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Rule Of Cool / Walking with Dinosaurs

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  • Walking With Dinosaurs:
    • New Blood: There is no proof of cannibalism in Triassic cynodonts.
      • Another example is the pack of Coelophysis being capable of ripping off the Postosuchus's tough skin with their weak jaws.
    • Time Of The Titans: We're unsure about stegosaurs using their plates to frighten predators (though their plates didn't flush red from blood, being covered in horn and all), but it's cooler showing them this way; the same thing about the symbiotic behaviour in the tiny pterosaur called Anurognathus.
      • Also note that this episode (placed in Late Jurassic North America) is the most Stock Dinosaurs-filled of the six of WWD: we can see the largest/most striking animals of each subgroup, but not their smaller relatives just because they aren't spectacular enough (with the notable exception of an unnamed small bipedal herbivore similar to Othnielia). We can see Allosaurus but not the smaller, horned Ceratosaurus (very common in old films but very rare in modern TV); Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus but not Camarasaurus note ; the iconic Stegosaurus shows up while Iguanodon's relative Camptosaurus is absent being not so impressive-looking (never mind Camptosaurus was probably the main prey of Allosaurus), and the robustly built Ornitholestes instead of the slenderer Coelurus (although the latter appears in the book).
      • The "Ballad of Big Al" (also placed in the same habitat) had the possibility to add more non-stock animals as well, but producers decided instead to add only one dino, a stock one (and how!): Apatosaurus aka Brontosaurus.
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    • Cruel Sea: Liopleurodon was not that big (1 ton and 20 ft seem more reasonable measures than 150 tons and 80 ft), nor was the largest carnivorous animal that ever lived. The narrator handwaves it by mentioning that it was an unusually large and extremely old specimen, over one-hundred years in age.
    • Giant Of The Skies: Ornithocheirus wasn't the largest pterosaur ever, and like Liopleurodon it wasn't that big anyway as shown in the program (best estimates say a wingspan of 20 ft, while other pterosaurs reached 39 ft). We can also count the Zerg Rush -like full bird attack against the old gigantic pterosaur. In reality, the bird portrayed (Iberomesornis) is known from only one postcranial skeleton.
      • And then, among Early Cretaceous dromaeosaurids, the 18ft long Utahraptor was preferred to the much smaller Deinonychus, despite the former being far less-known scientifically than the latter. It's interesting though, that Utahraptor is portrayed with the body and skull design that Deinonychus was thought to have: thus Deinonychus was represented in the show in an indirect way (much like the Jurassic Park Velociraptor are actually Utahraptor-sized Deinonychus), but this time is justified, since we don't know how Utahraptor's head looked like, other than the very end of the snout).
      • The fact that North American dromaesaurids appear in this episode at all, for that matter (and do the purely speculative pack hunting their media appearances are known for). Apparently the lesser known spinosaurid Baryonyx was originally going to appear in their place.
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    • Spirits Of The Ice Forest: This is the most speculative episode, because dinosaurs from Cretaceous Australia are poorly-known compared to those from other habitats. In addition, all animals portrayed are more or less oversized in respect to their Real Life counterparts.
      • The Iguanodon relative Muttaburrasaurus with air sacs to produce loud sounds: this one is a classic (but not demonstrated) theory about several iguanodontians and hadrosaurs including Edmontosaurus and Saurolophus.
      • Only one skeleton can be attributed with security to Leaellynasaura; there are other possible remains but their assigntion is problematic. So all the talk of Leaellynasaura being social, hyerarchic and building communal nests is speculative. Interestingly, remains of simple, individual burrows have been later attributed to Leaellynasaura and similar dinosaurs.
      • The "dwarf allosaurs" were based on a single ankle bone that had been assigned provisionally to Allosaurus for lack of a better option - and given the distance in time and space with the North American species, it was a matter of time that it was renamed. The show simply used recolored models of Allosaurus and made them the primary antagonists.
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    • Death Of A Dynasty: Dromaeosaurus living alongside T. rex. It may be considered an example of Rule of Cool since dromaeosaurid remains coming from that period are very scanty, while those of the better-known but less dramatic relative Troodon are much more complete (however Prehistoric Park averted it showing the latter in the small predator role).
