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Series / Planet of Dinosaurs

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"The last scene of The Planet of the Dinosaurs we've seen was very sad and even a bit moving. But we won't end with these images of devastation and death. We would preserve about these extraordinary animals a lively image and remember them during their best moments, when filled the Earth with their mightiness and with their vitality."
Piero Angela (the show's producer and host), at the end of the last episode.

The Planet of the Dinosaurs or Planet of Dinosaurs ("Il Pianeta Dei Dinosauri") was an Italian Speculative Documentary from 1993, the same year in which the movie Jurassic Park was broadcast in this country. It was quite well-informed and popular, to the point to be translated in English and French and broadcast in USA and other countries worldwide — in Italy it was nearly as popular as Jurassic Park itself, and stood the competition from the Walking with Dinosaurs series and from other similar series in the 2000s.

It's divided in four hourlong episodes, always followed by a commentary. It’s produced and hosted by the most popular italian science-writer of the XX-XXI centuries (Piero Angela, basically the Italian equivalent of British David Attenborough), and has actually the canadian researcher Dale Russell as the main paleontological consultant. Angela appears actually split in two “twin hosts” which talk each other: one remains in the studio (shaped like a hi-tech prehistoric cave), while the other time-travels in a “mesozoic world” and interacts with living dinosaurs. Like in WWD, landscapes are filmed from Real Life with some elements deliberately added as said in a backstage episode, but dinosaurs and other critters met in the time-journey were animatronic puppets: CGI was still rare in docus at the time — this could have been one of the earliest examples, all visible outside the prehistoric voyage. As is typical for Angela's programs the score is entirely synth-made except for some inserpts which have classical or jazz music. The show has also an accompanying book with the same name, written by Piero Angela as well with the aid of his palaeontologist son Alberto. The documentary is still popular in Italy, and many dino-fans of this country still love watching the eight videotapes extracted from the show, with the four episodes divided in two halves each (without the commentaries).



  • The Mesozoic: A general presentation of the dinosaur world.
  • The Predation: Dinosaurs shown in their daily life and struggle for survival.
  • Skies and Seas: Dedicated to flying and swimming Mesozoic creatures.
  • The Extinction: Focusing upon the dinosaur demise and its possible causes.

It shows examples of:

  • All Your Powers Combined: In the 2nd episode, Tyrannosaurus rex is said to have had "the size of an elephant, the violence of a tiger, and the dentition of a shark".
  • Anachronism Stew: Deinonychus living in Late Cretaceous instead of the Early one, and Oviraptor robbing Protoceratops eggs in Late Jurassic instead of in Late Cretaceous. A more subtle case is Corythosaurus and Parasaurolophus living alongside Tyrannosaurus: all were from Late Cretaceous North America, but the first two in reality lived 10 million years before the latter, who was the only one still-living when the final mass-extinction of the non-bird dinosaurs happened.
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  • Aquatic Hadrosaurs: Subverted. The crested hadrosaurs Corythosaurus stay near the water and one "Anatosaurus" dives in water to escape a T. rex, but the time-traveler says that "hadrosaurs were land animals, not aquatic".
  • Aquatic Sauropods: The same about the sauropods. The Brontosaurus are shown near a river while drinking, but have always their feet firmly on dryland and never enter the water. Similarly, the hosts say that "sauropods didn't need the water to substain their weight" and that their footprints demonstrate it.
  • Babies, Babies Everywhere: Mainly averted; except for a brief cameo of a baby Triceratops with undersized brow-horns within its herd and two ceratopsian nests in distinct episodes, almost all animals shown are adults. Some individuals are referred as young (a Triceratops and a hadrosaur in the 2nd episode) but look exactly like the mature ones.
  • Bad Vibrations: Averted: giant dinosaurs do shake often the soil when walking or running, but not making little objects vibrating like in Jurassic Park.
  • Bamboo Technology: The "technologic cave" is the lower studio in which the main host moves all around the main programs. In the commentaries, the host is in the upper studio, a more normal-looking TV studio full of spectators. The two studios are connected together by an ancient-looking elevator used by Piero Angela when going from one to another.
  • Behemoth Battle: Averted. Scenes with huge battles between dinosaurs and other giant reptiles miss, there are only some predation scenes or competition scenes.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: In the first episode, a sleeping Stegosaurus is accidentaly awaken by the human and menaces him with its spiky tail. Only invoked with the club-tailed Ankylosaurus of the forth episode.
