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Trivia / Dinosaur Planet

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  • No Budget: A number of models are reused for different related species throughout the series, recoloring them for different episodes (sometimes even within the same episode). This usually results in at least one of the species depicted being quite incorrect in its anatomical features.
    • The Saltasaurus from "Alpha's Egg" and "titanosaurs" (Ampelosaurus?) and Magyarosaurus from "Pod's Travels".
    • The Troodon from "Little Das' Hunt" and the dwarf troodontids from "Pod's Travels".
    • Alvarezsaurus ("Alpha's Egg") and Shuvuuia ("White Tip's Journey").
    • Mainland (Rhabdodon) and dwarf "Iguanodon" (Zalmoxes) in "Pod's Travels".
    • Allodaposuchus ("Pod's Travels") and Notosuchus ("Alpha's Egg").
    • Pyroraptor and the dwarf Pyroraptor in "Pod's Travels".
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    • Aucasaurus ("Alpha's Egg") and the mainland and dwarf Tarascosaurus ("Pod's Travels").
    • Maiasaura and Edmontosaurus in "Little Das' Hunt".

  • Science Marches On: While it was very up-to-date (some might even say ahead of its time) with its dinosaur portrayals, modern paleontology has made a few discoveries since its debut:

General Issues

Despite being one of the main points of pride for the show, many of the fully-feathered maniraptoran designs show their age:

  • Dromaeosaurs ("raptors"), troodontids, and oviraptorosaurs should all have actual clawed wings, with the wing itself extending off the second finger just as in modern birds, plus their second and third fingers being fused by flesh. The Oviraptor, Velociraptor, and troodontids are the best in this regard, given half wings (though still not properly feathered) that extend as far down as the wrist, while the dromaeosaurs in "Pod's Travels" lack any attempt at wings and just have "feather sleeves". Additionally, while none of them completely pronate their hands, they still fold them in a semi-pronated posture that is contradictory to what we now know about wing anatomy.
  • Many of the designs have fairly reduced (if not completely absent) tail fans that are limited to just the end of the tail, but recent finds show that such features actually ran along at least half the length of the tail in many, if not most, species.
  • The feathers covering the bodies of most of the designs appear to be simple filamentous integument (like downy feathers on baby birds) when in fact many of them should have an outer covering of more structurally complex feathers, giving them a smoother and less fuzzy appearance. The presumed feather type also affects the coloration; some colors like bright blues and greens and iridescent effects are a result of the structure of complex feathers and thus usually cannot be produced by more hairlike simple feathers. (See here and here for guides on this.)

Many theropods have facial soft tissue reconstructions that are lacking in comparison to modern standard, while the opposite is true for ornithischians:

  • The large theropods are generally portrayed with exposed upper teeth while the smaller ones like dromaeosaurs have covered teeth, as was convention at the time (largely influenced by the Greg Paul-ian dinosaurs of Jurassic Park). In all likelihood, non-beaked theropods generally had immobile lizard-esque lips covering their teeth.
    • The troodontids do have exposed teeth, though it's hard to immediately distinguish them.
    • Some of the theropods (the "lipless" ones, ironically) snarl and bare their teeth, but reptile facial musculature is stiff and immobile, so they shouldn't be able to do that.
  • The ornithischians are depicted with mammalian cheeks that cover the sides of the mouth as far as the beak margins, but a recent study has shown that most groups had more lizard-like configurations wherein the jaw muscles mostly attached at the back of the jaw. This means that there was no extra-oral tissue ("cheeks") along the sides of the mouth, giving them a seemingly wider gape.

Virtually all of the dinosaurs have pronated forelimbs, or at least occasionally hold them in a pronated position. With some exceptions, this is anatomically impossible for dinosaurs to have actually done.

Many of the dinosaurs vocalizations use a combination of stock mammalian sound effects like elephant squeals and big cat roars and growls, but recent studies of their vocal abilities (largely via inferring the type of vocal chords by phylogenetic bracketing) has suggested that many dinosaurs likely had a much more limited and subtle repertoire comprising of closed-mouth hisses, booms, and hoots.