      • And, obviously, T. rex getting more than half the time, while the herbivorous ceratopsians, hadrosaurs and ankylosaurs have only minor roles (and most "small" dinosaurs from that habitat, such as ornithomimids, pachycephalosaurs & thescelosaurids, are totally missing, although ornithomimids do appear later in Prehistoric Park).
      • It's interesting, though, that T. rex and Ceratopsians do not battle this time (don't worry, they'll fight each other in Prehistoric Park...)
      • However in the companion book, a Tyrannosaurus does bring down a wounded Torosaurus (in the series, it survives and the rex is shown eating a Triceratops).
      • Weirdly inverted with Quetzalcoatlus; even if it wasn't known as a giant stork-like pteroaur note , at the time it was commonly depicted as a giant vulture/marabou like scavenger. Instead, they opted for an Ornithocheirus like fish eater (nevermind that it lived inland and was found nowhere near the coast, as the episode implied it was a vagrant from the sea), not even dignifying it with a mention of its status as the second largest flying animal that ever lived.
      • Though it was mentioned in the narration as a "13-meter giant", so it's possible that the writers simply felt that having to add onto that the explicit statement that it was the largest flying vertebrate ever would just be insulting the viewer's intelligence.
  • Walking With Beasts:
    • New Dawn: Carnivorous giant ants... just that. We don't know if they were really that voracious or even if they were carnivorous.
      • Other example is the whale-ancestor Ambulocetus portrayed just like modern Nile crocodiles are in most documentaries, feeding only upon land mammals, while in Real Life it probably ate mostly fish (just like Nile crocodiles do). Not to mention dropping it on the will-be German Messel Shales and handwaving it as a vagrant animal far from its coastal range.
      • Gastornis portrayed as the apex predator of Eocene Europe, and the implication that flightless birds were the dominant predators all over the world in that time. Even the partidaries of carnivorous Gastornis (and this is now disproven) agreed that it was not built for speed and had to be an ambush predator, but the show's version sprints after its prey all the time. Other predators like creodont mammals and especially running crocodiles are ignored.
      • We don't know how many eggs Gastornis laid at a time. However, it is more dramatic if it is only one and the ants eat it.
    • Whale Killer: Basilosaurus throwing a shark in the air just like orcas do with seals. And 60 tons seem too much for this very long but slender cetacean (perhaps 20 tons is a more reasonable measure).
      • The hungry Basilosaurus looking for food in a mangrove swamp, as a way to introduce a new cool looking location and the Egyptian El Fayyum fossil faunas. Even the narrator calls this rare.
      • Andrewsarchus, at the time believed to be the largest mesonychid ever, as the representative of this group in the series, even though the genus is known almost exclusively from a jawless skull.
      • Andrewsarchus eating nesting sea turtles in the coast. Its remains (along with those of its screen partner, Embolotherium) were found in Mongolia, and while the show moves them to Pakistan, they still never come near the protagonist Basilosaurus.
      • A Physogaleus grabbing an Apidium sitting outside the water. A crocodile would be more likely.
    • Land Of Giants: Among the several Hyaenodon species of different size (from a small dog to a large cow), the largest of them all was chosen, and the narrator claimed they were the size of a rhinoceros. Also, "bear-dogs" (only distant relatives of modern canids) acting just like actual dogs.
      • Which might make the last example an aversion, as the bear-dog species depicted is of the smaller, dog-like kind, rather than the nowadays more famous, bear-sized variety.
      • The Bullet Time scene. In "New Dawn" it can be justified as a way to show the Gastornis's run and the Propalaeotherium it's after. This one feels like someone bet the animators they couldn't do a low speed Orbital Shot around a Hyaenodon slipping on the mud while hunting.
      • Because Chalicotherium is not found in Asia until later, the crew called their beast "chalicothere" and handwaved it as a close relative of Chalicotherium that has not been discovered yet.
      • In general, the episode was based on the older Hsanda Ghol Formation but was moved forward in time so it could include chalicotheres and Daeodon-like entelodonts, which are not found in it (and as far we know, could not survive in a desert environment).
