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Unknown, unexplained, unbelievable ... until now.

"There are many ways to describe life on this planet. Some creatures could be called magnificent, or monstrous, perhaps misunderstood. But only a few creatures who roam this earth could be called all three."
Sir David Attenborough, official trailer
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Prehistoric Planet is a dinosaur Speculative Documentary that debuted on Apple TV+ on May 23, 2022, produced by both the BBC Natural History Unit and Jon Favreau, and directed by animators Andrew R. Jones and Adam Valdez of Moving Picture Company (who also provided the series' VFX and animation). It documents prehistoric life around the world during the Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous which spans from 72.1 to 66 Million years ago, just before their extinction. David Attenborough narrates, while Hans Zimmer provides the score.

Teaser, Trailer #1, Trailer #2, and preview.

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This series provides examples of:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: An adult Tyrannosaurus is the largest land predator of the Latest Cretaceous, but it's far outweighed by an adult Mosasaurus. The narration does note that, even in water, a full-grown Tyrannosaurus is a dangerous potential prey animal, and the Mosasaurus focuses on the much smaller baby T. rex instead.
  • Amphibian at Large: A Beelzebufo, a huge, prehistoric bullfrog, makes an appearance.
  • Anachronistic Animal: Mostly avoided, since almost all of the animals in the show are from the Maastrichtian stage of the late Cretaceous. The biggest exception is Velociraptor, as the genus is known only from the Campanian stage, about 5 million years earlier than when the show takes place. The creators of the show have said that it isn't actually meant to be a species of the Velociraptor genus, but an indeterminate velociraptorine which are found at various Maastrichtian east Asian locations.
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  • Artistic License – Biology: Male Dreadnoughtus are depicted with balloon-like gular sacs on their necks, however gular display structures in extant species inflate upon exhalation, so they should inflate from the lungs up not the head down.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • Both mosasaurs that appear are too stiff when they swim as they are depicted as thunniform when they should be carangiform swimmers.note 
      • Kaikaifilu is depicted as a reskinned Mosasaurus when during the shows development the former was a tylosaurine and the latter a mosasaurine, as such it should have a longer skull and a tail that is proportionally much longer compared to the body.
      • The Mosasaurus hoffmannii model also possesses quite a few inaccuracies as detailed here.
    • As seen by this snapshot the Therizinosaurus is depicted with the tip of the hallux claw touching the ground when it should have all four of its toes bearing weight.
    • Cimolodon is larger than its real life counterpart and lacks tarsal spurs.
    • As seen in the show Carnotaurus is depicted using arm waving as its primary display to attract a mate. While abelisaur arms did have huge shoulders and a balljoint at the base,multiple studies have concluded that their arms would have been vestigial as the nerve fibers responsible for arm motor function were reduced, similar to extant birds with vestigial forelimbs.note  It is instead more likely that their horns were their main display, as horns in extant animals are used for both sexual display and intraspecific combat. While this doesn't rule out the arms having a secondary display function, this is unlikely to be the main driving force behind the evolution of their courtship rituals.
      • The behind the scenes video for "Forests" mentions the ball joint at the base of the arm as a justification for such a display. It also brings up peafowl, deer, and other animals today that have features that do nothing but attract mates. This ignores important details that 1) Sexual selection typically drives features to become more exaggerated and pronounced, with peafowl tails and deer antlers being highly costly to produce, as well as very cumbersome and conspicuous hindering the individual's survival.note  2) Natural selection does not put selection pressure to lose features if they don't help or hinder an animal's survival. Abelisaur arms were very likely vestigial but stuck around because there was no selection pressure to lose them as they didn’t hinder the animal's survival.
    • Forests in the series are portrayed with closed canopies, but evidence suggests that Mesozoic forests had generally open canopies due to herbivorous dinosaurs either feeding or felling trees (this is even seen in "Forests" with Austroposeidon). It is also speculated to be the reason why angiosperms went on a spree in the Paleocene; already dominant by 50% of most assemblages, they now could form closed canopies and prevent conifers and ferns from being efficient competitors anymore.
