History Main / PrehistoricMonster

15th Aug '17 4:36:00 PM CHLORINEGARGOYLE
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A subtrope of WhatMeasureIsANonCute

A prehistoric/extinct animal which is portrayed as more powerful, dangerous and/or deadly (if not also dumber) than any still-living equivalent to the point where they cease being an animal and becomes a marauding monster.

Sometimes, if you are a prehistoric/extinct animal you'll be automatically qualified to be a PrehistoricMonster. Even though you're small and would appear cute and harmless to modern humans. Even though you are closely related to modern animals that are commonly regarded as beautiful and majestic. Even though all extinct species ''were'' well adapted to their environment in the period they were around, otherwise they would have never appeared in our planet. Even though the only real difference between prehistoric and modern animals is that the former didn't have the fortune (or misfortune) to know [[HumansAreBastards modern humans]], and if they were still alive today they will probably be considered "charismatic megafauna" and hailed by conservationists as modern animals are.

This trope has been with us since the very first paleontological discoveries at the start of 1800: a lot of old paleo-art portrayed prehistoric worlds filled with nothing but monstrous creatures that fight each other, followed soon by popular writers and then film-makers that consolidated the trope (see DinosaursAreDragons for more about this). The fact we don't exactly know how extinct animals behaved (and ''even looked'' precisely) has contributed to make them appearing mysterious, and we humans have the silly habit to qualify ''every'' unknown creature as a horrible "monster" (see Loch Ness and Yeti examples).

Interesting to note that certain modern animals have (or had) such a reputation in media as well: giant squids, anacondas, great white sharks, bats, tarantulas, scorpions, and so on. As well as gorillas, whales, and other giant mammals, but these examples are now usually discredited, because [[MostWritersAreHuman Most Writers Are Mammals]]. However, even these [[TheWoobie misunderstood]] animals ''have'' the concrete possibility to be portrayed in a more positive manner because they are still-living, and thus they may get a consideration among animal rights and/or environmental groups in RealLife; an impossible thing for creatures which are ''already extinct''. Thus, nobody (except perhaps some paleontologists and paleo-fans) normally complains when hearing things such as Stegosaurus, Woolly Mammoths, Pteranodons and Trilobites qualified as "scary monsters" in {{Prehistoria}} -related stories (and with their appearance modified to make them look scary) -- even less chances when coping with TyrannosaurusRex and the other big meat-eating dinos of course.


Even though in Fictionland all this could be justified by RuleOfScary, the major problem is another: even popular-science works such as documentaries or non-narrative books often do play straight this trope. Many modern paleo-artists tend to do this in a subtle way, depicting their dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mammals, fish, invertebrates and whatnot as nasty as allowed by scientific accuracy: the fact that the skin texture/color and, above all, the [[EyesNeverLie appearance of the eyes]] are almost always unknown, all this allows imagination to travel freely, of course. Just for example, compare [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Compsognathus_BW.jpg this Compsognathus]] with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Compsognathus_longipes_head.jpg this one]], and guess which plays it straight and which averts it. When a watcher see such depictions, he usually has nothing to say against the DarkerAndEdgier varieties since they still remain ''anatomically accurate'' (useless to say that RuleOfCool plays a strong role).
Some people might see this trope a bit more excusable than WhatMeasureIsANonCute however. This because modern animals are often [[HumansAreBastards persecuted by humans]] in RealLife, and their portrayal in fiction may affect negatively their public image and thus all the efforts to protect them; while extinct animals may get considered expendable by writers since they don't live alongside us in our modern world, so the same aforementioned moral issues cannot be applied to them.

Of course there are also popular works which tend to avert this trope, especially in the last decades, in part thanks to the influence from popular documentaries like ''Walking With'': no doubt however the traditional "prehistoric = monstrous" thing is not a DeadHorseTrope even today. It's worth noting at this point that PrehistoricMonster may be considered a subtrope of ArtisticLicensePaleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way ([[ScienceMarchesOn at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created]]), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of RuleOfCool.