    "White Tip's Journey" 
  • Despite being set 80 million years ago in the Gobi Desert, the formation this environment and ecosystem represents (the Djadochta Formation) has since been found to be about 75 million years old.
  • A couple things on Velociraptor:
    • Despite being the crux of the episode's story, Velociraptor probably didn't need to live in packs to survive. In fact, there's no evidence to suggest pack life for pretty much any dromaeosaur. Conversely, there is ample evidence of aggressive and even fatal interactions between dromaeosaurs, Velociraptor included, so the offscreen massacre of White Tip's pack by another group isn't unlikely.
    • Male dromaeosaurs were probably the ones responsible for brooding nests (so Blue Brow should've at least been a more active father), and young were likely capable of foraging on their own early on instead of relying on their parents for food.
    • The narration uses an outdated 100 lb (45 kg) figure for White Tip's weight, but more modern studies of dinosaur mass give a 33-43 lb (15-19 kg) range for her species — about a third of the initial estimate.
    • The model has some 24 teeth in the upper left row alone, while actual Velociraptor have about 16-18 teeth per row.
    • The crests in front of the eyes are actually the front end of a brow ridge that would run over the entire eye like in eagles, giving a permanently angry look. Distortion and decomposition of the fossil skull likely led to the original crest interpretation.
    • While not technically incorrect, the narration's description of White Tip's eggs' incubation period would've had more accurate connotations if it were described as taking months rather than weeks.
  • Prenocephale should have a few updates, itself:
    • Rather than being a desert dweller, this animal seems to have been more partial to upland forests rather than open sand dunes.
    • The juveniles/subadults featured are presented as identical to the adults, but it's since been shown that pachycephalosaurs seem to have started out flat-headed before dramatically growing their characteristic domes during adolescence. Additionally, these domes would likely be covered in a keratin pad rather than skin and scales as shown.
    • The finding that pachycephalosaurs were poorly equipped for head-on collisions (à la bighorn sheep) yet still show signs of cranial injury due to repeated usage has led to the idea that they were using their heads more like wrecking balls, swinging into an opponent's body in a similar fashion to giraffes.
  • Oviraptor is rightly shown to be a nurturing parent, with mothers nesting nearby each other. However, newer studies of Asian oviraptorid nests indicate that they were actually communal nesters, with multiple females sharing a single nest that was brooded by a single individual (likely the father).
    • Additionally, it would be safer to refer to the animals in the show as Citipati, since Oviraptor itself is actually fairly poorly known from the fossil record and most popular depictions of this animal are actually based on the more complete Citipati, including the famous crest.

    "Pod's Travels" 
  • Pyroraptor is (confusingly, given Velociraptor's portrayal) shown with a heavily scaled lizard-like face as opposed to the skin and/or feather-covered face that dromaeosaurs had. Additionally, Pod's uniformly bright red coloration is unlikely given his reconstruction's presumed feather type (filamentous integument rather than the complex feathers he should have) and diet.
    • A pack of (likely wholly fictional, though possibly based on then-scant remains of Balaurnote ) dwarf Pyroraptor are shown successfully taking down prey several times their own size, a common hypothesis that has largely fallen out of favor in the last decade or so since there's little good evidence for it and no modern tetrapods really routinely behave this way. Their green feathers are also unlikely given their intended feather type.
  • The creatures referred to as Iguanodon are actually rhabdodontids, a more basal ("primitive") group of dinosaurs than Iguanodon itself. Unlike their depictions, rhabdodontids were bipedal and lacked the thumb spike characteristic of Iguanodon and similar dinosaurs.
    • The large mainland species are Rhabdodon itself, while the smaller ones on Hateg Island are Zalmoxes. Despite the main evolutionary theme of the episode being insular dwarfism, it turns out that Zalmoxes is close to the size of ancestral rhabdodontids, while Rhabdodon's large size was actually the result of gigantism.
  • While its fragmentary remains are still considered attributable to an abelisaur, Tarascosaurus is generally considered a nomen dubium nowadays. Additionally, estimates of its "actual" size indicate it being closer in size to the (fictional) dwarf species on Hateg Island.
  • Aside from its presence in the story to begin withnote , a couple problems with the plesiosaur:
    • Plesiosaurs were generally covered in small smooth scales, likely lacking osteoderms entirely. They also had small vertical fins on their tail ends.
    • The necks of plesiosaurs (particularly elasmosaurids, which this seems to represent) likely couldn't bend as much as depicted when it grabs Pod's sister.
    • It's also oversized relative to more modern estimates of elasmosaurid length, stated to be 50 feet (15 m) long while the largest modern estimates reach about 40 feet (12 m).
  • The Troodon are based on remains currently assigned to Elopteryx and/or Bradycneme, both of which are fragmentarynote  and may not even be troodontid in the first place.
  • A subversion; Pod wouldn't have been at the top of Hateg island's food chain, the much larger Hatzegopteryx would have been; it would have been willing to snack on Pod himself if it got the chance. However, the story takes place 80 million years ago and Hatzegopteryx's temporal range was 66 million years ago, so Pod would likely enjoy some time as the island's apex predator long before the giant pterosaurs arrive.