  • Audible Sharpness: When the Mononykus is shown brandishing her claw, a stereotypical sword drawing sound effect plays (presumably non-diegetic).
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Mosasaurus hoffmanni is introduced approaching a stray pycnodont fish as if going to eat it, only for it to stop short and lie still with its mouth open before it does. Then it turns out it wanted the fish to clean it.
    • In the Barbaridactylus segment of the second episode, one male is able to sneak into the harem of a much larger male because he's part of a "sneaky" morph that physically resemble the much smaller, crestless females. The alpha male spots him and singles him out, but after a tense moment (made more so because we previously saw him killing another rival), it's stated the sneaky male merely caught the alpha male's eye as a possible receptive female, not as a rival.
    • In "Freshwater", after the old Tyrannosaurus feeds on the dead Triceratops, he goes to a riverbank to clean the wound he suffered hunting the giant herbivore. It is then that another T. rex appears, hinting that a battle among the two theropods will happen. However, the intruder is revealed to be a younger, smaller female, but may also been a rival. After a few seconds where it looks like a battle may indeed break out, the male then raises its neck and lets the female know that he means no harm and wants to mate with her, an action the female reciprocates. Afterwards, they end up mating.
  • Behemoth Battle:
    • The first episode features a sequence between two adult Mosasaurus, the planet's largest and most powerful carnivore during the end of the Late Cretaceous. The narration states such battles can be deadly, and fossils of mosasaurs have been discovered with teeth of other mosasaurs embedded in them.
    • The second episode features two huge male Dreadnoughtus, each nearly fifty metric tonnes, battling for control of the females in the mating grounds. The battle is brutal, with both animals slamming into each other on their hind limbs, stabbing with their thumb claws, and raking each other with their teeth. Because they're so huge, it takes tremendous energy to fight like this, and the loser is killed in the confrontation.
    • The third episode features a fight between two Quetzalcoatlus, one of the largest flying animals to ever live, specifically instigated between a mother defending her eggs and a rival female attempting to destroy the nest to remove competition for her own offspring.
  • Bioluminescence is Cool:
    • The first episode features a sequence of ammonites using bioluminescence as a courtship display.
    • In the fourth episode, the juvenile Antarctopelta finds a cave to hibernate in which is lit up by countless fungus gnat larvae living on the ceiling.
    • One segment in the fifth episode shows a sequence of bioluminescent forest fungi.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The T. rex, Alcione and ammonite segments in “Coasts” end this way; one of the baby T. rexes, several baby Alcione and all of the breeding ammonites die. However, several of the former two groups still live to see another day and the ammonites have passed on their genes, ensuring that a new generation will be born.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Male Barbaridactylus are shown with an enormous forked head crest, while females have a small, rounded one. However, another type of male is instead similar to the female in appearance and mimic females, in order to avoid the aggression of the large crested males and mate in secret.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The fight between the two Mosasaurus in the first episode; although the two rivals are viciously snapping at each other all over, with bites explicitly strong enough to crack into each other's skulls, not a drop of blood seems to be spilled.
    • Even more prominent with the Dreadnoughtus: the battle is surprisingly clean for something based on elephant seal fights (which can get downright gory.) The narrator describes how they rake each other with their teeth and stab each other with their claws, very little of that blood is actually shown.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The first segment of "Freshwater" ends with the female Velociraptor running off with her prey, leaving the two males Zerg Rushed by hundreds of pterosaurs.
  • Bookends:
    • "Forests" (the last episode) ends in the same way that the first episode began; with a shot of a beach.
    • "Deserts" begins and ends with a herd of herbivores in South America.
  • Carnivores Are Mean / Herbivores Are Friendly: Doubly averted. The Tyrannosaurus is shown as a doting parent watching over his young and teaching them how to hunt, and the Tarbosaurus is shown simply wanting to drink and avoiding unnecessary conflict at the water hole. On the opposite end, however, are the Dreadnoughtus, who, in a complete opposite of how sauropods are usually depicted, are shown here engaging in territorial disputes to the death.