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A subtrope of WhatMeasureIsANonCute

WhatMeasureIsANonCute.

A prehistoric/extinct animal which is portrayed as more powerful, dangerous and/or deadly (if not also dumber) [[DumbDinos dumber]]) than any still-living equivalent to the point where they cease being an animal and becomes a marauding monster.

Sometimes, if you are a prehistoric/extinct animal you'll be automatically qualified to be a PrehistoricMonster. Even though you're small
monster - larger and would appear cute and harmless to faster than any extant apex predator, with no equal in the modern humans. Even though you are closely related world! Filled to modern animals that are commonly regarded as beautiful the brim with claws and majestic. Even though all extinct species ''were'' well adapted jaws! Able to smash apart man-made vehicles to get at the tasty, tasty humans inside, a feat no lion or tiger or bear can do!

Often accompanied with [[RuleOfCool exaggerated features]] or [[SuperPersistentPredator hyper-aggressive behavior]].

There ''is'' some TruthInTelevision - to fulfill
their environment in the period they were around, otherwise they status as apex predator, a predator would have never appeared in our planet. Even though the only real difference between prehistoric and modern animals is that the former didn't have the fortune (or misfortune) to know [[HumansAreBastards modern humans]], and if they were still alive today they will probably be considered "charismatic megafauna" and hailed by conservationists big - or at least badass enough to take down things bigger than itself, often armored or just as modern animals are.

This trope has been with us since the very first paleontological discoveries at the start of 1800: a lot of old paleo-art portrayed prehistoric worlds filled with nothing but monstrous
vicious. Most modern-day creatures that fight each other, followed soon by popular writers are nowhere as large as, say, a brachiosaurus, or as armored as a triceratops - and then film-makers that consolidated the trope (see DinosaursAreDragons without such niches, there's no reason for more about this). The fact we don't exactly know how extinct modern-day animals behaved (and ''even looked'' precisely) has contributed to make them appearing mysterious, and we humans have the silly habit to qualify ''every'' unknown creature as a horrible "monster" (see Loch Ness and Yeti examples).

Interesting to note that certain modern animals have (or had) such a reputation in media as well: giant squids, anacondas, great white sharks, bats, tarantulas, scorpions, and so on. As well as gorillas, whales, and other giant mammals, but these examples are now usually discredited, because [[MostWritersAreHuman Most Writers Are Mammals]]. However, even these [[TheWoobie misunderstood]] animals ''have'' the concrete possibility
to be portrayed in a more positive manner because they are still-living, and thus they may get a consideration among animal rights and/or environmental groups in RealLife; an impossible thing for creatures which are ''already extinct''. Thus, nobody (except perhaps some paleontologists and paleo-fans) normally complains when hearing things such just as Stegosaurus, Woolly Mammoths, Pteranodons and Trilobites qualified as "scary monsters" in {{Prehistoria}} -related stories (and with their appearance modified to make them look scary) -- even less chances when coping with TyrannosaurusRex and the other big meat-eating dinos of course.


Even though in Fictionland all this could be justified by RuleOfScary, the major problem is another: even popular-science works such as documentaries
enormous or non-narrative books often do play straight this trope. Many modern paleo-artists tend to do this in a subtle way, depicting their dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mammals, fish, invertebrates and whatnot as nasty as allowed by scientific accuracy: the fact that the skin texture/color and, above all, the [[EyesNeverLie appearance of the eyes]] are almost always unknown, all this allows imagination to travel freely, of course. Just for example, compare [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Compsognathus_BW.jpg this Compsognathus]] with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Compsognathus_longipes_head.jpg this one]], and guess which plays it straight and which averts it. When a watcher see such depictions, he usually has nothing to say against the DarkerAndEdgier varieties since they still remain ''anatomically accurate'' (useless to say that RuleOfCool plays a strong role).
Some people might see this trope a bit more excusable than WhatMeasureIsANonCute however. This because modern animals are often [[HumansAreBastards persecuted by humans]] in RealLife, and their portrayal in fiction may affect negatively their public image and thus all the efforts to protect them; while extinct animals may get considered expendable by writers since they don't live alongside us in our modern world, so the same aforementioned moral issues cannot be applied to them.

