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Living Dinosaurs

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They're not back, they never left.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Luppercus on Sep 9th 2017 at 3:10:11 AM
Last Edited By:
Luppercus on Sep 11th 2017 at 11:16:22 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Some writers think Everything's Better with Dinosaurs, but in this case dinosaurs were not brought back with cloning technology nor due to time travel, non-avian dinosaurs just survive the mass KT extinction up until modern (or even future) times.

As dinosaurs are pretty well known, the in-universe explanation for they to be mostly undiscovered all this time often involves a Lost World somewhere in the far and unexplored regions of Earth, or even below the surface of the Earth, where dinosaurs manage to remain untouched. In some cases they evolved into something new, often The Reptilians or Ultraterrestrials.

Although this trope uses the term dinosaur, due to Artistic License Paleontology it is not uncommon that non-dinosaur prehistoric beasts may also be included as examples, like the Plesiosauria and the Pterosauria. But remember, dinosaurs and cavemen living together was a common trope in old media, but is more a case of Critical Research Failure than the intentional use of this trope.

A Sub-Trope of Species Lost and Found, very commonly use in works with Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious, compare with Stock Ness Monster (often portrayed as a surviving plesiosaur) and Dinosaurs Are Dragons (for the idea that dinosaurs actually inspired the dragon myth). Compare Not So Extinct, which is a similar concept applied to fantasy creatures


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball, dinosaurs are seen freely roaming around the modern day world, despite Beerus claiming to have wiped them out the last time he visited Earth.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert introduces dinosaur characters after Dilbert proves mathematically that it's impossible for the dinosaurs to have become totally extinct. Turns out they've just been hiding this entire time. (Incidentally, Dilbert's conclusion is approximately correct: some dinosaurs survived by, more or less, evolving into birds)

    Film - Animated 
  • In Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Mesozoic creatures such as dinosaurs survived the K-T extinction in a Lost World beneath Earth's surface, which the protagonists, a gang of prehistoric mammals, visit.
  • The Good Dinosaur takes place in a world where the dinosaurs never went extinct and developed a primitive society, while humans remained wild, feral creatures.

    Film - Live Action 
  • King Kong (1933) and its sequel Son Of Kong shows Skull Island, an island in the middle of the Pacific with giant gorillas and living dinosaurs. The remake King Kong (2005) kept this idea.
  • Godzilla and other of his fellow Kaiju have many origins, and sometimes are implied to be surviving dinosaurs or related to them. But the most straight use of this trope was in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, where Godzilla's origin is retconned as a surviving dinosaur living in an Island of the Pacific that interrupted an American-Japanese battle. Later mutated due to radiation from a hydrogen bomb test on the island.
  • The Valley of Gwangi: In The Wild West a group of cowboys discover the eponymous valley where dinosaurs somehow survive into the modern age.
  • The Last Dinosaur: Famous B-Movie about an Egomaniac Hunter discovering surviving dinosaurs somewhere deep under the North Pole, taking a crew there to hunt the ultimate hunter (aside from him): the last T Rex.
  • Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend: A couple of young scientists discover the last remaining sauropods in the African jungle. Based on the myth of Mokele-mbembe, a Real Life African cryptid thought by locals to be a surviving race of brontosaurs.
  • The Beast of Hollow Mountain starts off as a Western film, then makes an abrupt Genre Shift into a monster movie when the creature killing livestock around a small Mexican town is revealed to be an Allosaurus. It beat Valley of the Gwangi to the "cowboys vs. dinosaurs" concept by a few years.

