Series / Clash of the Dinosaurs
Clash of the Dinosaurs
(2009) is one of Discovery Channel
's many dinosaur-related documentaries
. It was presented in a Mini Series
format, and contained a grand total of four hour-long episodes. Each concentrated on different aspects of the dinosaur lifestyle, such as how they coped with environmental changes, how they hunted and defended themselves, and how they reproduced.
The show received notoriety even before its TV debut, thanks to the heavy advertising campaign the TV station gave it. When it finally aired, it quickly gained a bad reputation
due to the several serious problems that plagued it. Besides its criminal overuse of (admittedly pretty
) Stock Footage
, Clash of the Dinosaurs
paleontology expert Mathew Wedel who appeared on it, and presented wild theories as solid facts. Thanks to these shortcomings, the program is nowadays considered by dinosaur fanatics to be one of the worst dino-documentaries
of recent times, and the offended scientist actually encouraged his fellow paleontologists to boycott the production company
The series was followed by a special titled The Last Day of the Dinosaurs
. This time, the producers told us their story of how these majestic creatures went extinct
. This one had fewer problems.
A list of tropes that appear in the series:
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: While the the criticism for the UV seeing Quetzalcoatlus is warranted (as there's no evidence of such a thing in the fossil record), some less science minded folks tend to write it off as some fanciful, if not supernatural, creation of the writers with no basis in fact. In actuality, many birds can indeed see in ultraviolet and many raptorial birds like kestrels employ this as a hunting strategy in much the same way the Quetzalcoatlus is erroneously depicted as doing.
- Anachronism Stew: Easily avoided, since not that many animals appear, and the ones that do were contemporaries in Real Life.
- Actually, the program implies that Deinonychus fed on juvenile tyrannosaurs, while there was a 30-million year gap between the two.
- Apocalypse How: A Class4 event.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Poor Mathew Wedel. He wasn't only quote-mined on national TV, his helpful emails explaining dinosaur science dismissed by the creators and nearly made a fool in the eyes of his colleagues... the bastards even misspelled his name on screen!
- Artistic License – Paleontology:
- To clarify that quote-mining part: the expert was trying to clear up the misconception that large dinosaurs had two brains (one in their head, one in their hip-region). The editors made it sound like he was confirming the notion.
- What more, he clearly said that sauropods most likely covered their eggs with vegetation. The CGI clip shows a sauropod leaving its eggs out in the open. Artistic License - Biology or They Just Didn't Care?
- When their eggs hatch, the young sauropods and tyrannosaurids look exactly the same as the adults. "Sauropodlets" and "rexlings" actually had way different body proportions.
- Their duck-billed dinosaurs have fleshy lips.
- While the raptors were nice and feathered, they still weren't quite feathered enough. Also, the broken wrists.
- Recycling of animation models meant that the lean troodontid Saurornithoides looked the same as the relatively robust dromaeosaurid Deinonychus.
- Quetzalcoatlus being depicted as an aerial hunter that searches for prey using UV-seeking vision like a kestrel. While Quetzalcoatlus most likely did have very keen eyesight and the flight abilities for giant azhdarchids are looking better than they ever have before, it's highly unlikely that any azhdarchid did most of its hunting in flight nor had UV-seeking vision. Instead, it more likely hunted on the ground like a stork. Additionally, it's depicted as being covered in scales rather than the fuzz it was covered with in life.
- Bad Ass: Ankylosaurus deals with Tyrannosaurus.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: Ankylosaurus.
- Blatant Lies: To quote executive producer Bill Howard:
"The series sets out to gather the sum total of today's paleontology and scientific knowledge about dinosaurs, letting viewers see what these creatures were like as animals, not prehistoric monsters
- Crapsack World: The end of the Mesozoic.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: To paraphrase one talking head, using his hands to represent dinosaurs:
- Eats Babies: Quetzalcoatlus and Deinonychus.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Goes without saying.
- Eye Scream: The Triceratops stabs the Tyrannosaurus in the eye.
- Feathered Fiend: Deinonychus. And it's actually shown feathered.
- Foregone Conclusion: The extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous happens.
- Giant Flyer: Quetzalcoatlus.
- Gorn: The Deinonychus pack attacking the young Sauroposeidon.
- Infant Immortality: Averted, as the Quetzalcoatlus preys on T. rex babies.
- Mexican Standoff: This is what the Narrator calls the situation the Saurornithoides and Charonosaurus find themselves in. The former is trying to steal the latter's egg.
- Misplaced Wildlife: The narration suggests that Tyrannosaurus lived in Asia, when it was strictly North American. To be fair, some include the Asian Tarbosaurus in the genus, but most (both then & now) consider them distinct.
- Outrun the Fireball: The dinosaurs attempt this. Emphasis on "attempt".
- Palette Swap: The extinction special has this with any new species they show. They don't even change the color.
- Sauroposiedon gets cast as Alamosaurus
- Deinonychus gets cast as Saurornithoides despite the latter being more closely related to Troodon.
- Parasaurolophus gets cast as Charonosaurus.
- Prehistoric Monster: Pretty much averted in the original miniseries, but played straight in The Last Day, when food sources became scarce.
- Ptero Soarer: A scaly, UV-seeing Quetzalcoatlus.
- At least they got the quadrupedal launch right. That's about it, unfortunately.
- Quote Mine: Poor, poor Mathew Wedel.
- Raptor Attack: The Deinonychus at least have feathers, but are shown killing a Sauroposeidon with ridiculous ease.
- Rule of Cool: Hadrosaurs using a sonic weapon against theropods? A pair of small raptors attacking a sub-adult sauropod? Do note, when the talking head note said "juvenile sauropod" and "pack of raptors", he meant tiny babies and a huge pack, but the animators instead used the largest animal that would still qualify as a "non-adult" specimen getting mauled by a pair of raptors.
- Seldom-Seen Species: Sauroposeidon, Charonosaurus and Saurornithoides.
- Don't forget Alamosaurus! Yes, they reused the Sauroposeidon model, but who cares?
- Shown Their Work: Most of the talking head segments. (They did get actual paleontologists, after all.) The key word being most.
- Feathered deinonychosaurs. One would be surprised as to how rare they are in media.
- An entire segment is dedicated to the mechanics of Quetzalcoatlus' launching technique. Additionally, while its method of doing so is most likely wrong, the portrayal of it feeding on baby dinosaurs is definitely accurate.
- The T. rex model is also one of the better ones among other recent CGI'ed reconstructions of the animal. For such a well-known and popular dinosaur, you'd be surprised how often computer modelers mess up its anatomy, especially the shape of the head. That said, there's no excuse for the crocodylian jowls of the show's model.
- Small Taxonomy Pools: You only get six dinosaurs and a Ptero Soarer. The special throws in three more dinos.
- Speculative Documentary: Maybe a bit too speculative.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Deinonychus and Quetzalcoatlus. Sadly, along with the sauropod Sauroposeidon, those are the only creatures in the doc.
- Stock Footage: It drives a man nuts! The same clips being replayed constantly, over and over and over again!
- Tyrannosaurus rex
- Viewers Are Goldfish: To quote the quote-mined paleontologist:
"[The program] is incredibly repetitive, to the point that I found it hard to watch for any length of time without my attention wandering. Not just the CGI clips, but the narration as well. You’ll learn in 30 seconds why females tend to be choosier about mates than males (eggs are more expensive than sperm), and spend the next 15 minutes having that slowly beaten in your brain using as much empty verbiage as possible. Ditto every other fact on the show."