Of course there are also popular works which tend to avert this trope, especially in the last decades, in part thanks to the influence from popular documentaries like ''Walking With'': no doubt however the traditional "prehistoric = monstrous" thing is not a DeadHorseTrope even today. It's worth noting at this point that PrehistoricMonster may be considered a subtrope of ArtisticLicensePaleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way ([[ScienceMarchesOn at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created]]), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of RuleOfCool.
clawed.
11th Aug '17 7:51:13 AM CosmicFerret
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* Also subverted in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Days of Future Future" where dinosaurs and pterosaurs are tame and perform in a JurassicPark-type zoo. ''T. rex'' was even shown having a teddy bear to sleep with.

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* Also subverted in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Days of Future Future" where dinosaurs and pterosaurs are tame and perform in a JurassicPark-type Franchise/JurassicPark-type zoo. ''T. rex'' was even shown having a teddy bear to sleep with.
16th Jun '17 2:44:57 PM Lymantria
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** Carisu Hime, the female main character in CambrianQTs, is an anthropomorphic Anomalocaris.

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** Carisu Hime, the female main character in CambrianQTs, ''[[VideoGame/CambrianQTs Cambrian QTs]]'', is an anthropomorphic Anomalocaris.
15th May '17 12:38:59 PM chasemaddigan
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* The documentary series ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With...]]''' played straight the trope in two cases (''Walking With [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Monsters]]'' and ''Sea [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Monsters]]''), but averted it in most part of the series: the original ''Walking With Dinosaurs'', ''Walking With Beasts'', ''Ballad of Big Al'', but above all ''Prehistoric Park''. In this spinoff prehistoric animals are described as "something which is missing in our world, amazing animals that time has left behind" and worth to be brought to life; moreover, they show up later in the park ''alongside their living relatives'' (Martha the mammoth with African elephants, dinosaurs with birds and crocodiles, sabre-toothed cat with cheetahs and so on). Here the discrimination between extinct and non-extinct animal is totally absent (a ''very'' rare example in media). The trope is even ''inverted'' in one case: keeper Bob being affectionate with the giant millipede relative ''Arthropleura'' and saying "this is not like spiders and other small modern creepy-crawlies, this is a proper animal".

to:

* The documentary series ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs ''[[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With...]]''' played straight the trope in two cases (''Walking With (''[[Series/WalkingWithMonsters Walking With]] [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Monsters]]'' and ''Sea [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Monsters]]''), but averted it in most part of the series: the original ''Walking With Dinosaurs'', ''Walking With Beasts'', ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'', ''Ballad of Big Al'', but above all ''Prehistoric Park''. In this spinoff prehistoric animals are described as "something which is missing in our world, amazing animals that time has left behind" and worth to be brought to life; moreover, they show up later in the park ''alongside their living relatives'' (Martha the mammoth with African elephants, dinosaurs with birds and crocodiles, sabre-toothed cat with cheetahs and so on). Here the discrimination between extinct and non-extinct animal is totally absent (a ''very'' rare example in media). The trope is even ''inverted'' in one case: keeper Bob being affectionate with the giant millipede relative ''Arthropleura'' and saying "this is not like spiders and other small modern creepy-crawlies, this is a proper animal".