  • Chasing a Butterfly: In "Freshwater", a baby Masiakasaurus strays away from its mother, chasing after a crab. Suddenly, a giant Beelzebufo leaps out from a puddle and swallows the baby whole.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: Downplayed. The Olorotitan herd nests in an actively smoking volcanic field as the warm soil will incubate their eggs, but it doesn't erupt during their stay there.
  • Circling Vultures: Circling Azhdarchids in the second episode, but the principle is the same. They're afraid to land to feed on a sauropod carcass because a pack of Tarbosaurus are still sleeping nearby, and have to wait until they leave before descending.
  • Covered in Scars: The old male Tyrannosaurus in the third episode is covered with nicks and faded slashes from a long life hunting large, armoured prey. Even the tip of his tail has been torn off from some prior bout. However, it's noted the scars make him more attractive to females, because it's a clear sign he's fought long and hard in life and won.
  • The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed: Notably averted. Every episode is set during the Maastrichtian epoch, the very last geological stage of the Mesozoic Era, but in no episode is the looming mass extinction even mentioned, never mind shown. In fact, the last lines of the show talk about how abundant and diverse life is on the prehistoric planet.
  • Don't Wake the Sleeper: In the second episode, several Tarbosaurus are napping after feeding on a sauropod carcass, but the smell of meat coating their bodies attracts flies, which in turn attracts insect-eating lizards that clamber over the sleeping tyrannosaurs to catch the flies. The lizards in turn attract a group of Velociraptor, and one of the raptors accidentally bumps into one of the Tarbosaurus attempting to catch a lizard, waking all of them up. It just barely avoids being snapped up.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • The Dreadnoughtus are so huge and heavy that fighting for mating rights is a death sentence for the loser. Most Dreadnoughtus males dare not challenge ruling bull because of this.
    • In the same episode, two large male Barbaridactylus engage in aerial combat (though it is more a chase than a duel). The winner breaks the wing of the loser, which plunges to the ground to his death.
    • Subverted with the Mosasaurus duel: though the narrator claims they are trying to drown each other, keen-eyed viewers can spot the loser swimming off in the dark depths before the winner emerges victoriously.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Therizinosaurus appear as background animals in the second episode among the many animals crowding around a desert oasis, but wouldn't get a segment dedicated to them until the fifth episode.
    • A dead Triceratops appears as the prey of a Tyrannosaurus in the third episode, but they are depicted alive in their own segment in the fifth episode.
    • The end of the third episode briefly shows an unnamed titanosaur, but Word Of God confirms this sequence is in South America, and made on its appearance, it's likely Austroposeidon, which has its own segment in the fifth episode.
  • Easter Egg: A green Triceratops toy can be seen in the hadrosaur migration sequence in "Ice Worlds".
  • Eats Babies:
    • Several examples in the first episode alone; a baby Tyrannosaurus is eaten by a Mosasaurus, the baby Tyrannosaurus themselves feed on sea turtle hatchlings, and some newly hatched Alcione are eaten by opportunistic Barbaridactylus and Phosphatodraco.
    • In the third episode, a female Quetzalcoatlus is depicting eating the eggs of a rival to remove competition for her own young, and a young Masiakasaurus is swallowed by a giant Beelzebufo frog after straying too far from its mother. It's also never specified in the episode itself, but the pterosaurs the Velociraptor hunt appear to be juvenile azhdarchids.
    • The fourth episode depicts a pack of dromaeosaurs eating a dead juvenile hadrosaur, although in this case the hadrosaur merely drowned in a river crossing, so they didn't need to actually kill it themselves.
    • The fifth episode shows a group of baby Zalmoxes being predated by the giant pterosaur Hatzegopteryx.
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Plenty of examples, some of them rather unexpected.
    • Dreadnoughtus bulls display in leks like grouse (with inflatable gular sacs based on sage grouse) and have a fighting style modelled after giraffes and elephant seals.
