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Anachronistic Animal

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Left: Percy the pug from Pocahontas, set in 1607.
Right: Actual pug in the 1600s.

In Period Pieces, animals that didn't exist during that period will often exist anyway. Animals that looked different in the past will also appear in modern form for similar reasons.

This is often done due to ignorance. Animals are mistaken for older than they actually are and thus are shown before they existed. This can also be done for recognizability; people will recognize a Bloodhound but not its now extinct ancestor, the Talbot Hound.

In live-action, this trope might be used for pragmatic reasons. It's more expensive and difficult to find period-accurate animals, assuming they aren't outright extinct.

Animals that are treated as anachronistic in-universe (thanks to Time Travel, Lost World or Not So Extinct) are not this trope.

Compare to Artistic License – Biology, Artistic License – History, Artistic License – Paleontology, Misplaced Wildlife, Present-Day Past, Schizo Tech, Hollywood Prehistory (for when prehistoric animals and humans are lumped together in a vaguely prehistoric setting), and Science Marches On (for when at the time it was believed the species did exist during the setting's time period, but later analysis and studies show it to be a different but related animal instead).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Shirogane has the distinct bent ears of a Scottish fold. Scottish folds didn't exist until the 1960s, while Shirogane has been around since the early 1600s. He is a shapeshifting spirit, so he technically could have changed his form more recently.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's New Dinosaur: The Cretaceous scenes feature prehistoric animals from throughout the Late Cretaceous Period living together 66 million years ago, but Tapejara and Repenomamus particularly stand out by being Early Cretaceous animals. Subverted when the movie shows an actual, modern-day monkey in the middle of the age of dinosaurs — because that was a disguise used by Jill to spy on the main characters.

    Comic Books 
  • Tyrant: The story is intended to be a close-to-real restoration of the world of the Tyrannosaurus, but, with the exception of Quetzalcoatlus, all of the species depicted (Maiasaura, Styracosaurus, Chirostenotes, Pteranodon, and Dromiceiomimus) coexisting alongside it are from the earlier Campanian epoch (while T. rex is known only from the late Maastrichtian, several million years later). This was pointed out to the author by palaeontologists after the second issue, who responded by cutting out most of the offending anachronisms in future issues (with the exception of Chirostenotes).

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire shows coelacanths in Whitmore's aquarium. The movie is set in 1914, and at the time, coelacanths were believed to be extinct— they were not discovered alive until 1938.
  • The Aristocats came out in 1970 but takes place in 1910. It features a Basset Hound character that has shorter limbs and longer ears than Basset Hounds of that period.
  • Lady and the Tramp features two "modern"-style Siamese in the 1900s. The modern Siamese style, with its elongated muzzle and triangle-shaped head, didn't begin development until the 1950s. Prior to that, all Siamese were rounder and less exaggerated looking.
  • Pocahontas: Percy, the decent pampered pet Pug of the bigoted, gold-obsessed Governor Ratcliffe, looks like the very exaggeratedly brachy modern day Pug of the 1990s when this film was made. Pugs originated in China and were introduced into Europe (into the Netherlands and into England later) in the 1500s. The movie is set in 17th-century Virginia in the New World. Pugs back in the 1600s had much longer muzzles and limbs than modern-day Pugs, so Percy looks nothing like the real pugs of his time.
  • The Dingo Pictures film Dinosaur Adventure features tons of these, since Dingo recycles their animation assets all the time. It's supposed to be the age of the dinosaurs, and yet there are gorillas, crows, monkeys and gazelles running around. There is also a duck narrator.note 
  • The Great Mouse Detective:
    • Toby the Basset hound more closely resembles a Basset hound from the 1980s, since he has more exaggerated and easily tripped on ears, far more excessive eyebrow, eye, and torso skin, somewhat shorter legs and far more exaggerated flaws than a real Basset hound would have in 1897.
    • Averted with Felicia the Persian. She is a traditional or doll-faced Persian that would likely show up in the movie's time period. Modern Peke-faced Persians developed during the 1960s and only became popular in the 1990s (after the film came out).
  • Disney's Dinosaur takes place in the age of dinosaurs, but the protagonist Aladar's mammalian surrogate family look like modern sifaka lemurs. Although the earliest primates did evolve before the K-T extinction, they almost certainly didn't look like their modern descendants. The film also features dinosaurs from both the early and late Cretaceous periods existing in a single time and place, and one of the supporting characters is a Brachiosaurus (a Jurassic dinosaur).
  • The Ice Age franchise features a number of relatively obscure prehistoric mammals and birds that were long extinct by the ice ages. This includes brontotheres, Moeritherium, Platybelodon, Chalicotherium, Gastornis, and Hesperornis. The movies also feature Mesozoic reptiles, but their presence is acknowledged as anachronistic: there are sea reptiles that were frozen for millions of years, and dinosaurs that live in an underground Lost World. The Series Mascot Scrat was a fictional species at the time the movies were released, but an uncannily similar species, Cronopio, was discovered since then — which lived in the Cretaceous period, over 90 million years before the ice ages; interestingly enough, another saber-toothed squirrel appears and becomes Scrat's love interest in the third film — the same one with the other dinosaurs — and is "appropriately" placed in the subterranean Lost World with the dinosaurs.
  • Fantasia's Rite of Spring sequence features a Dimetrodon, a creature that lived before dinosaurs evolved. The famous fight between the Stegosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus rex is another example, given that the T. rex and Triceratops (which is also present in the sequence) existed in the Cretaceous, millions of years after the Stegosaurus. Other dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods (along with a few Triassic critters such as Kannemeyeria) are shown as living side-by-side throughout.
  • The Land Before Time has a plethora of animals from various time periods in the Mesozoic era living together, as well as a few animals that lived before or after the Mesozoic such as the Dimetrodon (Permian) from the first film and the horned gophers (Miocene-Pliocene) from one episode of the TV series.
  • Brave takes place in medieval Scotland, and the plot involves a Rebellious Princess named Merida accidentally turning her mother Queen Elinor into a bear using an enchanted spell cake she received from a witch due to Merida and her mother not seeing each other eye-to-eye. However, in real life, bears were already extinct in Scotland (and Great Britain as a whole) by the time the events of the movie take place. Justified, since none of the bears in the movie are "actual" bears.
  • The Star: Inverted with Rufus, who might resemble a modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier but could possibly be an extinct breed of dog known in the ancient world as an Alaunt.