* The Italian documentary ''Series/PlanetOfDinosaurs'' (1993) averts this trope completely: dinosaurs here are ''never'' called monsters, and are instead genuine animals with social attitudes and colorful design (anticipating ''WalkingWithDinosaurs'' six years before). At the end of the last episode (which tells about their extinction), they are described as "extraordinary animals that deserve to be remembered in their best moments, when they filled the Earth with their strength and their vitality".

to:

* The Italian documentary ''Series/PlanetOfDinosaurs'' (1993) averts this trope completely: dinosaurs here are ''never'' called monsters, and are instead genuine animals with social attitudes and colorful design (anticipating ''WalkingWithDinosaurs'' ''Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs'' six years before). At the end of the last episode (which tells about their extinction), they are described as "extraordinary animals that deserve to be remembered in their best moments, when they filled the Earth with their strength and their vitality".
25th Apr '17 1:48:05 PM Lymantria
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* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/CadillacsAndDinosaurs'', where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures are treated as normal animals.

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* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/CadillacsAndDinosaurs'', ''[[ComicBook/XenozoicTales Cadillacs and Dinosaurs]]'', where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures are treated as normal animals.
19th Mar '17 3:44:20 AM Morgenthaler
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* Averted by many earlier {{LEGO}} themes, such as the Duplo line that had cavemen and dinosaurs living together peacefully, or the dinosaur-related subline of [[LEGOAdventurers ''Adventurers'']], which was about saving the animals from falling into the villains' hands. It is, however, played straight in [[LEGODinoAttack ''Dino 2010'']] and especially in its American counterpart, [[LEGODinoAttack ''Dino Attack'']], which centered around destroying the evil beasts using the most over-the-top weaponry.

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* Averted by many earlier {{LEGO}} Toys/{{LEGO}} themes, such as the Duplo line that had cavemen and dinosaurs living together peacefully, or the dinosaur-related subline of [[LEGOAdventurers [[Toys/LEGOAdventurers ''Adventurers'']], which was about saving the animals from falling into the villains' hands. It is, however, played straight in [[LEGODinoAttack [[Toys/LEGODinoAttack ''Dino 2010'']] and especially in its American counterpart, [[LEGODinoAttack [[Toys/LEGODinoAttack ''Dino Attack'']], which centered around destroying the evil beasts using the most over-the-top weaponry.
5th Mar '17 10:04:40 AM nombretomado
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* The Savage Land in MarvelComics is loaded with StockDinosaurs that are these half the time.

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* The Savage Land in MarvelComics Creator/MarvelComics is loaded with StockDinosaurs that are these half the time.
1st Feb '17 12:14:05 AM PaulA
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* ''Literature/TheLostWorld1912'' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has its various prehistoric animals almost entirely united in their desire to eat the heroes. There's also a war between a society of human hunter-gatherers and a group of dryopithecoid "ape-men", and the MightyWhitey heroes side entirely with their fellow humans (the 2001 miniseries adaptation makes this conflict considerably less one-sided). It's important to mention that, to contemporary Britons like Sir Arthur, prehistoric life wasn't just monstrous; it was ''inferior'', since dinosaurs went extinct and we didn't.

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* ''Literature/TheLostWorld1912'' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has its various prehistoric animals almost entirely united in their desire to eat the heroes. There's also a war between a society of human hunter-gatherers and a group of dryopithecoid "ape-men", and the MightyWhitey heroes side entirely with their fellow humans (the 2001 miniseries adaptation makes this conflict considerably less one-sided).humans. It's important to mention that, to contemporary Britons like Sir Arthur, prehistoric life wasn't just monstrous; it was ''inferior'', since dinosaurs went extinct and we didn't.