    • Carnotaurus make colorful mating displays like bowerbirdsnote .
    • Velociraptor hunt from cliffs like snow leopards, and are generally modeled after birds of prey.
    • Troodontids use arson to flush out prey like firehawks.
    • Tethydraco gather in the beaches like gannets and seals, while Phosphatodraco prowl the colonies like pelicans.
    • Barbaridactylus act like frigatebirds, hunting the chicks of smaller flyers and forming elaborate mating leks.
    • Cimolodon has the same coat as some herbivorous rodents despite being a carnivorous mammal.
    • Tuarangisaurus is highly social, moving around in pods and deterring predators in groups like cetaceans.
    • Deinocheirus is shown as a large shaggy herbivore wading in swamps to eat water plants, much like a moose.
    • Mononykus both appearance and behavior-wise combines features of roadrunners, owls and anteaters.
    • Nanuqsaurus are the counterparts of grey wolves, hunting in packs through snowy wastelands, chasing prey for days. Their primary prey is Pachyrhinosaurus, which is the equivalent of a bison, being a large, head-butting herbivore moving in herds.
    • Triceratops eat clay to neutralize plant poison similarly to parrots. The way they access the clay, by entering the dark cave and chewing on rocks, is based on how certain herds of African elephants access salt.
    • Therizinosaurus is a fuzzy brown omnivore with large claws that steals honey from a hive of bees, similarly to a bear.
    • The azhdarchid pterosaurs in the Mongolian desert are the counterparts to vultures, circling in the sky searching for carrion, which they approach only when the large predators (in this case Tarbosaurus) leave the area.
    • Qianzhousaurus is a forest-dwelling ambush predator with striped coating similar to a tiger. It is even native to Asia.
    • Mosasaurus is shown resting at a coral reef so that fish can pick its body clean of dead skin and parasites, much like modern sea turtles and hammerhead sharks.
  • Flipping Helpless: Downplayed with a baby turtle in the "Coasts" episode — when flipped over, it quickly rights itself, but the delay allows a baby Tyrannosaurus to catch it.
  • Fragile Flyer: Played With:
    • "Deserts": A colony of Barbidactylus is the focus of a segment where the much larger males are competing in fierce territorial displays for the attention of the females around them. One of the fights escalates violently, as a male takes to the air to flee with another male closely pursuing. When the pursuing male gets close enough, he nips at the wings of his opponent. While it doesn't appear that the bite does much damage, it does throw the loser off-balance and forces him to collide against the steep cliff face of the mesa the colony is using as breeding grounds, which likely killed the loser instantly (although even if he did survive that, his subsequent forty plus foot fall to the ground certainly finished the job).
    • "Freshwater": A segment early on follows a small pack of Velociraptor hunting a colony of unnamed juvenile azdarchids along the steep cliffs the pterosaurs call home. The female raptor manages to nab one, although it's only after said pterosaur fell to ground beneath them after surviving and escaping the female's first attempt to pin it down. Notably though, after the colony is alerted to the trio of dromeosaurs, they actually try to come to the aid of the pterosaur the female raptor took, and, although they fail, the colony becomes a serious threat to the remaining pair of male raptors, who were abandoned by the female shortly after she grabbed her prize. It's left up to the viewer to decide whether or not the males are driven off or killed.
  • Gentle Giant Sauropod:
    • Averted with the Dreadnoughtus. In a rarely-seen pop culture depiction of violence, the male Dreadnoughtus battle ferociously over territory and mates, biting each other's throats, stabbing with their thumb claws, slamming their necks with brute force and ultimately inflicting so much damage that some of the combatants are outright killed.
    • Played straight with the other sauropods in the show, such as the "Mongolian titan" (drinking at a watering hole, ignoring the smaller herbivores), Austroposeidon (pushing down rainforest trees to graze on their leaves), and the various unnamed sauropods (such as the pair that gently cross necks at the edge of an European forest).