    Films — Live Action 
  • 10,000 BC:
    • The characters ride upon modern-day horses. The problem is, horses in prehistoric times looked nothing like their modern day, more domesticated, descendants. The horses should be much stockier, have upright manes, and be plainer looking (overall being closer to a donkey than a modern horse).
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, giant terror birds like Titanis went extinct around two million years ago and were definitely not around in 10,000 B.C.
  • Jurassic World Dominion: The opening prologue is explicitly set at the very end of the Late Cretaceous, but of the numerous animals depicted (Dreadnoughtus, Giganotosaurus, Oviraptor, Nasutoceratops, Pteranodon, Queztalcoatlus, Moros, Tyrannosaurus, and Ankylosaurus) only Tyrannosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, and Ankylosaurus are from the correct time, with most of the others living many millions of years earlier (never mind that most were also separated spatially as well). The movie also features Cretaceous locusts, even though grasshoppers only truly diversified in the Cenozoic, when grasslands first appeared, meaning none existed in the Cretaceous.
  • One Million Years B.C. cheerfully threw together humans, dinosaurs (of both the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, naturally), and even a Giant Spider.
  • Narrowly averted in The Name of the Rose movie adaptation. There's a scene including a short shot featuring pigs; the director intended to use modern, pink pigs but the historical consultant pointed that pink pigs were anachronistic and medieval pigs were black or brown. Since they couldn't find black pigs in time, the pigs were dyed for the shooting.
  • In The Jungle Book, the live-action remake of Disney's animated Jungle Book, King Louis is depicted as a Gigantopithecus, an extinct species of ape that predates modern humans (such as Mowgli and whoever could have constructed the ruins) by at least a hundred thousand years. This was ostensibly done to prevent the Misplaced Wildlife of the 1967 version, but an orangutan somehow finding its way from Indonesia to India is a lot more plausible than a Gigantopithecus surviving into the Common Era.