    Literature 

    Live Action TV 
  • Dinosaurs surviving to modern times and developing sapience is the central plot behind the TV show Dinosapien.
  • Recurring culture the Silurians/Sea Devils/Homo reptilianote  in Doctor Who are sentient, vaguely-human-shaped dinosaurs from Earth. In order to escape an expected planetary catastrophe that never materialised, they either left to colonise other planets or went into hibernation deep underground. There have been several violent confrontations between them and the humans who evolved millions of years later and took over "their" planet. In some stories, they even have pet non-sentient dinosaurs.
  • The Voth in Star Trek: Voyager are descendants of hadrosaurs that left Earth after discovering space travel, reaching the other extreme of the Galaxy, or Delta Quadrant. But, except for some scientists, they are totally unaware of their Earthly origins, as their religion says they are natives of that region of space.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World a very loose adaptation of Doyle's book has dinosaur (and humanoid Reptilians) living in the eponymous Lost World.
  • The Sliders's episode "Dinoslide" shows a parallel world where dinosaurs never became extinct, becoming an endangered species.
  • In the Chilean puppet show 31 Minutos, one of the songs of the show is Dinosaur Anacleto, the only surviving dinosaur on the Earth that even became a showbiz personality. The song is in general a melancholic one, since the main theme of the song is how lonely Anacleto is because all his dinosaur friends are dead and he wants friends again.

    Religion & Myths 
  • Some Creationists believe that dinosaurs survive up to historical times and co-exist with modern humans. Some even think that dinosaurs still exist and are the origin of several cryptids like the Loch Ness Monster.
  • As mentioned in the film section, some cryptids around the world are thought to be living dinosaurs. The first one was probably the Loch Ness Monster. Africa has several, especially around the Congo region with Mkele Mbembe as the most famous one. There's also the Ropen (an alleged living pterodactyl) in Indonesia. Most modern cryptozoologists do not take these claims serious and, although they do believe some of these animals could be undiscovered species, most of them do not think they are literally [non-avian] dinosaurs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Pathfinder, dinosaurs exist as powerful apex predators in the primeval Realm of the Mammoth Lords and the trackless Mwangi Expanse. They serve as the most powerful animals to exist without magical backing.

    Western Animation 
  • A surviving pterodactyl appears in the Jonny Quest episode "Turu the Terrible".
  • Buster adopts a baby T Rex in episode "Rock 'N' Roar" of Tiny Toons.
  • In OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, small dinosaurs roam around like woodland critters, and pterodactyls fly around like pigeons.

    Real Life 
  • Birds are surviving dinosaurs. The last surviving members of the dinosauria clade.

Feedback: 29 replies

Sep 9th 2017 at 3:38:49 AM

You qualify your write-up to be about non-avian dinos, but you should also probably mention explicitly that avian dinosaurs have, indeed, never left, and that, as far as contemporary science is concerned, modern birds are dinosaurs.

Sep 9th 2017 at 3:47:41 AM

Good point, I will add that into Real Life section

Sep 9th 2017 at 4:55:20 AM

could be, but isn't that for fantasy creatures?

Sep 9th 2017 at 5:47:59 AM

  • Corrected punctuation (added periods at the ends of sentences and commas).
  • Blue Linked some Wiki Words.
  • Changed "notorious" to "well known", as "notorious" has a negative connotation.
  • Corrected spelling (bellow, it sequel -> its, and endangered -> an).
  • Added
    • "the surface of the" after "below".
    • "it" after Artistic License Paleontology.
    • "is" between "but" and "more".
    • "the" between "into" and "modern".
    • "under" between "deep" and "the".
  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Namespaced work names.
    • De-capitalized (Hadrosaurs).
    • Changed "never got extinct" to "never became extinct".
    • Added the episode title to the Jonny Quest example.

Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.

Sep 9th 2017 at 6:41:05 AM

  • In Ice Age 3 Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, Mesozoic creatures such as dinosaurs survived the K-T extinction in a Lost World beneath Earth's surface, which the protagonists, a gang of prehistoric mammals, visit.

Sep 9th 2017 at 9:10:14 AM

Sep 9th 2017 at 1:03:39 PM

  • The Good Dinosaur takes place in a world where the dinosaurs never went extinct and developed a primitive society, while humans remained wild, feral creatures.
  • In OKKO Lets Be Heroes, small dinosaurs roam around like woodland critters, and pterodactyls fly around like pigeons.

Sep 9th 2017 at 6:39:19 PM

^^^^^^ You are right. This trope is actually covered under Species Lost And Found.

