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RE: Animal Planet - Giants



> From: James R. Cunningham [mailto:jrccea@bellsouth.net]
>
> Some months ago, the producers of some of the Animal Planet programming
> contacted me and asked me to do some comparative drag polars for eagles,
> hang gliders, and Quetzalcoatlus for them, and to provide some other
> Quetz information and comparisons for an upcoming episode with Jeff
> Corwin on Giant animals.  There wasn't much similarity between Quetz and
> the other two, but that wasn't quite what they wanted to hear.  It
> didn't take long to realize the segment was going to be on the far side
> of ridiculous.

[snip the rest]

I can state much the same for the T. rex section, for which I was a
consultant.  When they told me that their modern analog was going to be a
collared lizard I was not amused.  When I heard their logic ("Well, collared
lizards run on two legs and chase food smaller than themselves, just like T.
rex") I was less amused.

I offered them much better modern analogues: cape hunting dogs, secretary
birds, spotted hyenas, even roadrunners (given that, as it turns out, they
were just going to film in Arizona and Florida), but no dice.

I haven't seen the final produce (I taped it but have not watched it), and
hope that at least some of my fact checking removed some of the more
egregious errors in earlier drafts of the T. rex section ("What, you mean T.
rex WASN'T the biggest dinosaur of all?" :-S).

I'd like to point out, though, that all these contacts were with staff
people.  I never talked with Corwin himself.  It is my understanding (and it
certain comes through on the shows) that he has a great respect for
conservation scientists, field biologists, and other zoology-types.  Perhaps
if he got to know us in the paleo field, things might have turned out
better.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796