This series tells the extraordinary story of life before the dinosaurs, a time when strange and savage creatures forth a ruthless battle to rule the Earth. [...] This is Life's forgotten story, an epic war for our world. A war between MONSTERS.A subtrope of What Measure Is a Non-Cute? 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 Prehistoric Monster. 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 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 Dinosaurs Are Dragons 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 Most Writers Are Mammals. However, even these 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 Real Life; 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 Tyrannosaurus rex and the other big meat-eating dinos of course. Even though in Fictionland all this could be justified by Rule of Scary, 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 appearance of the eyes are almost always unknown, all this allows imagination to travel freely, of course. Just for example, compare this Compsognathus◊ with 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 Darker and Edgier varieties since they still remain anatomically accurate (useless to say that Rule of Cool plays a strong role). Some people might see this trope a bit more excusable than What Measure Is a Non-Cute? however. This because modern animals are often persecuted by humans in Real Life, 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 Dead Horse Trope even today. It's worth noting at this point that Prehistoric Monster may be considered a subtrope of Artistic License – Paleontology only when anatomical inaccuracies are present as well. If extinct critters are portrayed in an unpleasant but still scientifically acceptable way (at least in respect to the knowledge of the time the work was created), it may be qualified more as a subtrope of Rule of Cool. See also Dinosaurs Are Dragons, Dumb Dinos, Reptiles Are Abhorrent, Everything Is Trying to Kill You, Our Monsters Are Different, and Historical Villain Upgrade. If you want to see some Real Life infos about extinct critters, see here. For a popular way of averting this, see Domesticated Dinosaurs.
— Extracted from Walking With Monsters trailer
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- Nissin Cup Noodle advertisements feature many oversized ancient animals that either want to eat humans, or feel the urge to be utter jerks to them.
Anime And Manga
- The first enemies of Getter Robo are Cyborg Dinosaurs From the center of the Earth as its robeasts.
- The Big Bad of a Mazinger Z spin-off used armies of dinosaurs. Also, the Dragonosaurus -an Eldritch Abomination from a Crossover movie featuring Great Mazinger Getter Robo G and UFO Robo Grendizer- was told being a previously-thought-extinct prehistoric monster.
- Set in a vague prehistoric setting the Wild Rock world is full of them.
- Anomalocaris has gained a certain degree of popularity in Japan; often depicted as a huge monster with four grasping appendages, such as in Bubblegum Crisis and Kamen Rider Double, or highly stylized, like Anorith in Pokémon and Scorpiomon/Anomalocarimon in Digimon.
- Carisu Hime, the female main character in Cambrian Q Ts, is an anthropomorphic Anomalocaris.
- Cage of Eden is full of these (though non-avian dinosaurs are absent, surprisingly).
- The comic series The War that Time Forgot featured prehistoric monsters capable of battling humans with World War II level armaments — and WINNING.
- The Savage Land in Marvel Comics is loaded with Stock Dinosaurs that are these half the time.
- The documentary series Walking With...' played straight the trope in two cases (Walking With Monsters and Sea 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".
- It's worth noting the accompanying book "A Natural History" has a Darker and Edgier tone when talking about the same arguments portrayed in the TV show.
- Another spinoff, Chased By Dinosaurs - together with the above-mentioned Sea Monsters - are also noteworthy aversions of the trope, since their execution is no different from any other wildlife documentary: host Nigel Marven (an actual wildlife TV presenter) goes shark-cage diving with a Megalodon, tracks a Therizinosaurus cross-country, and watches (from a safe distance) a pack of Giganotosaurus hunt (and they seem more interested in hunting their usual prey than snacking on the tiny human). That said, there was a definite sense of wonder to Nigel's reactions, and he did use the word "monster" a couple times.
- Moreover, many WWD imitations portray prehistoric critters (not only dinosaurs) as nothing but ever-fighting brutes, often with altered look to make them scarier: Jurassic Fight Club and Animal Armageddon are two main examples.
- The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs: Paleontology never tells actual "truths", it is more like an educated guesswork... maybe we will never be certain about how T. rex and raptors hunted their prey.
- When Dinosaurs Roamed America and Dinosaur Planet tend to represent dinosaurs in a more realistic way than the aforementioned shows, and thus seem more related to the original documentation purpose which led WWD producers initially (even though certain scenes from WDRA look more violent than those from the BBC docu, while DP dinos seem a bit too humanized in their actions and feelings).
- Monsters Resurrected plays this painfully straight — it's even in the title! The most notorious example may be the Spinosaurus, compared to which even Jurassic Park III's depiction of the animal could be considered realistic.
- Dinosaur Revolution subverts this trope: The animals act more like cartoon characters rather than savage monsters, and Noisy Nature is averted. That said, this trope is played straight with the Saurosuchus and Torvosaurus. Noisy Nature is also played straight (and arguably parodied) with the Torvosaurus, who just loves to show off his Mighty Roar
- Walter Cronkite's documentary "Dinosaur!" (1990) plays it straight several times during the four episodes (especially the first one), and some puppetry scenes involving predatory dinosaurs hunting their prey may be Nightmare Fuel for some people. However, it averts it in the last two episodes, where dinos are described in a more positive way, as intelligent, caring creatures.
- The Hunt for Chinese Dinosaurs does a Lampshade Hanging on the trope: dinosaurs are called dragons from the start to the end, but the narrator does specify at one point that this is a blending of the cultural tradition of both Western and Eastern world.
- The Italian documentary Planet Of Dinosaurs (1993) averts this trope completely: dinosaurs here are never called monsters, and are instead genuine animals with social attitudes and colorful design (anticipating Walking with Dinosaurs 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".
- Interestingly, this series has also an accompanying book with a slighty Darker and Edgier style, just like the aforementioned "A Natural History".
Films — Animated
- 1988's The Land Before Time may be count as one of the first aversions in Movieland. Here the main characters are thinking dinosaurs trying to reach the Great Valley with the Power of Friendship; however the villain Sharptooth is one of the most ferocious T. rexes ever heard, although tyrannosaurs, interestingly, become humanized and, in the case of the character Chomper, even friendly in the Lighter and Softer sequels. Also note the Fantastic Racism that permeates some adult herbivorous dinosaurs (most notably Cera's father and sometimes his daughter herself).
- 2000's Disney Dinosaur averted this trope (like the similar The Land Before Time) with the herbivorous dinosaurs, having several humanized characters, many of them are gentle and likable, such as Aladar and Neera, but also Eema, Baylene, and Url. Even the villain, Kron (an Iguanadon), was a villain for actual, character-based reasons, and not simply because he was evil. Played straight, on the other hand, with Carnotaurs and raptors, which never spoke and mostly just wanted to eat everybody else. Furthermore, one can note a crucial difference in portrayal between the social, humanitarian lemurs and the self-centered "Social Darwinism" that permeate all the dinosaur of Kron's herd (even the old and the young ones, which should actually be the victims of this mentality). Please note that the lemurs are modern Sifaka lemurs and not prehistoric primates at all.
- The Ice Age movies (the first of them comes from 2002) avert this as far as mammals and birds from the Cenozoic era are concerned. Dinosaurs and other mesozoic reptiles, however, get this treatment whenever they appear, be it frozen over and thawed, as in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, or located in a Lost World, like in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (with the exception of, ironically, T. rex and raptors).
Films — Live-Action
- The first live action dinosaur film, Brute Force (1914) started the tradition with a battle between a caveman and a Ceratosaurus.
- 1925's The Lost World features the earliest Kaiju attack — a Brontosaurus that goes on the rampage in downtown London with little provocation. At least it doesn't try to eat anyone.
- In King Kong, Skull Island is full of nothing but Prehistoric Monsters. Both the original (1933) and Peter Jackson's version (2005).
- 1948's Special Effects Failure laden Unknown Island sports a Flesh-Eating Giant Ground Sloth and its Ceratosaurs are relentless predators.
- Recent studies suggest some ground sloths may have eaten carrion as well as plants (but they certainly weren't active predators).
- The Rhedosaurs from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and the Paleosaurus of The Giant Behemoth (1959) are the iconic images of what people think of when they think "Prehistoric Monster" (aside from Godzilla, see below).
- Godzilla and many other Kaiju are real or fictional Dinosaurs — and not all of them are mutated by radiation to be 150+ft long.
- Godzilla later subverts this in his later film appearances. He's shown as being rather intelligent (Generally about as smart as an ape) and as being a loving and protective father.
- 1960's Dinosaurus has a T. rex which acts like a rampaging monster. The T. rex then fights a Crane. Really!
- 1966's One Million Years B.C. (the image above comes from it) plays this trope as straight as possible. Here dinosaurs and other animals all seem to do nothing else but fight each other and menace cavemen (which are portrayed as the classic, prehistoric brutish savages; this trope may be applied to prehistoric and modern humans as well other than to beasts).
- 1968's The Lost Continent has most of its monsters think humans are tasty.
- 1977's The Last Dinosaur has a Great White Hunter battle a Prehistoric Monster type T. rex.
- 1977's The Crater Lake Monster features a semi-aquatic plesiosaur that eats cattle and humans.
- 1978's Most of the large animals in Planet of the Dinosaurs are extremely dangerous. The T. rex in this film acts like Jason Voorhees with a busted Calender. To him, every day is Friday the 13th.
- 1993's Jurassic Park film and its two 1997/2001's sequels seems to zigzagging this trope a lot. For example, in the first movie Alan Grant tells to a young boy that Velociraptors are scary killers, but much later he responds to Lex that carnivores behave only by nature. Furthermore, dinosaurs in this film are described as both terrible and attractive, with predators that correspond more to the former image and the herbivores to the latter (with the sick Triceratops being the best example). Interesting to note that the only one time in which a character calls the dinosaurs as "monsters" (Lex with the brachiosaurs), Alan says "They're not monsters, Lex. They're animals".
- However, in the two continuations the cloned animals appear more frightening altogether, and more like Everything Trying to Kill You: see the difference between the Triceratops's attitude in the first Jurassic Park and The Lost World. The scariest example, however, may be the tiny Compsognathuses acting as two-legged piranhas, tearing chunks of flesh from a human and devouring him alive. While in Real Life the "compies" will be not more dangerous than house cats.
- Alan himself later refers to the dinosaurs as "genetically engineered theme park monsters" in Jurassic Park III. It appears to be justified however, since the paleontologist seems referring to the dissonance between real dinos and JP creations rather than the nature of prehistoric animals.
- The Triceratops behavioral contrast between the first and second films mentioned above was probably just due to the fact that the Triceratops in the first film was very sick and tired (the vet tending it even mentions that it had been tranquilized), and thus probably just didn't have the energy to defend itself from the humans poking and prodding it. Had it been a more healthy animal, chances are it would be just as nasty as its counterpart in the second film. To be fair, though, the trike in the second film had more than likely been chased, tranquilized, and forced into a cage for at least several hours before going on the rampage.
- Lady Margaret, the alpha-female Triceratops (and according to some fans, the very same sick trike noted above) pretty much drives the above point home in Jurassic Park: The Game. All three of them, in fact, if you don't turn off the car horn or get out of the way in time.
- The Indominus rex of Jurassic World was deliberately engineered to be one. According to Word of God, they wanted to avert this trope with the dinosaurs not named "Indominus rex". Indeed, even the raptors are depicted as being trainable (but not tame yet), while most of the other animals are only attacking because they're scared (Ankylosaurus), hungry (Mosasaurus), angry (Tyrannosaurus rex), or all three (Pteranodon).
- The Carnosaur series played this trope horrifically straight.
- 2003's Ice Crawlers features killer trilobites.
- Super Mario Bros. The Movie portrays the population of humanoid-evolved dinosaurs in the parallel world as rough, dumb, murderous and just plain rude. Some of them are good guys, but overall, it's a much darker and less-pleasant world.
- The Jungle Book (2016): King Louie received an Adaptation Species Change from an orangutan to the much larger, India-native Gigantopithicus, as well as being more malicious, menacing and serious than his Disney Animated counterpart.
- "Journey to the Center of the Earth" written by Jules Verne may be the Trope Maker in literature, with the iconic battle between two monstrous (and rather improbable) marine reptiles called "Ichthyosaur" and "Plesiosaur".
- Changed to a group of Dimetroons in the 1959 movie, wherein it was more of a brief obstacle in that they had to buy enough time to get their raft into the water without getting attacked. Also justified by the fact that they were in a position that made them appear to be an easy source of food. The later 2008 version just used a Tyrannosaurus and played it straight.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs's "Pellucidar" series similarly depicted most prehistoric animals as dangerous monsters. On David Innes's advent to the eponymous world At the Earth's Core, he is attacked — by a giant sloth.
- In his The Land That Time Forgot series, Burroughs does the same thing — his Tyrannosaurus is an armor-plated dragon which eats its victims with its three-fingered hands.
- 1990 Crichton's Jurassic Park has a similar approach to Spielberg's movies (see above) but with a Darker and Edgier tone (as one may get soon after reading the summary).
- In Robert E. Howard's "Shadows In Iron", Conan the Barbarian identifies the hide of a golden leopard and an enormous snake — both of which had been extinct for years in his time — as ways to deduce that something is very, very, very wrong.
- Raptor Red averts it completely. Not surprisingly, since it was written by a paleontologist. And not an ordinary one: the guy who started the "Dinosaur Renaissance".
- Averted by the Dinotopia series, in which all the dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures are Intellectual Animals that for the most part exist peacefully alongside humans. The exceptions are the large uncivilized theropods of the Rainy Basin and even they get portrayed as Noble Savages that can be bargained with. Contrast the miniseries.
- One notable aversion occurs in the novel Chomper, where a boy raises a young Giganotosaurus in the city and teaches it the basic customs, all while other Dinotopia citizens repeatedly treat it with prejudice; fortunately, it still remembers these years later while living as an adult in the Rainy Basin.
- Mostly averted in Dinoverse, though it depends on the book. In the first/first two books (the first was split into two) an Elasmosaurus and one Tyrannosaur are pretty randomly monstrous, but with the rex it's actually discussed and sort of justified, with a character believing that he's drawn to keep following and disturbing them. Triceratops pose a threat and are seen as overreacting in the protection of their young, but everything is fairly intelligent. In the second set of books various predators are looked at as noble, even one who'd attacked and bitten a protagonist earlier. Of course, the series is extremely prone to Amplified Animal Aptitude.
- The 1997 Leigh Clark novel Carnivore features a T. rex that hatches from an preserved egg recovered in, of all places, Antarctica, reaches full size in a matter of days due to exposure to radioactive waste, and turns an entire research outpost into its personal buffet table.
- Carnosaur by Harry Adam Knight is basically an adventure/horror novel with dinosaurs horrifically ripping people up after escaping from the estate of the evil aristocrat who cloned them.
- The Lost World (1912) 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 Mighty Whitey heroes side entirely with their fellow 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.
Live Action TV
- In "Madison Mascot", an episode of Our Miss Brooks, a torn note has Walter Denton, Stretch Snodgrass, Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton mistakenly believe that the new name for the Madison High football team will be the "Madison Mammoths".
Walter Denton: What do you think of the new setup Mrs. Davis? The Madison Mammoths! That's what the team will be called of course.
Miss Brooks: The Madison Mammoths?
Walter Denton: Sure. Because of the elephant mascot. You remember those prehistoric hairy old elephants, don't you Miss Brooks?
Miss Brooks: Not personally.
- Zig-zagged in Primeval. Every extinct animal has some dangerous aspect to it — even dodo birds house deadly parasites. However, while plenty of the creatures are portrayed as terrifying predators (the anurognathid swarm, Deinonychus, mosasaur and phorusrhacids, for instance), others are only dangerous because they're large/powerful and panicked (the Embolotherium herd, Dracorex and Columbian Mammoth), still others are outright harmless (Scutosaurus) and some are so harmless they're adopted as Team Pets (Rex the Coelurosauravus, as well as the Diictodons, which are even mentioned in-series as Ugly Cute). Heck, even the Spinosaurus, in spite of being a huge predator, doesn't seem to be trying to eat anyone; it's just dangerous because it's a large, panicked animal in a populated area.
- This comes up in an episode in series 4. Philip Burton wants the creatures in the ARC's menagerie destroyed because he feels they're a security risk. Lester argues that if the public were to find out Philip had ordered the destruction of (admittedly dangerous) prehistoric creatures, it would look very bad for his image. Philip finally backs down.
- Lost Tapes features several surviving prehistoric animals that all think humans are VERY tasty...
- The 2001 miniseries of The Lost World 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 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 imposing his own values on them — he inadvertently 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 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 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.
- Super Sentai has three dinosaur based series and all of them avert this trope. Mostly because the mecha in these series are all sentient and allies to the heroes
- In Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, mankind lived alongside the dinosaurs millions of years ago, with both races coexisting peacefully. Their guardian gods even took the shape of mechanical prehistoric beings.
- In the backstory of Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger the dinosaurs did not go fully extinct. Instead, when the Big Bad crashed into earth 65 million years ago, the resulting explosion was so powerful that it created a parallel universe, in which the dinosaurs did not die off. Instead, they evolved into sentient lifeforms called Bakuryu, fully capable of human speech. (Japanese human speech that is.) The main three Bakuryu appear to be this trope in their first appearance, as the villains managed to brainwash them, but once they break free of it, they prove to be very friendly creatures. Just imagine a large T.Rex playing with a 5 year old girl, because her adoptive father had no time for her. That's how gentle they are.
