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new BBC program(me)



Greetings all. Here is another FYI about the goings on professionally for me.
 
The BBC is doing another set of programs (programme for you in England) on 
dinosaurs. They were here earlier in the month filming about ankylosaurs 
(yeah!). Unfortunately, we filmed (again) at the core library at the US 
Geological Survey. I was supposed to be looking for a box among the thousands 
there on row-after-row of shelving (think: the end of Indiana Jones). Said box 
had a scute of an ankylosaur and I discussed its function. They also filmed a 
tail and tail club that they had provided me (Thanks BBC!). These items were 
provided so that Frank Sanders and I could figure out the amount of force the 
club could generate (2 ½-5 tons/sq inch). This was a natural continuation of 
our work on Stegosaurus tail spike force. The results of that were presented as 
a poster at SVP 2002, and the write-up in the theropod volume now at Indiana 
University Press (due out early next year).
 
I was flown to London last Sunday (thanks BBC!) to continue filming, using a 
moveable aluminum tail that they had reconstructed. The tail whacked a turkey, 
which was a stunt-double for a Velociraptor (I hope the footage doesn't end up 
on the cutting room floor). The turkey went flying; it did not explode as I had 
hoped (maybe we should have used primer cord like Hollywood does?). A side of 
pig (stand in for a larger theropod) was also whacked and that was impressive. 
The ribs were fractured and the broken ends pushed into the chest cavity. They 
would certainly have resulted in a punctured lung. Moral of the story: 
ankylosaur tail clubs are dangerous! 
 
The filming in England involved two versions of everything: one for BBC in 
England (with an English host) and another for the Discovery Channel (US). 
Regrettably, the Discovery version is greatly dumbed down at the demand of the 
Discovery Channel executives. I could not say "we dissected an alligator tail" 
but "we cut-up and alligator tail." Anyone notice how bad the Discovery Channel 
has become? Anyone who has seen the English (BBC) and US (Discovery)versions of 
Walking with Dinosaurs will know what I mean.  Write to the Discovery Channel 
and complain; we are not stupid and we have an attention span greater than 5 
minutes
 
There had been other filming there involving reconstructed Triceratops and T 
rex skulls (no, they were not interacting), as well as a Velociraptor foot. But 
since those are not my stories, I won't elaborate (consider it a tease).
 
Naturally, once the new shows air (next year), there will be the usual 
arm-chair paleontologist criticisms. But the shows are trying to separate what 
we know from what is speculation, and does try to "test" hypotheses with 
working models (hence the reconstruction). So try to view them as "half-full" 
rather than "half-empty", know what I mean?
 
Ken
 
 
Kenneth Carpenter, Ph.D.
Curator of Lower Vertebrate Paleontology &
Chief Preparator
Dept. of Earth Sciences
Denver Museum of Natural History 
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205
 
Phone: (303)370-6392
Fax: (303)331-6492
email: KCarpenter@DMNS.org
 
For fun: http://dino.lm.com/artists/display.php?name=Kcarpenter