  • Jurassic Park: During the aviary scene, Alan Grant, Lex and Tim encounter two giant red dragonflies with six-foot wingspans, presumably Meganeura cloned by the park. When Lex asks what they were, Grant answers that "the Jurassic was a time of huge insects". While giant insects did exist in the past, none of them lived in the Jurassic period nor coexisted with the dinosaurs, with Meganeura going extinct over 100 million years beforehand, in the Late Carboniferousnote . Also, no dragonfly— even in the Carboniferous— had a wingspan of six feet. The largest ones known to science topped out at about two and a half feet.
  • Raptor Red: Although the book is fairly accurate for its time, it makes one major use of Artistic License and it's this. Utahraptor is depicted coexisting with numerous animals that are only known to have lived several million years after it died out, such as the Deinonychus, Acrocanthosaurus, Astrodon, and Kronosaurus. This is especially egregious with the ending, which shows Acrocanthosaurus being decimated by a plague, allowing Utahraptor to dominate, when, if anything, the opposite should be true. note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bridgerton: The Sharmas (who are from India) have a beloved Pembroke corgi named Newton. Corgis were not lapdogs in the show's setting of 1810s England, let alone India (they were bred as working dogs in Wales and were not recognized as a breed until around a century later).
  • Dinosaur Planet:
    • "White Tip's Journey" is set 80 MYA, but most of the animals would be more accurately from 75 MYA. That said, they did all at least live together at the same time in the Djadochta Formation, with the exception of Prenocephale, which is known only from the Nemegt Formation, which is 5 million years younger.
    • "Pod's Travels" is set 80 MYA, but most of the animals, with the exception of maybe Tarascosaurus, would be more accurately from about 70 MYA.
    • "Alpha's Egg" is set 80 MYA, but only Aucasaurus is from close to this time. This example is largely due to Science Marches On, as the contemporary Neuquensaurus was once considered a Saltasaurus species, the contemporary megaraptoran Aerosteon was once considered a carcharodontosaur, and both Alvarezsaurus and Notosuchus were once thought to be from the same fossil formation.
    • "Little Das' Hunt" is set 75 MYA, but only Daspletosaurus is known from this time. Maiasaura, Troodon, and Orodromeus lived almost 2 million years earlier, Einiosaurus lived about 1 million years later, and Quetzalcoatlus lived about 7 million years later and should've been shown being contemporary with Tyrannosaurus and Edmontosaurus in the epilogue.
  • Prehistoric Park:
    • The first episode, set a few days before the K-Pg extinction event, includes the ceratopsian Triceratops, specifically identified as T. horridus. However, it is now know that T. horridus did not make it to the very end of the Mesozoic, because it had evolved into T. prorsus.
    • In the second episode, Nigel travels back 10,000 years to the last ice age to rescue a woolly mammoth. At one point, he is briefly chased by an angry cave bear when he wanders into its cave, which should've been extinct for well over 10,000 years at that point. He lampshades it when he apologizes to the camera crew because he thought they were extinct by now. Another threat they face are cave hyenas, but they also would have been extinct for over a thousand years by then.
    • The third episode has Nigel travelling to the Yixian Formation, approximately 125 MYA. However, his target is Microraptor, which did not live in the Yixian. It's only known from the underlying Jiufotang Formation, which is five million years younger (although very close relatives, like Sinornithosaurus, are known from the Yixian).
    • The fourth episode, set in South America a million years ago, makes the same mistake as Walking with Beasts, showing giant terror birds living almost a million years after they are thought to have died out (and identifying the genus as Phorusrhacos, which only lived in the Miocene, at least 12 million years earlier).
    • In the fourth episode, Nigel travels to the Late Carboniferous, 300 MYA, but two of the animals depicted, the giant scorpion Pulmonoscorpius, and the giant amphibian Crassigyrinus, are only known from the Early Carboniferous, more than 25 million years earlier.
    • The fifth episode is set in the Middle Campanian, 75 MYA, but the tyrannosaur Albertosaurus is only known from the Early Maastrichtian, about four million years later (although the closely related Gorgosaurus did exist at the time and is sometimes considered a second Albertosaurus species). The pterosaur Nyctosaurus is also only known from the earlier Santonian, and would've been extinct for nearly 10 million years by then.
  • Walking with…: This occurs in nearly every episode with at least one animal, in the most drastic cases nearly the entire cast is not known to have existed at the time the episode is supposed to be set.
    • Walking with Dinosaurs:
      • "New Blood" is set during in Arizona during the Mid-Norian, 220 MYA, but it ends with the arrival of a herd of Plateosaurus, which lived during the Late Norian (of Europe, not Arizona). Coelophysis also isn't known from the location until about 208 MYA, although similar animals would have existed at the time. The unnamed cynodonts in the episode are identified in supplementary material as Thrinaxodon, which is only known from the Early Triassic (of South Africa and Antarctica).note 
      • "Time of Titans" is set in Colorado during the Kimmeridgian, 154 MYA, but it includes Anurognathus, which is known from the Tithonian, about four million years later, and in Germany, not Colorado. It also shows dung beetles feeding on sauropod dung, but later studies have confirmed that dung beetles did not appear until the Early Cretaceous.
      • "Cruel Seas" is set in England during the Tithonian, 149 MYA, but nearly every animal featured lived during the Early Oxfordian, about fifteen million years prior. Only the horseshoe crabs and the Rhamphorhynchus are known from the time period. The hybodont in the episode should also be Asteracanthus now instead of Hybodus, which is now thought to only have lived in the Early Jurassic.
      • "Giant of the Skies" is set during the Early Barremian, 127 MYA, but due to Science Marches On, we now know that Tropeognathus and Tupandactylus (identified in the show as Ornithocheirus and Tapejara, respectively) lived during the Albian, about fifteen million years later, while Utahraptor lived about seven million years earlier. The pliosaur in the episode is also identified in supplementary material as Plesiopleurodon, but this genus lived during the early Late Cretaceous, about thirty million years later (it's also considered a polycotylid now instead of a pliosaur).
