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Western Animation / 64,000,000 Years Ago

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64,000,000 Years Ago is a 1981 Stop Motion animated short directed by Bill Maylone for the National Film Board of Canada.

The film revolves around the lives of North American dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous period, through the eyes of an early mammal trying to survive.

The NFB has made the short available on their official Youtube channel.


The film provides examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: If we're to take the short's title at face value, then it places the date of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event a full one to two million years after it occurred in Real Life. On the other hand, all species in the short are from Late Maastrichtian North America.
  • Aquatic Hadrosaurs: The educational short film was made before the idea was discredited, and it depicts Edmontosaurus with webbed feet, paddle-like tails, duckbilled snouts, and fleeing from a Tyrannosaurus by diving into water (as though there were some unwritten law that Tyrannosaurus would sink like a rock).
  • End of an Era: As the dinosaurs die off, the mammal emerges to dominate the Earth.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: This being the end of the Cretaceous period, only the mammal is left standing by the end of the film.
  • Evil Egg Eater: An Ornithomimus is caught eating eggs by a mother Triceratops, who proceeds to violently impale it with her horn.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Despite being aimed at children, the short contains some surprisingly violent scenes.
    • First, when the mother Triceratops catches the Ornithomimus eating her eggs, she impales it on her horn. The poor creature screams and writhes in agony as it dies, at which point the Triceratops scrapes the corpse off.
    • Later, after failing to take down an Ankylosaurus and a mother Triceratops, the Tyrannosaurus bites and suffocates an Edmontosaurus, though the actual eating is cut away from.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While the actual killing is shown in all its glory, the scene fades to black before the Tyrannosaurus can actually start eating the Edmontosaurus.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: An Ornithomimus ends up being skewered on the horn of a Triceratops after she catches it raiding her nest.
  • Last of His Kind: At the very end, we see the death of the last Tyrannosaurus as the dinosaurs succumb to extinction.
  • Mama Bear:
    • The mother Triceratops not only successfully fights of a Tyrannosaurus attack, but she also kills an Ornithomimus trying to eat her eggs (the mammal avoids the same fate by scurrying off before she can be spotted).
    • The mammal has to survive not only for herself, but her offspring as well.
  • Meek Mesozoic Mammal: The documentary short centres around a primitive mammal (possibly a Purgatorius or Mesodma) surviving at the end of the Late Cretaceous. Even the smallest dinosaur shown, the Ornithomimus is a threat to it, and the narrator states how the dominance of the dinosaurs prevents mammals from growing larger or diversifying beyond tiny insect-eaters cowering in their shadows.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The short doesn't show or explain why the dinosaurs became extinct, only that they did. This is because the idea that dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid strike had only just been proposed, and did not gain widespread acceptance until the 1990s.
  • Roar Before Beating: The Tyrannosaurus does this repeatedly, giving its prey the chance to mount a defence or flee to safety (which is of course the reason real predators don't do that).
  • Temper-Ceratops: The mother Triceratops kills the Ornithomimus for attacking her nest and battles the Tyrannosaurus.
  • Terrifying Tyrannosaur: Downplayed. While the herbivorous dinosaurs understandably treat the Tyrannosaurus with fear and hostility, it's not the unstoppable juggernaut of destruction it's usually portrayed as. It actually loses its fights against the Triceratops and Ankylosaurus, and only succeeds in preying upon an Edmontosaurus through a combination of luck and good timing. This is arguably more realistic than many examples of this trope, since predators in Real Life often come out on the losing side when faced with particularly large or well-armed prey items, and even less dangerous prey will frequently escape if circumstances aren't on the predator's side.
  • Tough Armored Dinosaur: The Ankylosaurus is shown being able to easily fend off the Tyrannosaurus with one well-aimed tail club to the face. The non-armoured Edmontosaurus does not fare quite as well.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: After spending the entire short fleeing or hiding from dinosaurs, at the end, all the dinosaurs have become extinct, but the little mammal has outlasted them all.

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