    • Next Of Kin: Deinotherium entering in "musth" and chasing all the Australopithecus they meet just like modern elephants; however, deinotheres weren't elephants, just distant relatives (as much as we are related to baboons) and we have no proof about such a behaviour. Again, like hyenodonts, only the largest species of Deinotherium show up (the smaller ones weren't bigger than modern elephants).
      • Dinofelis as a specialized australopitecine killer, being later driven back by a concerted effort of the australopitecine group. This is a showcase of Bob Brain's book The Hunters or the Hunted?, where he argued that Dinofelis preyed mainly on primates and that its extinction happened when hominids got too smart and turned the tables on it. However, there are no australopithecine fossils with Dinofelis bites. There are australopithecines with leopard bites, but leopards are considerably smaller and they are still around, and also a later hominid species with bites of Megantereon, a sabertoothed cat smaller than Dinofelis. A study using calcium isotopes, though not completely conclusive, found that their sample of Dinofelis had the results expected of an animal that fed solely on grass-eaters like ungulates, while the ones of Megantereon, leopard and hyena fossils were compatible with predation of omnivores like primates.
      • Dinofelis was also given a Signature Scene where it climbed a tree carrying a felled Australopithecus just like leopards do with their prey (and we know leopards did with australopithecines, in fact). However, Dinofelis was heavier and larger than a leopard, with leg proportions more like a jaguar or a lion. Both can climb trees, but do it more rarely and never take their prey there.
      • The early scene with the male Australopithecus knuckle-walking and waddling, for no real reason other than to dramatically rise when the narrator says "this ape walks upright".
    • Sabre Tooth: Smilodon roaring just like lions (only felids pertaining to the modern genus Panthera can roar thanks to their specialized larynxes), and showing the same let's-kill-all-the-cubs behaviour typical of modern lions. But the most awesome example is the giant sloth Megatherium stealing a carcass to Smilodons and killing one of them in the process.
      • Smilodon being able to run. In Real Life they were laughably slow runners and could barely turn while moving at any speed. They used raw strength and surgical cuts to the throat, not mobility, to make a kill.
      • Regarding the lion-like behavior, Smilodon is thought to have been a pack-hunter based on evidence from the La Brea Tar Pits, and there is really only one extant species of large pack-hunting cat to base their behavior on.
      • La Brea also tells us that there was no noticeable size difference between male and female Smilodon like there is in big cats. If Smilodon lived in packs, these were packs with little male-on-male conflict, like wolf packs, rather than the harem type of lions.
      • Prehistoric Park repeats the trope showing again roaring Smilodons.
      • About roaring Smilodons according to recent evidence, yes, they could.
      • Setting the obligatory Smilodon-centric episode not in the La Brea Tar Pits like every other documentary, but in South America just after the Great American Interchange (stated, but all of the species in the episode except the birds had not even evolved yet when the episode was set, they are modern animals). This allowed them to feature the biggest sabertoothed cat ever (S. populator, rather than the stock S. fatalis), the biggest ground sloth (Megatherium), the biggest and best defended glyptodont (Doedicurus) and the weirdest ungulate in the Western hemisphere at that time (Macrauchenia). Note that Smilodon is the only northern immigrant featured while every other taxon originates in South America. If the episode was set before Panama the closest looking thing to Smilodon would be the less impressive Thylacosmilus. And Real Life S. populator probably hunted more often other immigrants like horses, llamas and young mastodonts, and worried more about defending its kills from hyena-like dire wolves and the giant bear Arctotherium than about terror birds and ground sloths.
      • It didn't allow them to use terror birds, who had already disappeared from South America (and we now know, also North America and thus everywhere), but they ignored it.
      • The pack's younger females testing their hunting abilities on a Doedicurus, a car-sized glyptodont with a flail-like tail. Surely there wasn't a less dangerous candidate?
    • Mammoth Journey: The Woolly Rhino attacking that poor Neanderthal only a few seconds after having perceived its presence, and without any apparent reason. Real Life modern rhinoceroses aren't normally that aggressive (while elephants can be such, because of their "musth").
