planet Dinosaur
|Created by||Nigel Paterson|
|Written by||Nigel Paterson|
|Directed by||Nigel Paterson|
|Creative director(s)||Phil Dobree|
|Narrated by||John Hurt|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Executive producer(s)||Andrew Cohen|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Jellyfish Pictures|
|Original network||BBC One, BBC One HD, BBC HD|
|Original release||14 September –|
19 October 2011
List of episodes
|No.||Title||Era||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Lost World"||95 mya||Nigel Paterson||Nigel Paterson & Tom Brass||14 September 2011||4.74|
In a swamp in North Africa a herd of Ouranosaurus are spooked by a Spinosaurus, which ignores them. Instead, it hunts Onchopristis (a giant sawfish), which are migrating into freshwater rivers to breed. A Rugops hovering nearby scavenges its leftovers. The episode cuts to a pair of young male Carcharodontosaurus, which are fighting to gain rights to hunt a herd of Ouranosaurus. The victor then hunts and kills one of the herbivores. The episode then cuts to the habitat of Spinosaurus, where a drought is taking place and the Spinosaurus, scared away from the remaining water by a Sarcosuchus, which unlike the dinosaur can hibernate during droughts, is forced to hunt on land. After killing and eating an Alanqa, it comes across a group of Ouranosaurus. Catching the scent of a kill, it discovers a Carcharodontosaurus, which has brought down one of the iguanodonts. After a fight over the carcass, the Spinosaurus drives off the other theropod, although it is left with bite marks in its sail. It then journeys into the desert, taking a rest as the injuries weaken it. The narrator then explains that a million years later, rising sea levels destroyed the Spinosaurus's habitat, ultimately dooming the species; the last scene shows the Spinosaurus lying lifeless in the desert.
|2||"Feathered Dragons"||154 / 85 / 120 mya||Nigel Paterson||Nigel Paterson||21 September 2011||6.368|
In a late Jurassic forest in what is now China, an Epidexipteryx escapes from a juvenile Sinraptor by climbing a tree. It finds a beetle larva in the tree bark. This shows the species as being one that uses its elongated fingers in a similar way that a modern day aye-aye uses its fingers. However, another, larger Epidexipteryx steals its prey, 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 for the juvenile Sinraptor to kill it. 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, eating one egg before fleeing with another when the troodontid returns. A Gigantoraptor suddenly attacks and eats the Saurornithoides. The Gigantoraptor 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. A Sinornithosaurus attacks it, and after a brief chase the Microraptor manages a lucky escape. The Sinornithosaurus, alongside two other members of its species, is then shown hunting a Jeholosaurus and its three young. 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 mya||Nigel Paterson||Nigel Paterson||28 September 2011||3.97|
In late Cretaceous Canada, in what will be known as 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 a group of the tyrannosaurids ambush it. The episode then cuts to the high Arctic, where a large species of Troodon hunts Edmontosaurus. The theropods attack at night, separating a juvenile from the herd and severely wounding it, only for an adult to drive them away. 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 offspring chase a group of Rahonavis off a carcass. However, a male Majungasaurus temporarily drives them off. But, after he steals some food from one of the young, the female attacks and kills him, before she and her young 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 drown due to being caught by giant crocodilians or severely wounded by floating debris. The rest of the Centrosaurus 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"||150 mya||Nigel Paterson||Nigel Paterson & Tom Brass||5 October 2011||25|
In the seas of late Jurassic Europe Kimmerosaurus hunt Squatina. Pliosaurus funkei ambush them, but they 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 Camptosaurus serve as lookouts, while Stegosaurus provide protection. An Allosaurus attacks the group, and after the Camptosaurus flee, attacks the Stegosaurus, but in the end a Stegosaurus' thagomizer spiked tail severely wounds it. However, the Allosaurus survives and recovers from the injury. The episode returns to the Jurassic seas, where the tide has risen, allowing Pliosaurus 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 Stegosaurus. The theropod manages to bring down one of the Camptosaurus, only for a Saurophaganax to chase it off its kill. 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 Pliosaurus ruled the oceans for 100 million years.