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Played with rather realistically. Most of the larger animals have little to fear besides members of their own species, but in disputes between individuals that are nearly equal in size over territory or mating rights, the fights can get outright lethal. Though smaller species will still defend themselves, such as the case with the Tuarangisaurus pod when they're being hunted by the larger mosasaurid Kaikaifilu, the best they can hope for is to drive off larger predators and convince them to seek an easier meal elsewhere.
    • Outright inverted with the Dreadnoughtus where their giant size is explicitly stated to be a weakness: at 40-50 tons, their fights are extremely costly, and merely falling over can result in fatal injuries for something so big.
  • Giant Flyer: The giant azhdarchids Hatzegopteryx and Quetzalcoatlus make appearances. The less massive, but still quite big Barbaridactylus and Phosphatodraco also show up. Two of the background enantiornitheans also appear to be rather large.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: The T. rex, pterosaurs and hadrosaurs adhere to this trope. Notably averted with the pleisiosaurs, which were almost half the size of the mother at birth.
  • Goofy Feathered Dinosaur: While it's averted for most feathered dinosaurs in this series, particularly the fearsome variety, there are a few that play it straight:
    • While averted for the sparsely-feathered adults, the fluffy-coated baby Tyrannosaurus are portrayed in a more comical light, play-fighting with each other, curiously exploring their environment, and romping about on the beach like kittens.
    • Mononykus, a feathery, toothy bird-like dinosaur with a barn owl pattern, is shown to be rather inexperienced with hunting insects, whether it be getting termites on her face or having trouble choosing her prey due to her unfamiliarity with the desert bloom.
    • Deinocheirus, a giant duck-billed ornithomimosaur with giant claws, is depicted as a voracious plant-eater whose major conflict in his segment is dealing with blood sucking flies. When dealing with these flies, the Deinocherius uses a dead tree as an itch-scratcher, which is played with ironic dramatic music. After dealing with the flies, Deinocherius ends his segment by pooping out his feces in the water, which the narration delightfully notes to be the result of his plant-based diet.
    • The Ornithomimus segment features a late-arriving male desperately looking for nest materials at his meager spot on the island. He turns to a life of crime by stealing branches and leaves from his rival, leading a comical situation where he's constantly freezes in place whenever his rival turns his head back at the nest.
    • In "Forest", a trio of young Therizinosaurus spots a honey-filled beehive on a tree, and naturally try to get it by climbing onto the dead branches to get a taste. Their first several attempts have them clumsily fall off and they finally do reach the hive, the angry bees attack these hapless dinosaurs, giving them a stinging of their lives. It's subverted with arrival of the adult Therizinosaurus looking for honey as well. While the bees sting the adult with as much ferocity as they did to the youngsters, the giant's coat of feathers is too thick to penetrate, allowing the adult Therizinosaurus to destroy the hive with ease. All of this is awe-inspiring to the youngsters watching from the bushes.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Downplayed. Some Barbaridactylus males look like the females so they can sneak past the large, aggressive males to mate but sometimes this disguise is so effective that the alpha may try to mate with them as well, though they can usually deter him by acting like a disinterested female.
  • Hidden Depths: Especially when it comes to deconstructing the Prehistoric Monster portrayal of Mesozoic predators.
    • The Mosasaurus that eats one of the young T. rexes is later shown at a reef. Not hunting or fighting (at least initially), but simply relaxing near the surface while allowing fish, crustaceans and other reef animals to groom him, cleaning his teeth and removing dead skin.
    • Barbaridactylus, introduced hunting the baby Alcione, are later depicted as having complex social structures and elegant displays to impress mates.
