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RE: If you had a time machine...
I would definitely go visit the early Cretaceous ecosystems of the Jehol
Biota of China. The fossils preserve a remarkable biodiversity, and the
preservation of integumentary structures and gut contents for so many
animals would enable you to present a detailed portrait of the life
appearances and habits of the creatures that is actually based on fossil
Not to mention that so many of the theropods are very small and feathery,
and lived alongside a great diversity of early birds. With the exception of
"When Dinosaurs Roamed America," "Dinosaur Planet," and "Nova: The
Four-Winged Dinosaur," dinosaur documentaries have completely dropped the
ball in terms of accurately presenting the wrist articulations, the small
sizes and the feathery coverings characteristic of the theropods most
closely related to living birds. These features (and many more, as well as
aspects of behavior) make the theropodan origin of birds pretty obvious to
anyone who has been keeping up with not-so-current events, but the general
public is still saddled with antiquated ideas about these animals.
If the origin of birds and bird flight is discussed -- and I would certainly
hope that it would be! -- I would like to see the BAND group completely left
out of the program, as their many positions have already gotten way more
play than they deserve, and there just isn't any sound basis for their
arguments (unless _Anchiornis_ has caused them at last to fall in line with
the current consensus). On the other hand, I would very much like to see
Gregory S. Paul's hypothesis that many theropods were in fact secondarily
flightless -- as detailed in his book, _Dinosaurs of the Air_ -- given a
You could also show the succession of ecosystems across millions of years,
as several distinct layers are present.
That's my 2cents worth.
Dino Guy Ralph
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology