Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dinosaurs are cool

I'm sure I've said this before, but palaeontology is cool. At least, it seems so to an amateur like me. It appears to combine the interesting elements of archaeology and biology and require both scientific rigour and a great deal of creative thinking to produce anything like a detailed picture of the remote past and the lives of the animals who were around then. My eldest daughter is quite a fan, in particular, of Dr Phil Currie of the University of Alberta. Mostly, this is because she has seen him (in fact, has repeatedly watched him) in an excellent BBC Horizon documentary (transcript here) on the odd world of the Cretaceous period in Patagonia -- where enormous Giganotosauruses (like a T-Rex but even bigger and with serrated knife-like teeth rather than thick bone-crushing T-Rex teeth) took on enormous Argentinosauruses (like a Diplodocus but bigger). Just like in the films! Apparently, T-Rex itself had to make do with eating Triceratops and the like because there weren't any big sauropods around in its time in North America.

Horizon did a great doc on these finds, including Currie's hypothesis that the large tyrannosaurids hunted in packs (you thought one was scary!) and it inspired my little girl to produce this picture of a pack of Giganotosauruses taking on a spotty Argentinosaurus. I did ask about the spots, but was told in no uncertain terms that since we don't really know what colour dinosaurs were she could do whatever she liked. Fair enough. I reckon this one has just about had it, though, spots or not.

There is a good Walking with Dinosaurs-style BBC programme on this stuff showing Nigel Marven trying to track down these beasts, but we had to order a DVD from America (which also includes the original Horizon documentary) and our DVD player can't cope with it. So we had to use the PC upstairs. But come on, BBC, why limit the fun to people in the US? Release it here as well!

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