      • "Spirits of the Ice Forest" is set in Antarctica during the Late Albian, 106 MYA, but Leaellynasaura and Koolasuchus both lived significantly earlier (about ten million years and fifteen million years, respectively). At the time, the climate of the region had warmed enough for large crocodilians to survive in the region, so Koolasuchus' anachronism is a more major error, as the episode notes its kind were driven to extinction by competition with crocodiles elsewhere. The "dwarf polar allosaur" is also based on fragmentary remains, at the time tentatively assigned to Allosaurus (now considered probably megaraptoran), in deposits ten million years older, although similar animals are known from the time.
      • "Death of a Dynasty" is set in Montana during the Latest Maastrichtian, 65.5 MYAnote , but it features a giant crocodilian identified in supplementary material as Deinosuchus, which is only known from the Campanian, at least seven million years earlier. The unnamed boid in the episode is also identified as Dinilysia, which lived twenty million years earlier, and in South America.
    • Walking with Beasts:
      • "New Dawn" is set in Germany during the Late Ypresian, 49 MYA, but features an unidentified carnivoran as the prey of Ambulocetus which is identified in supplementary material as a miacid. While the time period is correct, the so-called "miacid" is a Palette Swap of the bear-dog from a later episode, and looks far too advanced for the time period.
      • "Whale Killer" is set during the Late Priabonian, 36 MYA, but it features Andrewsarchus, which lived during the Late Lutetian, about five million years prior (and in Inner Mongolia, nowhere near the episode's coastal setting). Apidium was also later found to have lived during the Early Oligocene, about five million years later.
      • "Land of Giants" is set in Mongolia during the Mid Chattian, 25 MYAnote , but the species of Paraceratherium (called Indricotherium in the episode) featured lived about seven million years earlier; Paraceratherium species from the time were actually much smaller. A similar error is with the unnamed bear-dogs, which are based on Cynodictis, and also lived slightly earlier. The chalicothere in the episode is based on Chalicotherium, which lived about ten million years later (chalicotheres are known from the region during this time, but they were schizotheriines, which would not have knuckle-walked), although it's Hand Waved by being an undiscovered species.
      • "Next of Kin" is set in Ethiopia during the Early Piacenzian, 3.2 MYA, but the Australopithecus are shown feeding on a zebra carcass. Zebras did not evolve until the Pleistocene, more than a million years later; horses in Africa at the time would have been more primitive three-toed animals.
      • "Sabre Tooth" is set in Paraguay during the Late Calabrian, 1 MYA, but the Smilodon species featured evolved about two-hundred thousand years after the episode is set, while the terror bird species featured became extinct nearly a million years prior (the episode identifies it as Phorusrhacos, which lived about twelve million years earlier, but this was based on a study at the time which lumped the much later Titanis into the former genus (although Titanis is only known from North America).
      • "Mammoth Journey" is set in Belgium, 30 KA, but due to Science Marches On, the inclusion of Neanderthals is now considered inaccurate, as they are currently thought to have died out about ten-thousand years prior.
    • Walking with Monsters
      • The Cambrian segment is set 530 MYA, but the animals depicted actually lived about 518 MYA.
      • Both the Brontoscorpio and Cephalaspis from the Silurian segment, set 418 MYA, is actually from the Early Devonian, at least five million years later. The giant Pterygotus in the episode is also probably now known as Jaekelopterus, which also lived in the Early Devonian, and in freshwater, not the ocean. The giant orthocones that appear in the background would have also been extinct for about ten million years.
      • The giant amphibian in the Carboniferous segment, set 300 MYA, is identified in supplementary material as Proterogyrinus, which lived more than twenty-three million years prior.
      • Most the animals depicted in the Late Permian sequence, set 250 MYAnote  are from the slightly earlier Wuchiapingian epoch and are not known to have survived to the Great Dying. The gorgonopsids and pareiasaurs of the region would have been replaced by therocephalians and dicynodonts by then.
      • The species of Lystrosaurus shown in the Early Triassic sequence, set 248 MYA, is based on the much larger Permian forms. The species found in the time and place (Antarctica) was only about groundhog-sized. Euparkeria is also only known from slightly younger deposits where no Lystrosaurus are found, and the unnamed venomous therocephalian is clearly based on Euchambersia, which is only known from the Permian.
    • Chased by Dinosaurs:
      • "The Giant Claw" is set in Mongolia during the Late Campanian, 75 MYA, but it includes numerous species known only from the later Nemegt Formation, which is dated to the Early Maastrichtian, about five million years later (and also would have been swampy and forested, not desert-like). The pterosaurs in the episode are also identified in supplementary material as Azhdarcho, which existed fifteen million years earlier.
      • "Land of Giants" is set in Argentina during the Early Cenomanian, 100 MYA, but Argentinosaurus lived slightly later, Pteranodon lived about fifteen million years later (and in North America), and the South American Sarcosuchus lived about thirty million years earlier. The iguanodont in the episode may also be the later-named Macrogryphosaurus, which lived about seven million years later and was much smaller than depicted (still unnamed iguanodonts are known from the time period, however).
    • Sea Monsters:
      • The Mid Triassic segment, set 230 MYA, includes the giant ichthyosaur Cymbospondylus, but it is last known to have lived seven million years prior. Small theropods and small pterosaurs also appears in briefly on the coast, but no theropods or pterosaurs are known from the specific time and place (not stated, but considering the fauna, probably Central Europe) until about ten million years later.
      • The Pliocene segment, set 4 MYA, includes the toothed whale Odobenocetops, but this animal is only known from the earlier Late Miocene, more than a million years earlier.
      • The Late Cretaceous segment, set 75 MYA, but it includes Pteranodon, which lived about ten million years earlier, and has a cameo from Tyrannosaurus, which only evolved about seven million years later (the closely related Daspletosaurus is known from the time and place, however).