  • Carnivore Confusion / Predators Are Mean: Totally averted. The animals all act like true animals, and without "Big Bad" things of some sort.
  • Chroma Key: In the "Behind the Scenes" episode it's detailly explained by the producers that this is the technique used to put the characters in the landscapes during the time-travel.
  • Computer-Generated Images: Some primitive CGI images are seen in the program, but only outside the time-travel. They show non-moving dinosaurs like brontosaur-like sauropods and tyrannosaur-like theropods — and in the 4th episode, generic asteroids.
  • Crapsack World: Averted, except for the world one-week-after the Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs. Invoked in the last commentary, in which the sequence of cathaclysmic events after the fall of the body is described: first dazzling light, then huge clouds of dust, molten rocks from the sky (the "tectites"), and finally worldwide acid rains.
  • Creator Provincialism: Averted again: despite the documentary being from Europe, most critters encountered in the time-journey were mainly or exclusively North-American in Real Life. There are also a few European animals, though: Plateosaurus, Rhamphorhynchus, Pterodactylus, and Ichthyosaurus. Then, African "Brachiosaurus" (now Giraffatitan), Asian Mamenchisaurus and Oviraptor, and Australian Kronosaurus.
  • The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed: Also averted. Even though its very end is portrayed (65 mya), also earlier epochs of the Cretaceous are encountered in the time-travel — ex. 100 mya and 70 mya.
  • Designated Victim: The hadrosaurs, giant herbivorous dinosaurs of the Cretaceous, are usually shown as chosen prey for tyrannosaurids, dromaeosaurids, and even giant crocodiles.
  • The Dinosaurs Had It Coming: Totally averted. Several theories about the dinosaurs' extinction are listed, but the one about the alleged dinosaurs' self-destruction is not mentioned.
  • Downer Ending: At the end of the program the world after the asteroid is shown as an obscure, gelid world with dying plants and struggling Triceratops & Tyrannosaurus, all accompainied by a sad score.
  • Dumb Dinos: Averted. The series was created at the end of the Dinosaur Renaissance and was updated, so the dinosaurs appear fairly intelligent and well-adapted in their environments.
  • Empathic Environment: Once, during a hunting scene in the 2nd episode, see below.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Generally averted, except for Allosaurus which makes an attempt to eat the human, and Quetzalcoatlus (the biggest flying reptile of the show) attacking him when the latter was hang-gliding near it — though it's possibly for territorial defence, as the pterosaur could have mistaken the glider for a rival.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The main host described the Gastroliths (aka "gizzard-stones") possibly swallowed by Stegosaurus and actually found in other dinosaurs' ribcages as a mean to better-digest vegetation. The dinosaurs, however, are not seen eating them during the time-travel.
  • Flight: Piero Angela flying with a hot-air balloon across most the program, and also hang-gliding near giant pterosaurs in the third episode. The pterosaurs themselves, which are shown always-flying here. And then, Archaeopteryx (not encountered in the journey), described as progressively able to take-off and finally actively-flying through its evolution.
  • Gentle Giant Sauropod: Played straight, except for one "brontosaur" almost tail-slapping the human in the 1st episode.
  • Giant Flyer: Pterosaurs Pteranodon and Quetzalcoatlus: the first has a wingspan of 7 meters, the second of 15 meters — the host constantly compares the latter with a an airplane. Quetzalcoatlus is the ptero-star of the 3rd episode, while Pteranodon is the token pterosaur of the 4th one.
  • Headbutting Pachy: Two Pachycephalosaurus do this to each other in a ram-like fashion. This was the dominant theory of the time: later, in the 2000s, it was proposed they headbutted their rival's flanks instead. None of these hyps are proven however, also because pachycephalosaur remains are very rare compared with other dinosaur groups — expecially the hadrosaurs, which have left thousands of fossil individuals.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Partially averted: the traveller constantly says that it's better not to approach the plant-eating dinosaurs too close even though nobody of them really attacks him — at the extreme they warn it in several manners.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: Played three times in the last episode. The Barringer Meteor Crater was made by a meteorite as powerful as 4 Hiroshima bombs; the Tunguska Event (1908) provoked by a mysterious body that hit Siberia with a power of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs; and of course the Cretaceous Asteroid which had the effect of about 100,000,000 Hiroshima bombs.