    "Alpha's Egg" 
  • It turns out that Saltasaurus dates from rocks about 70 million years old, making it about 10 million years too young for the episode's setting. A more appropriate replacement would be the sauropod Neuquensaurus.
  • We now know Aucasaurus had even less developed arms, and lacked claws altogether.
  • The remains upon which the show's Carcharodontosaurus is based have since been properly studied and described (they'd been unpublished at the time the show was produced) as the megaraptoran Aerosteon. While it's unclear exactly what megaraptorans are phylogenetically — Are they allosauroids? Basal tyrannosauroids? Non-tyrannosauroid coelurosaurs? Something else entirely? — it's clear that they bare little resemblance to carcharodontosaurs, being notably smaller and more agile predators with proportionately long arms. Of course, this wasn't known in the early 2000s.
    • It drags the Saltasaurus carcass, but a recent study on the carcass-moving capabilities of large theropods — specifically on Carcharodontosaurus itself — shows that it wouldn't have been capable of doing this with such a large prey item, considering that Saltasaurus is estimated to weigh about three times the maximum dragging capacity of the theropod.

    "Little Das' Hunt" 
  • The episode is set in the Two Medicine Formation of Montana, 75 million years ago. While most of the fauna presented are at least based on remains from the formation, the formation itself covers a nearly 10-million year stretch of time and subsequent studies of its stratigraphy show that not all of the animals there actually coexisted due to being spread out across that time range. Daspletosaurus and Einiosaurus are the only two genera to come from rocks of a similar enough age to justify their inclusion, while Maiasaura, Orodomeus, and Troodon are from over a million years earlier.
  • Orodromeus is generally okay, although modern depictions often give the animal a speculative feathery coat akin (and due) to Kulindadromeus. It also has teeth protruding from its beak, although teeth and beaks don't develop together in that fashion.
  • Pretty much everything about Quetzalcoatlus (and whatever else the show by extension implies about pterosaurs as a whole) is extremely outdated.
    • Quetzalcoatlus didn't really look nor live like that.
      • Its inclusion in the episode is inaccurate, since the animal(s) that the name refers to lived over 5 million years after the setting. Azhdarchid remains that have been found in the Two Medicine Formation have since been referred to either Montanazhdarcho or an unnamed species separate from Quetzalcoatlus.
      • Appearance-wise, the animal is shown with a scaly/leathery hide and the proportions of a pteranodontid (short neck, small head, long broad wings) with a squat posture on the ground. However, all pterosaurs had a covering of filamentous integument called pycnofibersnote  across their bodiesnote  for thermoregulatory purposes (refuting the narration-implied notion that they were ectothermic ("cold blooded")), and azhdarchids like Quetzalcoatlus generally had proportionately long necks and large heads that contrasted with their proportionately short wings, as well as a more upright posture that would allow for an efficient gait.
      • Rather than being a clifftop-dwelling piscivore that couldn't take off under its own power, Quetzalcoatlus was likely a terrestrial forager that moved through open areas and targeted small prey, using its powerful forelimbs to vault itself into the air when it needed to take off.
    • Pterosaurs were probably not outcompeted by birds, as the two coexisted for 85 million years with seemingly little noticeable effect on each other's species diversity, even into the Late Cretaceous, which still featured a decent variety of pterosaur species of different sizes and ecological niches.
    • Young pterosaurs, unlike what the show implies, seem to have been highly precocial to the point that they could fly within minutes of hatching. The majority of nests and eggs that have been found also appear to have been buried.
  • The Maiasaura models lack the small spiky ridge/crest between their eyes that they should have. Additionally, they're implied to only have grown to about 20 feet (6 m) in length when in fact the largest known specimens measure almost 30 feet (9 m).
  • Daspletosaurus is depicted as heavily scaled, even though tyrannosaurs actually had very small scales across most of the body that wouldn't have been visible from more than a few feet away. Additionally, though more speculative, a light feather coating is possible for at least juveniles like Little Das himself.
    • The official website describes this species of Daspletosaurus as D. torosus when it is in a fact a separate, later species called D. horneri.
  • Einiosaurus is shown with four fingers contacting the ground, when ceratopsians actually only walked on their inner three digits. Its forefeet are also much too elephantine, with a large footpad behind the digits that didn't actually exist in any ceratopsian, or any quadrupedal dinosaur for that matter.
  • The final scene of the episode flash-forwards to the Hell Creek Formation, 67 million years ago. Perhaps this is due more to budget constraints than research work, but the environment is depicted as being identical to that of the Two Medicine Formation when in fact Hell Creek was a much more perennially lush environment, being a forested coastal floodplain.
    • Edmontosaurus annectens is featured briefly, presented as a descendant of Maiasaura. However, there isn't much evidence to support such a relationship between these animals.
    • Tyrannosaurus rex is shown and mentioned as a direct descendent of Daspletosaurus, a fairly popular hypothesis that has recently been called into question with more phylogenetic and biogeographical studies of the tyrannosaur family. Also, the juvenile T. rex is a mini-model of its parent, event though it's now recognized that young tyrannosaurs looked vastly different from the adults, being quite lanky animals with proportionately small heads and narrow jaws.


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