- In order to become a member of the Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, the characters had to defeat one of the giant dinosaur mecha to prove they were worthy. The red ranger was the last one to succeed in this task, as his tyrannosaurus partner did not want to deem him worthy. Not because he wasn't powerful enough, but because the T.Rex liked him so much that he did not want to put his life in danger when fighting the bad guys.
- The original 3rd Edition rules for Dungeons & Dragons classified all prehistoric vertebrates as "beasts", not "animals", thus lumping them together with fantastical monsters such as the ankheg (a giant burrowing insect that spews acid) or the griffon. This meant that dinosaurs and other creatures extinct on Earth couldn't be affected by magics or class abilities targeting the "animal" creature-type, even if they still constituted a natural part of their native game-worlds' contemporary ecosystems. This distinction lasted until the 3.5 revisions abolished the "beast" creature type. This gave less weight to being extinct on Earth but more to appear on Earth at any time.
- 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 ''Adventurers'', which was about saving the animals from falling into the villains' hands. It is, however, played straight in ''Dino 2010'' and especially in its American counterpart, ''Dino Attack'', which centered around destroying the evil beasts using the most over-the-top weaponry.
- Zigzagged interestingly in the Darker and Edgier Dino Attack RPG, wherein the mutant dinosaurs were revealed to be the product of a Mad Scientist ( who had actually been manipulated by an Eldritch Abomination from the start), but weren't inherently evil, the character of Rex having literally been able to tame some of them. Also it puts an odd twist when most regular dinosaurs (including the tyrannosaurus) are treated as benevolent and intelligent.
- The Mix and Match dinosaurs from the 1998-99 Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect toy line by Kenner/Hasbro could certainly qualify as nearly all of them are carnivorous and described as being far more lethal than their natural counterparts due to being engineered as bio-weapons.
- In Pokémon, while there are Pokémon designed after dinosaurs, a number of them are extinct and can only be attained by reviving them from fossils, making them true Prehistoric Monsters. However, this is zigzagged - while most fossil Pokémon are based on predators, Amaura and Aurorus are based on herbivores, and have calm personalities. In addition, though the Pokédex describes a number of said predators as dangerous, they still remain loyal to the player, and are even capable of showing affection towards them like any other Pokémon via Pokémon-Amie in Gen VI.
- Played straight in the Dino Crisis series, where even the sole herbivore of the franchise obeys the rule of Everything Trying to Kill You.
- In general, almost every non-RPG video game featuring dinosaurs will invoke this trope on all of its carnivores and upon its horned/armored herbivores.
- Monster Hunter zigzagges this trope. Most of the titular monsters are based on prehistoric animals, and the creators wanted them to be part of a realistic nature with herbivores and carnivores. To avert the trope, they put in peaceful herbivorous dinosaur-monsters like the Aptonoth and they show some of the monsters natural behavior in the Ecology-Videos. But, for Rule of Cool and Gameplay-Reasons, they also play this trope straight, with way to many kinds of carnivores compared to herbivores, and all of the Boss-monsters attacking the hunter on sight, and also with some epic fights between monsters for example in the Ecology Videos of Akantor or Brachydios. The straightest example might be Deviljho, a monster based on T-Rex which needs to eat constantly. It's even stated to have brought entire species close to extinction, and in-game they will even eat their conspecifics or their own tail.
- The upcoming video game Saurian averts this with all its creatures, which are depicted as normal animals that wouldn't be out of place in a nature documentary. Being a game aimed at accuracy and education, they wouldn't have much of an excuse for playing this straight.
- This whole trope is dragged out back and beaten within an inch of it's life by The Optimistic Painting Blog with Prehistoric TV Reconstruction Kitteh!
- Satirized with relish in this parody of the fictional species in Terra Nova.
- Many of the "paleoart" on DeviantArt seek to avert this as much as possible by portraying said prehistoric animals beyond carnage and fighting. Behold a subadult ''Alioramus'' catching insects in a warm summer field.
- The Flintstones (started in the 1960s) completely averts the trope, showing funny prehistoric animals that behave either like living tools or pets (Dino).
- The first aversion was the lovable Gertie the Dinosaur (ironically, the very first prehistoric critter to show up in cinema, in 1914).
- Invoked in Phineas and Ferb when Doofenshmirtz resurrects dodos. He doesn't actually know what a dodo is, but they're extinct like dinosaurs, so he imagines it'll be like giant dinosaurs destroying the city. He is disappointed to find out that dodos are turkey-like creatures. (Which is a bit ironic when you realize that dodos are dinosaurs, like all birds.)