  • Informed Species: The Brontosaurus more closely resemble Diplodocus in that they have longer necks and more lightly-built bodies, a fairly common mistake in media. The Mamenchisaurus also look more like Diplodocus, due to being a re-used animatronic of the Brontosaurus.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: It shortly happens after the dromeosaurs have killed the hadrosaur in the 2nd episode.
  • Jurassic Farce: Invoked by the main host Piero Angela at the end of the forth episode: "Dinosaurs are always among us, and are destined to remain such for long".
  • Just in Time: The drinking Anatosaurus flees from the tyrannosaur of the first episode in this way, by diving in the river when the predator had almost-reached it.
  • Kids Love Dinosaurs: Played straight: among the questions made in the 2nd commentary there's a child asking Angela if some dinosaurs were able of spitting venom, thinking about the Jurassic Park Dilophosaurus she'd seen in the film. But several other children make questions of any kind to the experts throughout the four commentaries.
  • King of the Dinosaurs: Not surprisingly, Tyrannosaurus rex is the dinosaur that receives the greatest attention in the whole program. Here it's greenish-hided and crocodile-eyed (as visible in the image above, which shows Piero Angela beside it), with exposed upper fangs when the mouth closed, but also with rather horse-like nostrils, and sometimes even snorting in a horse-manner. It's inevitably scaly considering we're in 1993, but is correctly shown with horizontal body, curved neck, running legs, and lift tail. Its skull and skeleton are described by the hosts in the 2nd episode. It's also the only true dinosaur appearing in one form or another in all four episodes together with Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and the hadrosaurians. Other smaller relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex (Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus and "Nanotyrannus") are only mentioned in the book, while another relative, Tarbosaurus, is shown more frequently with photos of its fossils in the book, but none of them is mentioned in the TV program.
  • Lava Adds Awesome: Averted. The classic stereotypical Mesozoic landscape filled with erupting volcanoes is never shown except for the Triassic Era, the period in which Pangea started to fragment.
  • Leit Motif: The basic synth score of the series is very similar throughout the episodes.
  • Lighter and Softer: As a whole this documentary has a lighter tone than other works dedicated to dinosaurs such as WWD – Piero Angela was known in Italy because his programs are conceived to appeal to young audiences. Nonetheless, some scenes of The Planet of the Dinosaurs can appear rather Nightmare Fuel -ish, expecially in the 2nd and 4th episodes: the tyrannosaur eating a young Triceratops alive while it's painfully screaming (and losing blood from its nostrils and mouth) in the 2nd episode; and the Dromaeosaurus pack ripping the flesh of a young hadrosaur with their sickle-claws and beginning to eat it alive. Compensating this, the final asteroid scene, though very spectacular, is not particularly heart-breaking compared with the Walking With one.
  • Mama Bear: A female Triceratops chasing the human away from her eggs in the 2nd episode. This is the only encountered animal in the time-journey whose gender is explicitally identified.
  • Mammoths Mean Ice Age: Totally averted in the main programs. Unlike other docus focusing on prehistoric life the host never mentions extinct mammals and human-ancestors from the Cenozoic, but only Mesozoic plant and animal life (and a bit of Paleozoic life in the 4th episode). Some skeletons of Ice-Age mammals, however, are shown in the forth commentary: a glyptodont, a megathere, and an ancestor of the mammoths, all from the Nature Museum in Paris.
  • Mighty Roar: The two giant carnivorous dinosaurs met in the time-journey are Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, both roaring continously. The host, however, points out that the ability to roar among dinosaurs in general is purely speculative.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Some examples through the series, even though not played really straight since the precise location of the creatures in the correspondent modern world is almost-never mentioned. The only exceptions are Triassic Africa and Italy; the latter was almost-completely "underwater" at the time as said by the time-traveler when on his balloon. The mention of Italy is not Creator Provincialism, because the series was initially intended only for the Italian audience.
  • Mokele-Mbembe: It is briefly mentioned in the third commentary, together with the more famous Loch Ness Monster.
  • My Brain Is Big: The host compares the pachycephalosaur's swollen head to that of a Homo sapiens and to that of a philosopher, pointing out, however, that its actual brain was very small. In other points of the program the hosts say dinosaurs were intelligent and caring creatures, as Dale Russell was the official consultant expert of the series and one of the main paleontological supporters of the "Dinosaurs Renaissance" at the time — he was the creator of the Dinosauroid theory.