    • The Hatzegopteryx makes its entrance devouring a baby Zalmoxes. However, it's not portrayed in a monstrous light, but is shown as an elegant and awe-inspiring creature, ending with it majestically soaring off into the sunset while peaceful, orchestral music plays.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: In the fifth episode, there's a fire that reduces much of a forest to cinder and ash. However, this isn't as destructive as it seems because some plants need the fire to spread their seeds, and some animals use the aftermath of the fire to their advantage, such as an ankylosaur consuming some of the charcoal to help neutralize the toxins in the plants it consumes, beetles which can feed on the now massive quantities of rotting wood, and an Atrociraptor using the smoke to delouse itself. The last shot drives this home as it shows a fern already beginning to push through the ashen soil, indicating it won't be long before the forest recovers.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: The last segment of the first episode has the mother Tuarangisaurus going into labour with another pup, and her irregularly sluggish motions make her a target for a Kaikaifilu mosasaur. Fortunately, the other plesiosaurs, including the mother's older pup, mob the mosasaur and drive it away.
  • Jump Scare: A brief one in "Coasts" that happens without any foreshadowing. Just as the old Mosasaurus is peacefully basking and breathing in the reef where he came to be cleaned by the pycnodonts and cleaner shrimps, a younger male suddenly attacks him to take over his territory, starting a fierce battle. Unprepared audiences will likely be taken out by surprise at this scene.
  • King of the Dinosaurs: Downplayed. A father T. rex and its babies appear in the first episode and, while they're mostly shown engaging in non-predatory behaviors such as playing and scavenging, David calls it the planet's most powerful predator. Three other species of tyrannosauroid also make appearances, Tarbosaurus, Nanuqsaurus, and Qianzhousaurus.
  • Matchstick Weapon:
    • In the fourth episode, a species of troodontid has learned that prey animals are flushed out by forest fires, and that it can help spread the fire by carrying burning sticks to other areas of the forest.
    • In the fifth episode, an Atrociraptor uses a smoldering stick to help rid itself of parasites, by holding the stick under its wings to smoke them out.
  • Medium Blending: CGI dinosaurs are composited onto real environments and alongside real animals in some sequences, such as the baby sea turtles in the Tyrannosaurus beach segment, as well using practical effects.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The third episode features Quetzalcoatlus (known from North America) in southern Africa (notably a region from which virtually no Late Cretaceous fossils are known), although it's implied they only flew so far from their usual range because it's their breeding grounds. Giant azhdarchids in general are thought to have been capable of transcontinental flight so it is also reasonably plausible.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: Many of the dinosaurs combine behavioral traits and features from several modern animals.
    • The Mononykus resemble a mix of a barn owl and a roadrunner, with foraging habits similar to anteaters.
    • The Dreadnoughtus have sex-segregated herds like elephants, gular sacs like frigatebirds and have a combat style similar to elephant seals.
    • The Velociraptor resembles a flightless hawk, forms loose packs like coyotes, and hunts from cliffs like snow leopards.
    • The plesiosaurs travel in fresh and salt water like river dolphins, swallow stones like crocodilians and cooperate in pods like whales.
    • The Triceratops move in herds and go underground for minerals like elephants, but instead of salt, they eat clay with their hooked beaks to neutralize plant poison, similarly to parrots.
  • Mood Whiplash: Done twice in one segment. A Mosasaurus is introduced as a scary, menacing predator, but it turns out to just be settling into a cleaning station to relax. As it's in the middle of relaxing however, a rival Mosasaurus suddenly rams him in a violent territorial dispute.
  • Mosquito Miscreants:
    • The Deinocheirus is depicted being tormented by swarms of biting flies that drive him crazy. He's able to alleviate his itchiness by rubbing himself up and down on a dead tree.
    • A much less humorous take appears in the fourth episode, with the herd of Olorotitan being menaced by large arctic mosquitoes, which are an irritant for the adults but prove fatal for many hatchlings.
  • Mythology Gag: The lizard hunting flies by the sleeping Tarbosaurus is very similar to a sequence in Africa (a previous BBC project also narrated by Sir David Attenborough) in which a lizard hunts flies around sleeping lions, down to moments where the narration is almost identical.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The sneak peek clip of the Tyrannosaurus family on the beach uses different narration and animation than in the actual episode. Most notably it cuts out the footage of the adult turtles, including the end where the father Tyrannosaurus is actually eating a giant dead turtle, and moves the setting from the shore of the Tethys Ocean (which only barely overlapped with T. rex's range) to the Western Interior Seaway (which spanned most of its known habitat).
