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Series / Dino Lab

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Dino Lab is a two-part TV Documentary from the Discovery Channel. Both hour-long episodes share the basic premise: a bunch of scientists working at the "Dino Lab" bring ancient dinosaurs back to life to conduct experiments on them. Humans interact with CGI dinosaurs in scenes taking place at the lab, while inserted clips of real scientists explain why the dinosaurs behave the way the do. Basically, it's like Prehistoric Park but without an ongoing plot and more science and cheese.


The first episode aired in 2006 and relied heavily on Stock Footage taken from When Dinosaurs Roamed America, Valley of the T-Rex, and Dinosaur Planet. In fact, several of the animals themselves were simply reused CGI models from those shows.

The second episode (Dino Lab II) debuted in 2009. Here, the animals' CGI received a total makeover.

Contains examples of:

  • Animals Not to Scale: Quetzalcoatlus is smaller than in real life.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • When discussing the horns of Triceratops, the program shows copious amounts of Stock Footage of Zuniceratops animations. While the animals were similar, Zuni was smaller and lacked the famous nose-horn of its famous cousin. This results in the narration not making any sense.note 
    • When Nelly the Apatosaurus is introduced in the original, she is billed as "the largest dinosaur". The sequel fixes it by using Argentinosaurus, which actually is the largest dinosaur.
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    • See also the Ptero Soarer and Raptor Attack examples.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Plant-eaters are treated as relatively safe-to-work-with creatures, no matter how many deadly spikes and horns they have. That said, the workers still approach them with caution. Predators are locked away Jurassic Park-style.
    • It should be noted that it's only the T. rex who is kept locked up. The also-carnivorous Troodon is allowed to roam free, and Microraptor is kept in a cat carrier.
    • Additionally, in the second episode, the Stegosaurus are depicted as skittish and easily-startled, and the Hypacrosaurus are fiercely protective parents.
  • Dangerous Workplace: The definition of the trope. Dinosaurs walk around freely inside and outside the Lab (save for the more ferocious carnivores, of course), as do humans. At times, they barely escape getting killed by the uncooperative reptiles. You'd think a facility such as this would be better guarded and staffed.
  • Hologram: They use a T. rex hologram to test the Argentinosaurus and Stegosaurus' fighting abilities.
  • Feathered Fiend: Averted with Microraptor, which is a docile little creature that can be trasported by pet carrier.
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  • King of the Dinosaurs: A Tyrannosaurus rex appears in both specials. His speed is tested in the original, and his bite force in the sequel.
  • The Makeover: On the creatures between the two episodes.
  • Mama Bear: Hypacrosaurus.
  • Noisy Nature: The dinosaurs can't even blink without making loud, synthesized roars.
  • Off-Model: Using different CGI models for the same creatures means that, for instance, the T. rex and the Quetzalcoatlus drastically change their appearance from lab scenes to Stock Footage shots. Not to mention the Triceratops-Zuniceratops confusion. See Artistic License – Paleontology, above.
  • Ptero Soarer: Instead of the relatively accurate Quetzalcoatlus model from When Dinosaurs Roamed America, they use the ugly Dinosaur Planet one. It has an overall body size and head-shape that's so wrong, it looks as if someone beat it halfway into a Pteranodon with a hammer. Oh, and they call it a "flying dinosaur". Really.
  • Raptor Attack: "Troodon". There are no words. They had those nifty Troodon models from Dinosaur Planet, in two different colorations to boot. They make a return in this show, right? Ha-ha. No, they recycled the Coelophysis model from When Dinosaurs Roamed America instead! Sure, people unfamiliar with dinosaurs may confuse them, but there are many differences: the Late Triassic Coelophysis had a much longer neck, four fingers instead of three, a flexible tail, no sickle-claw, and probably no feathers. Troodon, which was a much more advanced dinosaur that hailed from the Late Cretaceous, had a fluffy coating, stiff tail and raptor-esque claws on its feet. What the animators did is the equivalent of trying to sell a grizzly bear as a gorilla, basically. Oh, and they mispronounce it "True-don", as opposed to the correct "Troh-uh-don". That said, the sequel's Microraptor nicely averts this.
  • Rule of Cool: The Dino Lab itself. In fact, if nearly all of the lab scenes were cut, the scientific value would still stay intact (but not so much the entertainment value).
  • Rule of Funny: The trucker from the first episode. Lab workers tell him he has to go, yet he remains at the lab to ensue hilarity!
  • Sea Monster: The lab's plesiosaur in the original.
  • Small Taxonomy Pools: There aren't many dinosaurs, but the show features a colorful variety of them.