  • Nature Documentary: The program shows footage taken from classic documentaries, portraying large mammals like elephants, lions, buffaloes, and antelopes, various birds like pelicans and birds of prey, and of course several modern reptiles, expecially crocodilians and large lizards like the Komodo dragon, the sea iguana, and the australian frilled lizard (the "living fossil" tuatara however doesn't appear). In the first episode turtles are said to be more distantly related to dinosaurs than lizard & snakes are: this was the scientific consensus of the time, but recent research seem showing it was the opposite — there's still no agreement among the experts.
  • Nepotism: This is a Real Life example for some viewers and critics. Piero Angela's son Alberto is present in the show as the second host, travelling in the Real World to show significative places linked with dinosaurs. Note however that Alberto is also a palaeontologist other than a journalist.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Not really played straight, as the giant alligator Deinosuchus of the third episode tries to capture some hadrosaurs but fails. Then, the croc swims toward the human who's however safely on a tree. Crocodile-relatives are also mentioned by the traveler in the first episode when he's in the Triassic period. In the forth one, thecodonts are described as "reminding a bit the crocodiles, and they were the true dominators of the Triassic. They got extinct 210 mya to leave their place to dinosaurs". Finally, several dinosaurs have a rather croc-like eyes with thick eyelids and slit catlike pupils.
  • Noisy Nature: Several examples, with the host describing in particular those of Allosaurus and Parasaurolophus. While the allosaur's one is simple guessing, the second has an actual possible proof: experiments seem showing the nasal cavity within the latter's tubular crest can amplify calls like the frogs' airsacs. The main host cites these experiments even describing the dinosaur's crest as "a sort of natural trumpet". Averted with the three kinds of sea-reptiles: they never emit any sound here, unlike in WWD.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: In the 1st episode, the Plateosaurus 's way to stand up and eat vegetation from trees is said to be a bit similar to a giant panda's.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: In the 4th episode several other theories about the dinosaur extinction are described and analized by the hosts other than the Giant Asteroid one: too thin egg-shells, mammals eating dinosaur eggs, birth of only male or only female dinos, lethal cosmic rays from a Supernova star, intense volcanic activity, rapid changes in the climate, and glaciations. The hosts say that more than 60 theories have been proposed — "evidently too many", some "rather credible" and others "little objective or even totally fanciful". The main host finally affirms that the Asteroid one is the most likely, but that this is not still sure (at the time of the program of course), and that it could have been other concomitant causes as well.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: The opening theme of the program is a jazz-adapted version of a famous classical J. S. Bach's piece, very familiar to the Italian audiences due to having been the opening theme of every Piero Angela's program since year 1981.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Gorgeously averted: the animals here like the modern ones live mostly peacefully, and do fight or kill other animals only when necessary. Only some sea reptiles are called "marine monsters" at the end of the 3rd episode (and in the book as well), but not really portrayed as such.
  • Ptero Soarer: Averted as well: the portrayed pterosaurs remain still credible today except for their naked skin and for other details, and are more plausible than many modern CGI fictional reconstructions of these animals. There is only the slight Anachronism Stew question about Pteranodon living near Quetzalcoatlus in the third episode while in Real Life was slightly earlier, and the former being the pterosaur driven to extinction by the Asteroid in the forth one: the giant cousin Quetzalcoatlus would have been more apt for the role.
  • Raptor Attack: This time played straight, but only because of Science Marches On. The pack of dromaeosaurids jumps on a much heavier Parasaurolophus and kills it during a stormy night near the end of the 2nd episode. At the start of it, however, the relative Deinonychus appears as solitary and not-hunting — with the traveler saying that when it does hunt in pack "it's like being attacked by a pack of large dobermann dogs armed with sickles".
  • Real Is Brown: Partially played straight: dinosaurs and the other reptiles here are coloured differently, but never brightly. Brownish, greenish, and blackish patterns are the most common.
  • Rhino Rampage: The aforementioned mama Triceratops chasing the human away from her nest reminds a charging rhino. Averted with the ostrich-like Oviraptors, who don't meet the equally rhino-like but smaller Protoceratops when stealing its eggs in the 3rd episode.
