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Paleo documentaries (was re: T. rex vision)



>I don't know about anybody else, but I've found the Paleoworld series rather
>disappointing. There are some points where errors crept in, probably in
>digesting the scientists' comment into the script, and often the narration
>didn't synch with the video (i.e. talking about one creature while showing
>another) leading to misconceptions.

The most extreme example of this was in the "dragons of the sea" episode.
While discussing the reasons that a reptile might become secondarily
aquatic (specifically, abundant food sources), they showed a picture of the
Burgess Shale invertebrate Opabina reaching for one of the smaller Burgess
Shale arthropods.  Now, granted, the head of an Elasmosaurus and the
feeding organ of Opabina are somewhat similar, but this was a mistake 450
million years off, about creatures many orders of magnitude difference in
size, from completely different clades in Animalia (okay, the phylogenetic
position of Opabina is far from certain, but it sure isn't a
sauropterygian...).

There had been some precedence for the lack of corresponce between voice
and image (a Late Jurassic Solnhofen pterosaur on screen while the narrator
discussed Late Cretaceous Niobrara pterosaurs; Allosaurus on screen while
the narrator discussed Carnotaurus; etc.), but that mix-up has got to be
the most bizarre.

>Perhaps the most interesting videos on
>fossils and paleontology I have seen were done by David Attenborough (who does
>seem to go to the trouble to try to get things right). I don't remember the
>name, but it was on PBS a few years ago.

The title was something like "Forgotten Worlds, Vanished Lives".  An
appealling aspect of this series was the fact that a good deal of attention
was paid to invertebrates.  Other series of Attenborough to recommend (both
somewhat out-of-date, but still informative and enjoyable) are "Life on
Earth" and "The Living Planet".

                                
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.                                   
tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile                  Phone:      703-648-5280
U.S. Geological Survey                                FAX:      703-648-5420
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092
U.S.A.