* ZThe 2001 miniseries of ''Literature/TheLostWorld'' deconstructs a lot of the imperialistic thinking of its source material, showing the dinosaurs, and the much-maligned ape-men, to be well-adapted, often beautiful, and sometimes fairly intelligent creatures. That said, the ape-men are [[UncannyValley utterly hideous under that makeup]]. Notably, a major subplot (and one completely absent from the book), has Prof. Challenger (Bob Hoskins) preventing the natives of the plateau from exterminating the ape-men, but in doing so -- and [[MightyWhitey imposing his own values on them]] -- he inadvertently [[spoiler: brings disaster to the village when the vengeful ape-men summon a pair of ''Allosaurs'']], and the series ends with him and the other explorers deciding to [[spoiler: keep the plateau a secret]] in order to protect its inhabitants, while the book seems fairly cheerful about the possibility that they'll all go extinct, because they're monsters and that's what they deserve. This trope also shows up in-universe with Prof. Summerlee, who, representing the kind of paleontology [[ScienceMarchesOn contemporary to the 1911 setting]], refers to an ''Allosaurus'' in one scene as a "creature from Hell", and indeed, we see little of the ''Allosaurs'' beyond their hunger. On the other hand, there's a charming scene of one of the heroes befriending a ''Hypsilophodon''.

to:

* ZThe The 2001 miniseries of ''Literature/TheLostWorld'' ''Series/{{The Lost World|2001}}'' deconstructs a lot of the imperialistic thinking of its source material, showing the dinosaurs, and the much-maligned ape-men, to be well-adapted, often beautiful, and sometimes fairly intelligent creatures. That said, the ape-men are [[UncannyValley utterly hideous under that makeup]]. Notably, a major subplot (and one completely absent from the book), has Prof. Challenger (Bob Hoskins) preventing the natives of the plateau from exterminating the ape-men, but in doing so -- and [[MightyWhitey imposing his own values on them]] -- he inadvertently [[spoiler: brings [[spoiler:brings disaster to the village when the vengeful ape-men summon a pair of ''Allosaurs'']], and the series ends with him and the other explorers deciding to [[spoiler: keep [[spoiler:keep the plateau a secret]] in order to protect its inhabitants, while the book seems fairly cheerful about the possibility that they'll all go extinct, because they're monsters and that's what they deserve. This trope also shows up in-universe with Prof. Summerlee, who, representing the kind of paleontology [[ScienceMarchesOn contemporary to the 1911 setting]], refers to an ''Allosaurus'' in one scene as a "creature from Hell", and indeed, we see little of the ''Allosaurs'' beyond their hunger. On the other hand, there's a charming scene of one of the heroes befriending a ''Hypsilophodon''.
27th Dec '16 1:02:47 AM Smeagol17
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Of course there are also popular works which tend to avert this trope, especially in the last decades, in part thanks to the influence from popular documentaries like ''Walking With'': no doubt however the traditional "prehistoric = monstrous" thing not a DeadHorseTrope even today. It's worth noting at this point that PrehistoricMonster may be considered a subtrope of ArtisticLicensePaleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way ([[ScienceMarchesOn at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created]]), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of RuleOfCool.

to:

Of course there are also popular works which tend to avert this trope, especially in the last decades, in part thanks to the influence from popular documentaries like ''Walking With'': no doubt however the traditional "prehistoric = monstrous" thing is not a DeadHorseTrope even today. It's worth noting at this point that PrehistoricMonster may be considered a subtrope of ArtisticLicensePaleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way ([[ScienceMarchesOn at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created]]), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of RuleOfCool.
27th Dec '16 1:02:24 AM Smeagol17
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Of course there are also popular works which tend to avert this trope, especially in the last decades, in part thanks to the influence from popular documentaries like ''Walking With'': no doubt however the traditional "prehistoric = monstrous" thing is all but a DeadHorseTrope even today. It's worth noting at this point that PrehistoricMonster may be considered a subtrope of ArtisticLicensePaleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way ([[ScienceMarchesOn at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created]]), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of RuleOfCool.

to:

Of course there are also popular works which tend to avert this trope, especially in the last decades, in part thanks to the influence from popular documentaries like ''Walking With'': no doubt however the traditional "prehistoric = monstrous" thing is all but not a DeadHorseTrope even today. It's worth noting at this point that PrehistoricMonster may be considered a subtrope of ArtisticLicensePaleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way ([[ScienceMarchesOn at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created]]), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of RuleOfCool.
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