when giant monsters roamed the earth…

If you ever wanted to see dinosaurs fighting for their lives and see their anatomy at work, Clash of the Dinosaurs is the show for you.

Here’s another reason why we should be glad that primates and dinosaurs are separated by tens of millions of years. They were tough. Really tough. Should those hulking brutes somehow share the modern world with us, hunting them would be an extreme sport best done by the military since we’re talking about animals which typically weighed more than a car and covered in hide even anti-tank rounds would have trouble piercing. That seems to be the implied takeaway of Discovery Channels new mini-series Clash of the Dinosaurs. And if you have any doubt about just how menacing the dinosaurs could get, check out this look into a T-Rex’s mouth…

Over the years, there have been plenty of shows that go into anatomical details such as the structure and the function of dinosaur innards as well as some notes about the brains of certain species. However, none have made it front and center, explaining how these immense reptiles moved, sensed the world around them and made life and death decisions. My favorite moment has to be the discussion of a Sauroposeidon’s brain, or to be more exact, it’s near lack of a brain. The fifty ton titan’s senses and cognition were housed in an organ that was roughly the size of a cheeseburger, just a thousandth of its body. In fact, its brain was so small, it needed a secondary nerve center above its pelvis so it could keep track of its hind legs, meaning that the creature was barely smart enough to walk! Just goes to show that high IQ and survival don’t necessarily have to go hand in hand, and how one process can produce an enormous animal with the brainpower of a fly and organisms like humans, dolphins and apes, who understand abstraction, strategize and learn complex skills.

But for all the technical, visual and factual merits of the show, Clash of the Dinosaurs has a slight problem. It constantly reuses a relatively small library of shots, which while beautifully and crisply rendered with the latest in CG apps, do get a little grating after the tenth time you see them repeat in the same episode. If you’re used to the kind of variety and non-stop special effects extravaganza that Walking with Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Beasts, Dinosaurs in America and Before the Dinosaurs offered, adjust your expectations accordingly and get ready to see the same shots of stomping, walking and roaring dinos again and again. Yes, rendering high def animation is expensive and resource intensive but in this case, it would’ve made a big difference.

# evolution // dinosaurs / popular science / tv shows

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