      • Subverted/inverted in Prehistoric Park; here the male mammoth does charge Nigel and the huge rhino Elasmotherium which flees immediately (despite Elasmotherium weighting 5 tons as much as a male mammoth and had probably more chances to win a fight against the latter, being faster and more agile).
  • Walking With Monsters: This one might as well be named "Walking With Rule of Cool". It's filled with it from start to finish. Not counting the "Theia" hypothesis about the Moon's birth presented as fact, we have:
    • Cambrian Period: Anomalocaris fighting each other without any apparent reason, and the tiny vertebrate-ancestor Haikhouichthys scavenging the flesh of the loser Anomalocaris just like modern hagfish and lampreys; note  Also, the only true Cambrian invertebrate shown is, naturally, the first superpredator Anomalocaris (The others are generic trilobites.
    • Silurian Period: Armoured fish Cephalaspis portrayed as a tireless migrant despite it was a bad swimmer in Real Life (and depicted so just a moment before during the Brontoscorpio's chase); not to mention that scorpion which moults onto land instead of into water (with a high risk to get dehydratated...). Also Brontoscorpio being shown instead of the more classic-but-smaller Palaeophonus to represent the passage from water to land among arthropods. Pterygotus was also not the largest sea scorpion, that title belongs to a larger relative that lived later.
    • Devonian Period: Always-screeching protoamphibian Hynerpeton (shaped upon the iconic Ichthyostega) that lays eggs with the same look of a frog's eggs. Also the Hyneria being used instead of the iconic Eusthenopteron to represent the transition from fish to amphbians because it's larger. And being oversized.
    • Carboniferous Period: The most Rule of Cool-filled of all: Arthropleura rearing just like a cobra to frighten enemies, and the giant anthracosaurian amphibian impaling the "giant millipede" after the fight. And giant spiders with black venom (Real Life spiders have colourless, water-looking poison) and apparently laughing sadistically upon its victims before destroying the nest of the tiny protoreptile Petrolacosaurus (with the narrator saying "ARTHROPODS ARE BACK!").
    • Early Permian Period: The rival female Dimetrodon chooses to lay her eggs just over another Dimetrodon nest despite all the endless room available... Interesting that Dimetrodonts are represented in a strong Komodo Dragon-like fashion in this show, despite being mammal relatives (and correctly shown with mammal-like skin instead of scaly, at last). Not to mention the Dimetrodont which sprays dung over the camera and the babies which dive themselves in dung to repel the (alleged) cannibalistic adults...
    • Late Permian Period: The Gorgonopsid shown is the largest member of its family (most relatives were much smaller than the near-reptile Scutosaurus which appears as its prey); the Diictodons playing a sort of Wack-a-mole with the gorgonopsid; the giant amphibian labirhynthodont which produces a "cocoon" just like modern lungfishes (there is no proof of this); and it seems there are too many Gorgonopsids that manage to survive around such a small lake almost empty of food...
    • Early Triassic Period: The herbivorous stem-mammal Lystrosaurus and the croc-like chasmatosaurs behaving just like modern wildebeest and Nile crocodiles; another stem-mammal, the carnivorous therocephalian, with a venom so powerful that "it's several times more lethal that a black mamba's" (we don't know even if it was venomous at all, although it has been seriously suggested by palaeontologists.).
  • Sea Monsters plays it straight more than any other Walking With continuation: but it may be a bit more justified this time, since the purpose of this program was just showing "the most dangerous prehistoric marine wildlife".
    • Most animals appear oversized because of Rule of Cool (Megalodon, however, was probably undersized and it was also severely underrated)
      • However it's worth noting that the stock sea reptile Elasmosaurus shows up accurately at last, with relatively stiff necks (and not snake- or swan-like as seen in almost every other portrait).