  • Roar Before Beating: Other than the more classic case of the two giant carnivores Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus when attacking their preys, there are also the two pachycephalosaurs of the 2nd episode which growl before headbutting each other, the mother Triceratops bellowing before charging the human, and the Quetzalcoatlus screeching before attacking the hang-glider. Downplayed with the giant croc Deinosuchus who only hisses when tempting to capture the dinosaur, and averted with the sea-reptile Kronosaurus which is totally silent when it's going against the submarine.
  • Rock Falls Everyone Dies: The dramatic asteroid scene in the last episode is particularly well-remembered (if rather inaccurate). The human is observing the full-moon night sky under a mountain arch, searching for the meteor with his binoculars; then the bolid arrives like a burning ball of fire and strikes beyond the horizon. The sky becomes reddish and all dinosaurs and pterosaurs flee and scream in terror. Then Apocalypse Wow happens: gigantic tsunamis, huge fires, and rain of rocks, all within the same sinister reddish light. Note that this was one of the first documentaries to report the "Chixculub Crater" discovery, made around the same time of the production of the series and explained with detail in the same episode by Alberto aided by a geologist of the University of Berkeley, A. Montanari.
  • Savage Spinosaurs: Averted. Spinosaurus is simply mentioned briefly both in the second commentary and in the book, but not illustrated. At the time, it was still believed terrestrial, smaller than Tyrannosaurus, and usually depicted with a generic, non-croclike head and never with finned tail. The fame of the animal before the 2000s was only due to its crest ("sail") on its back. Spinosaurus Versus T. rex couldn't exist at the time: Jurassic Park 3 was made 8 years after, in 2001. Baryonyx is also briefly described in the third commentary, and was already known and described as a croc-jawed semi-aquatic fisher.
  • Scavengers Are Scum: Totally averted. All portrayed carnivores are strictly predatory (even though the main host says there were also scavengers in the real dinosaur world). Even though a tyrannosaur is shown eating an already dead hadrosaur in the 2nd episode, the time-traveler tell us it was an animal it had killed before. Only in the 4th episode the "rex" is seen feeding of a true carcass (this time of Triceratops) after the strike of the asteroid, but only because is obligated to do it because of the death of the herbivores around.
  • Scenery Porn: The landscapes in which dinosaurs live are wonderful to behold and taken from Real Life locations. You can see, for example, the arches of the Arches National Park in Utah, the redwood trees of the Sequoia National Park, and the landscapes of the Galapagos Islands, among others. However, some plants like the cycads and other elements like active volcanoes or clouds of smoke were deliberately put in to give a more realistic look to the filmed landscapes, as revealed in the special 5th episod "Behind the Scenes".
  • Sea Monster: Kronosaurus and Elasmosaurus are actually aversions: none of these giant sea-reptiles attacks the human's submarine, only Kronosaurus barely touches it. And they are never seen pursuing, killing or eating anyone. It could be that the kronosaur mistook the submarine for a rival like the flying Quetzalcoatlus did with the hang-glider, but both cases are only suppositions.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Dromaeosaurus and Mamenchisaurus (animatronics re-used from Deinonychus and Brontosaurus respectively) make appearances in the show. Camptosaurus, Lambeosaurus, Camarasaurus, Deinocheirus, Supersaurus (referred to as "Ultrasauros"), Torosaurus, Pinacosaurus, Astrodon (referred to as "Pleurocoelus"), Dravidosaurus (considered the possibly last stegosaurian by some), Pterodaustro, Istiodactylus (referred to as Ornithodesmus, which was later reassigned to a dromaeosaurid), and Tropeognathus are referenced.
  • Sherlock Holmes: He's referenced in the 2nd episode, when the main host talks about the dinosaur footprints' argument.
  • Shout-Out: The submarine used by Angela to observe marine reptiles recalls that of Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (as lampshaded by the host himself), though much smaller. Also, the hang-glider is said by the time-traveler to have a rather Leonardo da Vinci -like shape.
  • Slurpasaur: Referenced in the 1st episode, when Alberto is in the Galapagos islands describing the differences between dinosaurs and modern reptiles by showing the marine iguanas, which were used in the past to act as dinosaurs in old prehistory films.