    Video Games 
  • Temtem: In-universe, Mawmense's Tempedia mentions that it was featured prominently in a historical movie even though Digital Temtem were only invented recently.
  • Zniw Adventure: The game is supposedly set in the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous, but Triceratops, Albertonykus, Pachycephalosaurus, and Thescelosaurus are from the later Maastrichtian and Nothronychus is from the earlier Turonian. This is pointed out in the in-game encyclopedia.

    Web Comics 
  • Arthur, King of Time and Space makes Sir Gilbert the Bastard's dog a rough collie for the sake of a Timmy in a Well gag. Modern collie sub-breeds only became a thing in the 19th century. (In The Rant, Gadzikowski notes that he didn't know if collies existed in the 5th century, but says it's wrong either way since Gilbert's dog is supposed to be a hunting hound.)

    Western Animation 
  • Dinosaur Train:
    • A recurring character is a Palaeobatrachusnote  who lives in the Late Cretaceous, even though the genus didn't appear until the Eocene, approximately 10 million years after the impact.
    • During the "What's at the Center of the Earth?" special, the Pteranodon family meet a Necrolestes in the late Cretaceous. In reality, it lived 20 million years ago.
  • The Flintstones is cheerfully and unashamedly anachronistic, featuring dinosaurs (most of which aren't identifiable to any real species) living alongside humans with no explanation.
  • Terry Dactyl, mascot of The Funny Company, is exactly what his name implies—an anthrpomorphic and diminutive pterodactyl who doubles as a Deadpan Snarker.
  • The Simpsons: The "Time and Punishment" segment from "Treehouse of Horror V" has a mish-mash of dinosaurs from different time periods living together, not to mention a ground sloth.