Sep 9th 2017 at 7:55:34 PM

That's closer. Yet I feel is too broad, it has examples from magic and using of time travel to bring back creatures, with this been a case of surviving the mass extinction up to present time or as in Doctor Who and Star Trek becoming an alien civilization.

In fact some of the examples there could be brought here instead. For example the one of Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists!

Sep 9th 2017 at 8:11:17 PM

Is Super Mario Bros. the Movie an example, as it has a world where people are evolved from dinosaurs with one example is Bowser?

Sep 9th 2017 at 8:21:03 PM

IIRC they're in a parallel dimension, but I guess won't be that different from the DW/ST examples that are set in other planets, so I guess it will

Sep 9th 2017 at 9:29:41 PM

Dilbert introduces dinosaur characters after Dilbert proves mathematically that it's impossible for the dinosaurs to have become totally extinct. Turns out they've just been hiding this entire time. (Incidentally, Dilbert's conclusion is approximately correct: some dinosaurs survived by, more or less, evolving into birds)

Sep 10th 2017 at 12:29:44 AM

  • In Dragon Ball, dinosaurs are seen freely roaming around the modern day world, despite Beerus claiming to have wiped them out the last time he visited Earth.

Sep 10th 2017 at 1:44:14 AM

Not So Extinct and Species Lost And Found should be mentioned as related tropes in the description, with an explanation of the exact nature of the relationship. (Maybe this is a subtrope to Species Lost And Found?)

Sep 10th 2017 at 1:50:38 AM

World Of Warcraft: Set in the fantasy world of Azeroth, the game features a few beasts clearly based on dinosaurs, coexisting with both modern animals and fantasy creatures. This includes enormous, scaly Raptors, the tyrannosaur-like Devilsaurs, the stegosaur-like Stegodons and the Dimetrodon-like Diemetradon.

Sep 10th 2017 at 2:26:20 AM

The title is misleading. Living dinosaurs as opposed to dead dinosaurs and all that. Not Extinct After All?

Sep 10th 2017 at 3:40:11 AM

Could be but "living dinosaurs" is the term use in The Other Wiki and in other sites so I imagine it will be the most commonly googled term. Also too similar to Not So Extinct.

Sep 10th 2017 at 3:41:01 AM

And yes, Snicka's suggestion is a good idea

Sep 10th 2017 at 3:15:38 PM

Another film example:

  • The Beast Of Hollow Mountain starts off as a Western film, then makes an abrupt Genre Shift into a monster movie when the creature killing livestock around a small Mexican town is revealed to be an Allosaurus. It beat Valley of the Gwangi to the "cowboys vs. dinosaurs" concept by a few years.

Sep 10th 2017 at 7:51:39 PM

Tabletop game example:

  • In Pathfinder, dinosaurs exist as powerful apex predators in the primeval Realm of the Mammoth Lords and the trackless Mwangi Expanse. They serve as the most powerful animals to exist without magical backing.

Sep 11th 2017 at 4:21:31 AM

I think it merits folders now

Sep 11th 2017 at 6:42:17 AM

Regarding the other half of my suggestion, maybe add this sentence to the end of the description: "Compare Not So Extinct, which is a similar concept applied to fantasy creatures".

Sep 11th 2017 at 6:46:09 AM

Sep 11th 2017 at 7:09:18 AM

Live-Action TV:

  • In the Chilean puppet show Treinta Y Un Minutos, one of the songs of the show is Dinosaur Anacleto, the only surviving dinosaur on the Earth that even became a showbiz personality. The song is in general a melancholic one, since the main theme of the song is how lonely Anacleto is because all his dinosaur friends are dead and he wants friends again.

Sep 11th 2017 at 8:43:41 PM

Snicka, I included Not So Extinct as a hidden link (?) but doesn't matter I will add that phrase.

Sep 11th 2017 at 10:50:08 PM

^ Do you mean you Pot Holed it somewhere? I couldn't find it - and it's often better to explicitly name these tropes.

Sep 11th 2017 at 11:16:22 PM

That was it haha. Sorry. And yes I change it now.

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