  • Small Taxonomy Pools: Partially averted. Other than a lot of well-known critters, the shows also mention several other prehistoric animals. For example, fossil pieces shown in the studio include a Triceratops skull and Edmontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus jaws, but also the Deinocheirus arms, a Therizinosaurus claw, and a 20 ft tall "Ultrasauros" forelimb. Also mentioned are some Mesozoic birds, "Protoavis", non-stock pterosaurs such as Pterodaustro and Tropeognathus, giant ichthyosaurs, Mesozoic mammals, "thecodonts" like Desmatosuchus, trilobites, armored fish, and the protozoans Foraminifers (shaped like modern gastropod shells).
  • Social Ornithopod: Partially averted. Most encountered hadrosaurs in the time-travel live in small groups, but never in huge herds. Two are met completely alone, the Parasaurolophus under the Supernova of the 4th episode, and the juvenile one killed by the "raptors" in the 2nd. The "Anatosaurus" of the 1st episode which dives into the river to escape the tyrannosaur was accidentally left alone by its companions.
  • Speculative Documentary: Inevitably, since non-bird dinosaurs are now extinct. Note that this is not a Mockumentary a-la Prehistoric Park, nor a Documentary of Lies a-la Clash of the Dinosaurs; it has widely been recognized as a serious program, though hosted with an informal style — typically of all Angela's programs.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Almost every dinosaur that was already stock before Jurassic Park is represented in the show; an odd exception is Iguanodon, since it lived in Europe, although it was never found in Italy.note  Robotic dinosaurs include Coelophysis, Plateosaurus (mainly quadrupedal), Brontosaurus (actually more similar to Diplodocus), Allosaurus, Stegosaurus (with incorrect posture), Corythosaurus, "Anatosaurus", Parasaurolophus, Tyrannosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus (oversized), Edmontosaurus, Deinonychus (still the stock dromaeosaurid at the time, and not yet called a "raptor"), Triceratops, Struthiomimus, Brachiosaurus (arguably Giraffatitan), Oviraptor (crestless like in older portraits), Ankylosaurus (strangely accurate for its time) and Protoceratops eggs. Non-dinosaurs include pterosaurs Rhamphorhynchus, Pterodactylus, Pteranodon & Quetzalcoatlus, and the aquatic reptiles Ichthyosaurus (maybe actually Platypterigius), Elasmosaurus (with flexible neck), Kronosaurus (its relative Liopleurodon became stock only 7 years later thanks to WWD) and the croc Deinosuchus. There's also mention made of Velociraptor (the fossil battle against a Protoceratops), Archaeopteryx (a model of it is detailly described in the 3rd episode), the protobirds Ichthyornis & Hesperornis, and then Therizinosaurus, Compsognathus, Diplodocus, Styracosaurus, Protoceratops, Dimorphodon, a Plesiosaur, a Mosasaur, Dimetrodon, Edaphosaurus, a carnivorous therapsid (arguably Cynognathus), trilobites, and others. The commentaries and the accompanying book add much more animals other than those seen in the main program, such as the non-bird dinosaurs Hypsilophodon, Psittacosaurus, Spinosaurus, Tarbosaurus, Saurolophus, Barosaurus, Kritosaurus, Maiasaura, "Seismosaurus", and Amargasaurus, the pterosaurs Pteranodon sternbergi, Dsungaripterus and Ctenochasma, the mammal-ancestor Estemmenosuchus, and the cenozoic bird "Diatryma".
  • Stock Ness Monster: Averted. The classic link between mesozoic reptiles and the Loch Ness creature in popular media is never mentioned, except briefly for the third commentary.
  • Stock Phrase: The word "immense" (immenso in Italian language, which is the masculine singular variant which becomes immensa in feminine singular, immensi in masculine plural and immense in feminine plural) is quite frequently said by Piero Angela, both the main host and the traveling one, and even by Alberto — who has always copied a lot his father's style. The word is given obviously to the prehistoric animals and/or their body parts, but also to the Asteroid and other modern and ancient geological/astronomical phenomena. In Italian there are many other words meaning "huge": ex gigantesco (gigantic), enorme (enormous), colossale (colossal), smisurato (measureless), titanico (titanic), mastodontico (mastodon-like), and others, like the similar immane, but immenso is the favorite one. Another word often said by the main host is "extraordinary" (straordinario in Italian speech).
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Never played straight: all predatory animals easily give up if they fail to capture their target.