  • Out with a Bang: The ammonites are depicted as dying after they mate, similar to most modern-day cephalopods.
  • Palette Swap: The various crestless hadrosaurs, such as Edmontosaurus, Barsboldia, Secernosaurus and Telmatosaurus, look very similar to each other apart from their colouration. Averted with the various dromaeosaurs, tyrannosaurs and ahzdarchids, who have distinctly different body shapes despite their similarities.
  • Parental Abandonment: Zig-Zagged with pterosaurs. While the Tethydraco are depicted to be raising their hatchlings on the beach, the Alcione abandon their eggs shortly laying them in cliffside nests, leaving the Alcione hatchlings to fend for themselves the moment they are born. This is to emphasize that not all pterosaurs have the same method of reproduction, thus justifying Tethydraco's speculative parental care. The Quetzalcoatlus take a third approach, guarding their nests fiercely but abandoning their young once they hatch.
  • Ptero Soarer: Averted; the pterosaurs featured in the series are so far nothing but accurate, right down to having the proper freaky proportions. They also participate in speculative behaviors, such as Barbaridactylus opportunistically picking off Alcione hatchlings in midair and having different male forms similar to modern ruff birds and cuttlefish.
  • Raptor Attack: Beautifully averted with the dromaeosaurs, all portrayed as fully feathered and very avian, with a distinct eagle-like appearance.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The last episode ends with a Hatzegopteryx flying off into the sunset.
  • Sea of Sand: In the last segment in the second episode, the Secernosaurus need to navigate in a constantly shifting, featureless desert stretching for many, many miles. With no landmarks to follow, they travel by night and rely on the position of the stars to prevent from getting lost.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: A group of young Therizinosaurus attempt to raid a bees' nest for honey only to be warded off by the defending bees when they get too close. Fortunately for them (and unfortunately for the bees), a full-grown Therizinosaurus arrives who isn't deterred by the stinging at all, swatting down the bee nest with one swipe, and leaves enough honey left over for the babies to snack on.
  • Scenery Censor: The shot of the T. rexes mating in "Freshwater" has a fern tastefully in the foreground.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Carnotaurus segment in the fifth episode has a male meticulously keeping a display arena clean, bellowing into the forest, and doing an exhausting Mating Dance to impress an arriving female. However, she's not sufficiently impressed and leaves without mating.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The sunrise opening as seen in the teaser and the preview clearly evokes the opening of the intro to Walking with Dinosaurs, as well as executive producer Jon Favreau's previous project with photorealistic CGI animals, The Lion King.
    • The second episode introducing Velociraptor seems to have a reference to Jurassic Park, specifically the part where one raptor acts as a decoy for another raptor from the side. The fifth episode also has a segment where Triceratops have to deal with eating poisonous plants. Doesn't that sound familiar?
    • The scene in the second episode where various species are congregating in an Asian desert oasis evokes the water truce from Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book. The arrival of the Tarbosaurus even resembles that of Shere Khan with all the other animals giving him a wide berth.
    • A male Tyrannosaurus mating with a female of his species after killing a Triceratops. Does that scene look familiar?
    • A male Ornithomimus stealing materials from a rival's nest to build his own is no doubt a reference to a male Adélie penguin stealing rocks to build his nest in BBC's previous documentary work featuring David Attenborough, Frozen Planet.
    • A Carnotaurus flashes its brightly-colored arms to court a potential mate, much like how All Yesterdays postulated they could have done. The male Tuarangisaurus also display by vertically raising their necks out of the water exactly as portrayed by elasmosaurs in the book.
  • Shown Their Work: Has its own page.