|5||"New Giants"||95 mya||Nigel Paterson||Nigel Paterson||12 October 2011||53|
In late Cretaceous South America at a nest site an Argentinosaurus hatches. A Lacusovagus almost immediately attacks it. A Skorpiovenator scares away the Lacusovagus and then proceeds to kill and eat the Argentinosaurus hatchling. However, the Skorpiovenator 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 late 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. A Sarcosuchus scares away the crocodiles and 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. Because of their sheer size, they churn up the ground with each step, creating quicksand that becomes a death trap for the small Gasparinisaura, travelling with them. The titanosaurs find a clump of trees and begin feeding, but a group of Mapusaurus attacks them. The theropods manage to rip a chunk of meat off one of the sauropods, but the latter are not fatally wounded because of their size. During the attack, an agitated Argentinosaurus crushes one of the Mapusaurus. Back in North Africa, the Sarcosuchus gets a hold of one of the Paralititans' legs, but a Carcharodontosaurus grips its neck and eventually wrestles it from the giant crocodilian's jaws. However, the adult Paralititan chases it away, and the juvenile survives. The episode finally cuts back to South America, where an injured Argentinosaurus lies dying. A time lapse is then shown of Mapusaurus, Skorpiovenator, and Lacusovagus feeding on the carcass until the bones are all that's left. The narrator then explains that when Argentinosaurus became extinct, so did Mapusaurus. The same event happened with Paralititan and Carcharodontosaurus in Africa. The episode concludes with the Argentinosaurus body being shown decaying until only its bones are left to be fossilised, as the narrator explains that when the sauropods died out, their predators lost their main food supply, and they too were doomed.
|6||"The Great Survivors"||65 / 92 / 85 mya||Nigel Paterson||Nigel Paterson & Tom Brass||19 October 2011||TBA|
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 North America, 92 million years ago. A Suskityrannus (formerly known as Zunityrannus) attacks a pair of Nothronychus, but is driven off. The therizinosaurs feed on the surrounding vegetation, but then a group of Suskityrannus attack them. However, the Nothronychus again manage to fight off the Suskityrannus. The tyrannosaurs are forced to scavenge on a nearby carcass of their own species. However, they catch botulism from the rotting flesh and later 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, a pair of Alectrosaurus attack the male, 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. Four months later on Hațeg Island, most vegetation has died because of the lack of sunlight, starving the Magyarosaurus. Scavengers do well for the time being, with a group of Hatzegopteryx driving a Bradycneme off a carcass. The smaller dinosaur is forced to hunt lizards, while the narrator explains that 60 percent of species became extinct, with the dinosaur's size being what ultimately condemned them to extinction. A montage is then shown of various creatures featured throughout the preceding episodes, with the narrator saying that dinosaurs are the most successful group of animals ever to exist on earth, and that it was an unprecedented extraterrestrial event that finally ended Planet Dinosaur.
CBBC aired a spin-off, Planet Dinosaur Files, from 29 September 2011, hosted by Jem Stansfield. 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. A 60-minute 3-D spin-off of Planet Dinosaur was announced in July 2011, and was broadcast on 19 August 2012 under the name Ultimate Killers.
Tom Sutcliffe of The Independent found Planet Dinosaur to be visually "polished and jazzed up" but that the "knowledge and science generally take second place to B-movie spectacle". Brian Switek from the Smithsonian Science blog "Dinosaur Tracking" commented, "What sets Planet Dinosaur apart, and what I enjoyed most, is the fact that a modicum of science is woven into each episode to back up the different vignettes being presented." He also added "...[while] Planet Dinosaur is not that perfect dinosaur documentary that we have all been hoping for, it is still far better than just about anything that I have seen lately."
Gordon Sullivan, from DVD Verdict concluded in a positive way, "Planet Dinosaur is a fine series that gives viewers a good sense of where our knowledge about dinosaurs is at the moment. Combining nature-documentary stylings with a competent narration from smooth-voiced John Hurt, Planet Dinosaur is sure to please budding paleontologists and older dinosaur fans alike."
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- "Planet Dinosaur". Jellyfish Pictures. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Planet Dinosaur". CGSociety. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- Planet Dinosaur (DVD) and Planet Dinosaur (Hardback). BBC Shop. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
- "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- "Planet Dinosaur Ep. 1". YouTube. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- Planet Dinosaur Files. BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- BBC iPlayer: Planet Dinosaur Files: "Most Powerful". BBC. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- Farber, Alex; Neilan, Catherine (7 July 2011). "BBC kicks off 3D push with Planet Dinosaur spin-off". Broadcast. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- "BBC – BBC Internet Blog: Planet Dinosaurs Ultimate Killers in 3D".
- Sutcliffe, Tom (15 September 2011). "Last Night's TV: Planet Dinosaur". The Independent. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Return to Planet Dinosaur". Smithsonian. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
- "Planet Dinosaur". DVD Verdict. 10 September 2012. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2019.