  • Tail Slap: A Brontosaurus almost hits the human with its tail in the first episode. It's worth noting, however, that bipedal dinosaurs are all depicted with too short tails compared with their real counterparts for some reason. Even the brontosaur tails are a bit shorter compared with those of the real-life equivalent, and much shorter than the Diplodocus one, which had one of the longest tails of the whole dinosaur and animal kingdom: up to 45 ft/14 m long, longer than a whole T. rex from nose to tail.
  • Temper-Ceratops: Averted, except partially for the female Triceratops defending its nest, which is not really violent against the human explorer but only menacing, likes what modern rhinoceroses do toward their enemies. Piero Angela frequently compares ceratopsians with rhinoceroses in the program, given the external resemblance, but this doesn't mean however that trikes and kin really behave like them in real life. A Triceratops life-sized robotic puppet is shown in the upper studio, the one of the commentaries, and a skull of and adult specimen is present in the "high-tech cave", belonging to an individual of the rarely-seen smooth-shielded, non-tubercled variety — media triceratopses are usually with tubercled frills.
  • Threatening Shark: Averted. The only shark that appears in the show, live-acted by a modern Carcharhinus shark, only swims in front of the submarine in the 4th episode and nothing more.
  • Time Machine: It's placed in the "techno-cave", completed with monitors and buttons, and is the main element of the studio. The main host uses it to make his alter-ego travelling toward the Dinosaur Age: every time the Time Travel happens the monitor shows landscapes changing with extreme fastness, just like what is shown at the start and the end of WWD.
  • Time Travel: The basic element of the prehistoric adventure. The traveling host is dressed like an explorer complete with satchel, and usually travels with his balloon, or alternatively on foot, or with a log acting as a raft. The hang-glider is seen only in the 3rd episode, the submarine in the 3rd and the 4th ones.
  • Tough Armored Dinosaur: Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus. They appear not particularly menacing, though. One stegosaur shows a bit of aggressivity against the human when awaken by him, while the ankylosaurs appear all peaceful and not threatening.
  • T. Rexpy: Averted: the tyrannosaurs of the program are genuine (according to the scientific consensus of the period).
  • Tropes at Sea: The time-traveller when goes with his submarine in the Cretaceous oceans to meet the sea-life of the time. This happens twice in the series: in the first one he meets the ichthyosaurs and the kronosaur in Early Cretaceous, in the second (ambiented in a more recent epoch) Elasmosaurus.
  • Tropes in Space: There are several reference to astronomy in the forth episode: not only the famous meteorite (here is an asteroid, not a comet like in WWD), but also the now-discredited Supernova theory. One dinosaur itself sees a supernova shining in the night-sky in one scene during the first half of the episode. The episode also mentions the planets and their satellites, the comets, the Moon, the Earth (as a celestial body), and the history of the Solar System. Much Geology is also talked about in the same episode.
  • The Tunguska Event: It's described in the same episode above before the hit of the Asteroid, and is compared with the K/T Extinction Event by the main host. The Tunguska one was hugely less-devastating than the one at the end of the Cretaceous, but in year 1908 burned and destroyed trees for 1.000s of square kilometers, in "a totally isolated and almost-uninhabited land of Siberia", the Tunguska region indeed. In a nearby region of Siberia placed more westernly, a small bolid hit as recently as in 2013 causing much damage (but luckily no victims), and is known as the Celiabinsk Event from the eponymous Russian city near the Urals.
  • Twin Tropes: The host Piero Angela split in two “twin hosts”. He's done the same in other two popular Italian series: the prequel The Wonderful Machine (1990), also broadcast in the USA and elsewhere, in which one "twin" travels in the human body to see organs, tissues and cells, and the other follows his journey from a technological-shaped / cave-looking studio; and the sequel Journey In The Cosmos (1998), whose a similar format is in play but this time dedicated to Space and celestial bodies. All the three programs belong to the same franchise: Quark a long-standing Italian series of documentaries and programs started in 1981 and ideated by Piero Angela himself, who named it after the elementary physical particle that makes protons and neutrons.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Examples cited in the time-journey are the list of hypotheses about the actual function of the large crests of Parasaurolophus and Pteranodon. and the guessing about Stegosaurus plates and the Triceratops horns and frills. And then, there are the debates in the "upper studio" between Piero Angela and the invited guests in the commentaries, among them university students.