  • Social Ornithopod: In numerous episodes, hadrosaurs make appearances, and in all appearances they are depicted as herd-dwelling animals which care for and travel with their young. Word Of God has confirmed the series intentionally show hadrosaurs with young very often on purpose; dinosaurs, unlike mammalian megafauna, have large clutch sizes and therefore many young.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the Deinocheirus scene, the mundane activity of scratching against a tree is made awesome thanks to the epic orchestral music accompanying it.
  • Square-Cube Law: This is used against the Dreadnoughtus males when they fight each other for mating rights. It takes a huge amount of energy to even fight all and if a Dreadnoughtus falls to the ground in combat, he is crushed by his own weight and will never get up again. Had the species been smaller and lighter, the loser would have a chance to live for another day and possibly engage in a rematch with his usurper.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: When the young Therizinosaurus disturb a beehive in their attempt to get honey, the bees immediately swarm over the hapless trio and start stinging them to no end. The only thing that stops the swarm is an adult Therizinosaurus.
  • Stock Animal Behavior:
    • Defied. The show goes out of its way to show dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals in unconventional behaviours that are still supported by evidence or at least speculatively plausible, such as introducing Tyrannosaurus swimming across the ocean, showing plesiosaurs collecting gastroliths and Mosasaurus being picked cleaned by tiny reef animals, rather than hunting fish, or showing a Tarbosaurus menacingly approaching a herd of hadrosaurs... which it totally ignores because it just wanted to drink water.
    • Played straight with the angry bees.
  • Stock Animal Diet:
    • Defied by the Tyrannosaurus in "Coasts", which is only seen eating a dead sea turtle, while his children chase after baby turtles. Played straight in "Fresh Water", where a male Tyrannosaurus is shown eating a Triceratops he had just killed.
    • Nyctosaurid pterosaurs are also not shown eating fish as they're normally inferred to: Barbaridactylus is shown hawking like a falcon and Alcione is seen eating insects (admittedly both were in highly unusual circumstances, taking advantage of a juvenile bloom and being that said juveniles are away from the sea respectively). Considering pterosaurs as a whole still get plagued with the piscivore stereotype, this is refreshing.
    • Troodontids in "Ice World" hunt Mesozoic mammals as usual. This time, however, they're proportionally massive mammals, Cimolodon, which is definitely a first.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Downplayed. While the series does have portrayals of iconic animals like Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, it features in equal quantity very obscure prehistoric animals like Alcione and Mononykus at the forefront for their own segments.
    • The first episode features Mosasaurus hoffmannii and Tyrannosaurus rex.
    • The second episode features Velociraptor, as well as Therizinosaurus cheloniformis appearing in some background shots.
    • The third episode features Quetzalcoatlus northropi, as well as returning T. rex and Velociraptor, and a brief appearance of a dead Triceratops horridus.
    • The fourth episode features Ornithomimus edmontonicus and Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, as well as unnamed hadrosaurs that may be Edmontosaurus.
    • The fifth episode features Edmontosaurus regalis and Carnotaurus sastrei, and the return of Triceratops horridus and Therizinosaurus cheloniformis.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In the second episode, a small agamid lizard, chased by a Velociraptor, runs to hide under a sleeping Tarbosaurus. The raptor bumps into the large predator, which wakes up and snaps at the raptor, chasing it away.
  • Thirsty Desert: The second episode focuses on the challenges faced by dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals living in arid deserts, particularly the last segment. The hadrosaur Secernosaurus lives in a desert so arid, the sand is made of powdered gypsum instead of silica (because gypsum powder is so water-soluble, gypsum deserts can only exist in the most arid regions where it almost never rains). They're able to subsist on nutrient-poor vegetation, but are forced to migrate to the coast every decade or so when periodic droughts make survival impossible.
  • Title Drop: In every episode, usually in the closing lines, the narrator refers to Earth as a "prehistoric planet".
  • Zerg Rush: In the third episode, a pack of Velociraptor attempt to hunt pterosaurs nesting along the cliffs. They manage to catch one, but this alerts the whole colony, easily many hundreds strong, which mob the raptors en masse to drive them away.

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