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Series / The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs

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The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs (2005, also known as Dinosaur Face-Off in the US) is a two-part TV Documentary from The BBC. Presenter Bill Oddie and a bunch of scientists and mechanics use science to deduce who would win in a fight between the two main animal characters of each episode:

The program was, in concept and execution, similar to Discovery Channel's Animal Face Off note  and The History Channel's later Jurassic Fight Club, but with more dinosaurs than the former and more humor.

The program contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: Like Chased by Dinosaurs, Tarbosaurus is erroneously shown coexisting with Velociraptor and Protoceratops, even though it showed up several million years later. There are indeterminate tyrannosaurid fossils known from the Djadochta Formation (where Velociraptor comes from) but they are very fragmentary.
  • Animal Jingoism: Episode 1 is all about the famous rivalry between T. rex and Triceratops. The animosity between Velociraptor and Protoceratops is also addressed in Episode 2.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Bill Oddie states that they needed to test a wild alligator's bite to figure out the T.Rex's bite force, as he claims alligators in captivity don't have as much bite force. However, an earlier BBC documentary, Horizon had done the same test on a younger captive alligator, which had a similarly strong bite force.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: This series is actually really accurate for the most part but there are still some examples of artistic license.
    • The T. rex head model that Kent Stevens studies has its ear in the wrong spot: the temporal opening.
    • The "Triceratops crash test". The scientists drive a replica of a Triceratops skull into a porous aluminum wall (representing T. rex), and when the skull breaks to pieces, they conclude that the animal was just as vulnerable. Two things wrong with the experiment: both of the participants. A real-life Triceratops head would naturally have all sorts of strengthening tissue supporting the skull, and T. rex... clearly wasn't a large, square-shaped metal surface.
    • It is claimed that Tyrannosaurus was a dumb brute when it is known for being one of the smartest dinosaurs out there. They also compare its brain to that of an alligator, which are not dumb.
    • The Tarbosaurus is just a Palette Swap of the T. rex, even though its skull was quite different, being much narrower and lacking the same binocular vision as its American cousin.
    • Protoceratops tail is shown to be small and completely flat when it should have a long, tall tail.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: The ankylosaur.
  • Breakable Weapons: The horns of Triceratops and Velociraptor's famed sickle-claw, against hard materials.
  • Carried by the Host: Bill Oddie is incredibly amusing.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: What would happen if a Velociraptor actually tried to "fight" an adult ankylosaurid. They end up having two Velociraptor take on a juvenile ankylosaurid.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The fight between the T-Rex and the Triceratops. The T-Rex breaks off a horn but aside from that can't get around the Triceratop's frill to do any real damage. Realizing the fight isn't going well it tries to retreat, which leaves itself open
  • Death of a Child: The juvenile ankylosaurid died.
  • Feathered Fiend: Velociraptor. (And it actually has feathers!) They proudly boast that this is the first feathered raptor on British television!
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Averted, the Triceratops is presented as as highly aggressive and even when it has put up enough of a fight for the T. rex to retreat, it retaliates by goring its attacker when an opening presents itself, killing the T-Rex.
  • Hollywood Science: Mechanical dino experiments and crash-tests, just because.
  • Million to One Chance: As Bill explains, the people that uncovered the famed "Fighting Dinosaurs" fossil had to be extremely lucky. Or as he put it, it's comparable to winning the lottery... every time for the rest of one's life.
  • No Name Given: For whatever reason, the Asian ankylosaur is never referred to by a specific genus, and there are many Late Cretaceous ankylosaurids (the tail-clubbed variety) known from Central Asia. It coexisting with Velociraptor and Protoceratops suggests that it's Pinacosaurus, but its large size is more comparable to Tarchia, which coexisted with Tarbosaurus (whom the ankylosaur fights in this episode). The Anachronism Stew in the episode makes it more confusing.
  • Raptor Attack: Subverted with the Velociraptor.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: All the instances of CGI dinosaurs interacting with the host.
  • Rule of Funny: An animatronic Tyrannosaurus skull tearing a Mini apart. No reason for it, it's just fun to watch.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The documentary portrays hunting behavior quite realistically. A vast majority of predators must attack prey in an ambush against a vulnerable target to stand a chance at bringing down their prey. Even a fully grown Tyrannosaurus is no match for a healthy, alert Triceratops in a head on fight.
    • This documentary was one of the first to state that Dromaeosaurs couldn't use their toe claws for slashing.
  • Stock Footage: The "raptors in the kitchen" scene from Jurassic Park, used to simulate the drastic difference between how the movie portrayed raptors and how they looked in Real Life.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Dinosaurs sounds. Some have been taken from BBC's previous dino-production, Walking with Dinosaurs.
  • Temper-Ceratops: The Triceratops in the first episode is most definitely not a peaceful herbivore and kills the T. rex when its retreating.