- Subverted in Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures are treated as normal animals.
- Predaking of Transformers Prime is this towards the modern-day Cybertronians, an extremely powerful Super-Persistent Predator who outclasses everyone else in the show subverted in that he and his species were apparently sentient all along.
- Subverted in the Looney Tunes short "Prehistoric Porky" with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals that look fearsome, vicious, and frightening but turn out to just be acting that way as part of a joke, misunderstanding, or Jerkass Façade. Averted by Porky's pet dinosaur Rover, who acts just like a gigantic dog.
- Also subverted in The Simpsons episode "Days of Future Future" where dinosaurs and pterosaurs are tame and perform in a Jurassic Park-type zoo. T. rex was even shown having a teddy bear to sleep with.
Sometimes palaeontologists have given to their fossilized animals quite nasty-meaning scientific names, even though they usually create more neutral names for their critters.
- The word dinosaur is usually said to mean "terrible lizard" (but see below).
- Tyrannosaurus rex translates into "tyrant lizard king"
- Deinonychus means "terrible claw"; Deinosuchus: "terrible crocodile" (one of the largest crocodilians ever) ; Deinocheirus: "terrible hand" (Actually subverted since it turned out to have been a sort of giant goose); Deinotherium: "terrible beast" (Even though it would appear today as a simply odd-looking elephant); Dinofelis: "terrible cat" (even though this kind would not be more menacing than a leopard if alive today); "Dinichthys" (the older name of Dunkleosteus): "terrible fish". It's worthy of note, however, than Dino/Deino in Greek also mean "magnificent"; indeed, when Richard Owen (the dinosaurs Trope Namer) give them the name intended that his dinosaurs were ponderous creatures rather than terrible.
- Velociraptor ("swift thief" or "swift murderer") and all the other -raptors. Ironically, Gigantoraptor ("gigantic murderer"), despite its name was probably vegetarian and behaved like a modern-day ostrich. Though it would likely have entered this trope if you messed with its eggs.
- Triceratops horridus: "Horrid Three-horned Face". However, "horridus" in Latin also means "spiky": an alternative translation might be "spiny three-horned face", subverting the trope.
- The pachycephalosaurians Stygimoloch and Dracorex mean respectively "demon from the Styx river" and "dragon king".
- Gorgosaurus, Teratosaurus: both meaning "monstrous lizard".
- Let us not forget about Teratophoneus, which means MONSTROUS MURDERER
- Lythronax, king of gore
- Several tyrannosaurs had such names, including Tarbosaurus ("alarming lizard"), and Daspletosaurus ("frightful lizard").
- Daeodon, a type of entelodont, means "dreadful tooth".
- Remains that turned out to be individuals of Daeodon were previously known as Dinohyus, which means "terrible pig".
- Troodon means "wounding tooth". But the whole scientific name of it is Troodon formosus — "formosus" means BEAUTIFUL or elegant.
- The full name of Britain's only dromaeosaur species is Nuthetes destructor, which means something along the lines of "destroyer monitor" (as in a monitor lizard).
- Agriotherium (an ancient kind of bear) means "vicious beast"
- Sarcosuchus imperator. It was a prehistoric crocodile about twice the size of even the largest modern crocs, with a name to match: Meat-Crocodile Emperor.
- And speaking of crocodiles, there's the equally large marine crocodile Machimosaurus rex - "fighting lizard king".
- There are also several aversions and inversions of the trope however, even when coping with dinosaurs. Among the latter, Compsognathus is translated in "pretty jaw", Kritosaurus means "noble lizard", Thescelosaurus "handsome lizard", Avimimus portentosus is the "magnificent bird-imitator", Saichania (an ankylosaur) means "beautiful", and so on. Among non-dinosaurs: Thaumatosaurus (a plesiosaur) means "marvelous lizard".
- And don't forget "Agathaumas" (a ceratopsid): "great marvel".
- The famous dinosaur Maiasaura means "good mother lizard" because of the discover of parental care in the 1980s. Probably most dinosaurs underwent some caring to their young, as shown by the fossils of their babies with their huge eyes and short muzzles — that is, those cuteness-inspiring features also present in young crocodilians, bird-chicks, and typically, the mammals (think about baby seals or fawns).
- Guidraco venator, the name of a pterosaur from China, means "Malicious Ghost Dragon". The name may be a bit misleading, though, as despite the animal's fearsome appearance (and indeed, it does look an awful lot like a dragon◊) it was most likely a harmless fish-eater.