    • Inverted with the fact they did not show the other large marine predators from Megalodon't ocean (and boy there are A LOT of giant marine predators in that time, much more than the Cretaceous)
  • Related to the Sea Monsters example above, the Land of Giants special also details Nigel Marven's efforts to track down the largest of all the dinosaurs and the biggest land predator ever: Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus, respectively. We get to see a whole pack of Giganotosaurus bring down a small Argentinosaurus, but if this wasn't cool enough for the viewers, they included a scene of Nigel's plane flying alongside a (still oversized) Ornithocheirus, and as the icing on the cake, included the gigantic crocodilian Sarcosuchus. Naturally, recent studies indicate Giganotosaurus wasn't the largest carnivorous dinosaur, and there may have been bigger dinosaurs than Argentinosaurus, but at the time it was made, they were considered record-holders.
    • The special was a two-parter, the other episode being The Giant Claw. Not that The Giant Claw, but it also centers around a freaky-looking animal, the Therizinosaurus, the famed Freddy Krueger-Edward Scissorhands-Wolverine-osaurus. It turns out it was actually a gentle herbivore, but not before slapping a Tarbosaurus (the Asian "twin" of T. rex) right in the face with those (arguably fragile) claws. Actual (albeit naked) Velociraptors are also included, though they are easily scared away by the film crew.
      • Fragile? A fossil has been found of a Tarbosaurus with a fractured skull, probably by a therizinosaur claw or an ankylosaur tail club (it's in the hands of a private collector, though)
      • Talking about the "largest theropod" argument: if a complete Therizinosaurus skeleton is discovered in the future it could become the real largest theropod: thanks to its bulky body, it was perhaps heavier than the modern "biggest one", the sail-backed Spinosaurus (made famous by Jurassic Park III). But don't forget the equally impressive giant ornithomimosaur Deinocheirus: if its forelimbs were proportionate to the body, it might result as long as Spinosaurus and perhaps even taller than it. Let's see the awesome concurrence: both Deinocheirus and Therizinosaurus were large herbivorous (at least omnivorous in the case of Deinocheirus) theropods which dispute the record of the "longest forelimbs" among bipedal dinos; both are rather mysterious, since they are mainly known just from their forelimbs which once lead to the belief that they were predators even more powerful than T. rex; and both lived in the same habitat, were described in the same country (Mongolia) and entered the dinosaur list in the same period (the 1970's)! It will be awesome to see a Therizinosaurus vs Deinocheirus fight; or, alternatively, Deinocheirus vs Tarbosaurus.
      • The rest of the body of Deinocheirus has now been found. While it had a much lighter build than Therizinosaurus, it was probably one of the tallest, if not the tallest, of all theropod dinosaurs. Depending on whether its row of extended spines sported a sail, a clump of muscles or a hump of fat, it could have been remarkably powerful creature.
  • The books also details many events of from the series much differently, much more violently, and with a bigger emphasis on Rule of Cool and what may be Nightmare Fuel for some. They also include new scenes. Examples:
    • The wounded Postosuchus puts up a real fight, and manages to snatch a Coelophysis before they overwhelm it.
    • A herd of Diplodocus mowing down a group of small predatory Coelurus with their spiky necks.
    • The Allosaurus-scene in the small canyon involves more predators (although the Allosaurus attack from the end is missing).
    • As if he hadn't suffered enough already, the male Ornithocheirus from "Giant of the Skies" gets physically attacked every time he tries to land on the mating grounds; he's bitten by the other males, pecked at until his head starts bleeding and has his wings torn to shreds before dying of his injuries a while later. In the episode, the other males just clack their beaks at him until he is forced to land outside the main display area, where he attempts to display to the females, only to be ignored in favour of the males nearer the centre. But his instincts force him to keep trying and he eventually dies from exhaustion, heat stress and starvation.
    • While in the series, the giant pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus just catches a fish, eats it, and then flies away, in the book, the poor thing is mangled and pulled into the lake by a bunch of giant crocs Deinosuchus.
    • And perhaps the most violent scene of all: the Ankylosaurus (who is a mother this time) isn't satisfied with "just" breaking the leg and messing up the internal organs of the T. rex... it brings her down to the ground, and continues to bash the T. rex's head with its clubbed-tail into a bloody mess... in front of their kids. The Tyrannosaurus chicks later drink the blood of their mother.

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