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RE: Dinosaur Revolution Review

  I'm guess I'm glad that I more or less knew what to expect. I read Ricardo 
Delgado's 'Age of the Reptiles' when I was a kid. So, when I read the show 
description and saw that his name was attached to the project, I pretty much 
expected it to be an animated version of his comic book series. Now I didn't 
think that would be a bad thing because I loved those comics as kid. I knew 
this wasn't going to be another 'Walking with Dinosaurs' copy cat and I 
basically expected it to be somewhat like a cartoon, minus the talking... and 
I'm fine with that. It helps that BBC has a 'WWD' clone coming out tomorrow 
night; I think variety is a good thing. 

  Regarding episode 1: 

  All right, I grew a little worried when I saw the animation, then I reminded 
myself that this is a made for tv show, not a $65 million dollar Hollywood 
production like Jurassic Park. So, I just ignored the low points and focused on 
(what I thought) was great model work. I've always like David's Krentz's 
dinosaur sculptures, and have been often tempted to buy some of them, so I'm 
quite glad he worked on this series. That being said, there are some minor 
things that bugged me: for some reason, it seems as though many paleo artists 
like to make the pterygoideus way too small and stiff; it also seems as if many 
artists are afraid to go the Greg Paul route and put dino fluff on all small 
theropods and ornithopods. 
    Regarding the pterygoideus: I watched a video of a croc dissection and one 
of the things that was immediately apparent was just how damn big that muscle 
really is. It's easy to miss on an intact animal, as the muscle looks like part 
of the neck when relaxed, but it's there. many artists seem to miss this detail 
and instead draw/sculpt/paint the jaw as if it is just skin and bone. The 
reality is this muscle should not only flex visibly, but should also jiggle 
with movement and deform when the head rests against the ground. Surprisingly, 
despite its myriad of anatomical flaws, the Jurassic Park T. rex actually has 
it, and I think the bulge it creates makes for a more powerful looking jawline. 
David has already addressed this, so I'm not going to write several pages just 
to complain about it. 

  The lack of protofeathers with both Ornitholestes and Eoraptor kind of bugged 
me, but there is no proof (as far as I know) that either genera had them. I am 
inclined to think that it is more likely that a simple, bristly body covering 
combined with a mix of scales and scutes was common among basal ornithodirans. 
And I have a hunch that most if not all non armored small dinosaurs were at 
least partially fuzzy. I think it's probable that some lineages lost this fuzz 
later on in favor of armor or greater body mass. This may be why we've found 
titanosaur embryos and a small ceratopsian with scales, while more cursorial 
forms such as Tianyulong and small basal theropods were 'protofeathered'.

  The anthropomorphism was a bit much in the first episode, but I was able to 
ignore it for the most part. There were a few other behavioral issues that just 
didn't make sense to me as well: mosasaurs are basically giant aquatic monitor 
lizards; monitor lizards often eat their own young... so why was the mamma 
mosasaur protecting her baby? Varanids and snakes are also mute, so I'm not 
sure I liked hearing dolphin sounds coming from a aquatic lizard species. I 
don't understand why the Saurosuchus threw one of the Eoraptors aside after 
chomping down on it lightly enough to not break its skin. Was it just irritated 
with the mushy dino love scene? I would have been okay with the mosquitoes if 
they just drove the dinosaurs a little nuts, but showing them kill an 
amphibian/reptile was pretty silly. Showing the male Cryolophosaurus destroying 
the offspring of a rival seemed plausible, as it's a behavior that can be seen 
in crocodilians, dolphins, house cats, lions, bears etc. so no problem there.
I have to say I enjoyed the 2nd episode quite a bit more than the first. The 
animation was better and its much longer narrative and more interesting 
characters helped. I'm looking forward to the T.rex episode, though I don't 
know if I'll get to see it since I don't have Discovery Science... 

 "It's not that these soft parts or behaviors are impossible, but Joe Public's 
only going to remember Gigantoraptor as "that goofy rainbow-colored thing that 
dances" or Eoraptor as "those raptors that cutely chirp and build mounds to 
select mates, and then care for their baby who adorably falls down, awwww".  So 
you're emphasizing the fictional aspects of these animals, while not going into 
any of the actual known interesting facts about them."
    I don't think "Joe Public" is *that* ignorant. I'm willing to bet that most 
older children and adults are aware that it's just a show and that it's mostly 
guesswork. The point of a show like this is not to be a lecture on dinosaur 
anatomy, it's supposed to be a semi fictional depiction of dinosaur life. I 
think all us dinosaur enthusiasts have conjured up similar images in our minds 
eye at one point or another as we try to guess at what these creatures were 
like when they were alive. Sadly, outside of our mind's eye, CGI is all we're 
going to get unless someone invents a time machine in the near future. I 
suppose someone could do a hyper accurate dinosaur show of this nature, and use 
only what we *know*. Think about it, the audience would get to see some awesome 
anatomical images and maybe, if we have a mostly complete specimen, they could 
be shown a black and white, silent, cg models spinning on a turn table... for 
an hour. It would be pure awesome! I would watch it of course... just not sure 
how much money it would make the Discovery Channel ; ). 

Sim Koning




> Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2011 04:23:00 -0700
> From: mickey_mortimer111@msn.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Dinosaur Revolution Review
> I decided to review the show on my blog.  Read more at 
> http://theropoddatabase.blogspot.com/2011/09/dinosaur-revolution-review.html 
> if you enjoy scathing criticism and snarky comments.
> Mickey Mortimer