Attenborough series bites hard into the fruits of the “dinosaur revolution” | Dinosaurs
A “dinosaur revolution” is underway with a new species being discovered every week, say the creators of a groundbreaking new docuseries exploring life on Earth 66 million years ago.
Prehistoric Planet, produced by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and premiering on Apple TV on Monday, is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and features original music composed by multiple Oscar winner Hans Zimmer.
The show brings together huge names from across the industry, including executive producers Jon Favreau, who has been involved in a string of Hollywood blockbusters including the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and Mike Gunton, whose previous credits include the Bafta- and Emmy-winning documentary Planet. Earth II.
Gunton told the Guardian that the five-part series combines wildlife filmmaking, the latest discoveries in paleontology and cutting-edge CGI technology to recreate the dinosaurs that inhabited Earth, in a one-of-a-kind immersive experience.
“The Late Cretaceous is an amazing world that we haven’t turned our natural history cameras on,” he said. “It was an incredibly diverse and rich period of life. We tend to be very focused on today, but the animals that lived in those days were complex and sophisticated creatures. They were wonderful and miraculous.
Darren Naish, the show’s consulting paleontologist, said it was the perfect time to make a show that explored dinosaur life, including the relationships between them.
“What’s critical is that we’re in the midst, right now, of a dinosaur revolution,” he said. “Since the 1990s, there has been a huge increase in the number of new species discovered, with approximately one new species of dinosaur discovered every week. That’s over 50 a year. No one can follow that. »
In China, Naish said, researchers have found soft tissue on dinosaur remains – skin, feathers, fossil eyeballs and fossil lungs. This, combined with modern technology, enables new approaches to the biology, behavior and evolutionary history of creatures, he said.
“For example, T rexes had to court to make babies, but how did they actually cross the court?”
For the series, they used a technique called phylogenetic bracketing, which takes into account the family tree of animals.
“For a dinosaur like Tyrannosaurus, it is surrounded on one side by crocodiles and alligators and on the other by birds, which are living dinosaurs. You look at what is present in these species and if there are any similarities, you can reasonably infer that for your extinct animal as well.
The more we learn about the past, he said, the better we can understand the present and the future.
“All scientific actors are aware of the climate crisis and the human impact on the planet. You can say the particular things that made the Cretaceous world what it was, like high CO2 levels, loads more water vapor into the atmosphere, therefore higher sea levels and less ice, this is the world we are currently creating by our own actions.
“It was great for dinosaurs and marine reptiles. The sea level was several tens of meters higher, all low-lying coastal areas like all of Western Europe were flooded, North America was cut in two by a sea.”
Gunton said the fact that creatures as extraordinary as dinosaurs are no longer with us is sobering.
“It reminds us of the fragility of the planet, which we hold by the end of our fingers because mother nature is much more powerful. It also reminds you of the resilience of the planet. As one door closes, another opens in an evolutionary way,” he said.
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