Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reign of the Dinosaurs

Above: Promo image via Slashfilm.

Man, I picked the wrong time to move out of San Diego.

At Comic Con this Friday, Discovery Channel is hosting a panel consisting of artists who are working on a new show called Reign of the Dinosaurs, a Walking With Dinosaurs style drama/documentary being produced by a company called Creative Differences, including several former Pixar animators (some initial reports erroneously said Pixar itself was producing the show). It's currently scheduled to debut in 2011. Scott Hartman announced this on the DML today, and I'm assuming this is the project he's been waxing mysterious about on the message boards lately. Along with Scott, the project is working closely with several notable artists including paleoart/sculpture god David Krentz (and it sounds like he's even getting his mosasaur sequence so heinously excised from the aborted, naturalistic version of Disney's Dinosaur).

In my opinion these kind of top grade dinosaur shows need to happen at least once per decade, for the good of humanity (or just my personal sanity). WWD was hugely influential, but it's now 11 years old so it's also hugely outdated. Many casual paleo fans may not be aware of this, and a good high-profile TV special like this can help inject some new discoveries into the public consciousness the way press releases on the AP via Google News just can't. Looking at the talent involved, it would take some MAJOR intentional meddling to screw up the accuracy of this show. Just reading the press release, found here, is getting me amped for this thing, especially assuming it follows the WWD pattern of featuring one ecological community per episode. You've got the old standbys like T. rex and Therizinosaurus (though it is kind of amazing Therizinosaurus can be considered an old standby these days), but it also promises to feature a "giant, dinosaur eating frog" (i.e. Beelzebufo, and presumably the rest of the LK Malagasy fauna like Rahonavis and Masiakasaurs, all of which have never appeared in animated form as far as I know, except maybe on Dinosaur Train), and, get this:

A "Jurassic flying squirrel."

Hear that? That's Volaticotherium. We're getting the bloody Daohugou Biota on TV. Castorocauda, Scansoriopteryx, Tianyulong, Darwinopterus, Anchiornis, and Daohugocorixa (though maybe I'm the only one excited about that last one). Eat it, Yixian. Though there does appear to be a Caudipteryx on the promo poster, so maybe we're getting both? A man can dream...

Oh, and given the Allosaurus featured on the poster and the involvement of Scott Hartman, could this be the first television appearance of a certain Morrison formation troodontid?

I'm hoping the ComiCon panel will show up on YouTube, and I'll report any further details that may get leaked.


  1. A well-executed show with Daohugou will be the best thing ever. So will a well-executed show with Yixian. A well-executed show with both will radiate such epic awesome it'll cause spontaneous combustion.

    Taking into account all the dino shows from the past few years, this one sounds very promising. That was an understatement.

  2. It's going to be awesome.

    Great post, thanks!

  3. Oh, the Morrison is SO overdone. Expect the Late Jurassic to be represented by a different fauna... :-)

  4. This reminds me of Walking with Dinosaurs at MSG. I really can't wait for it to start. My Kids are flipping out, but I found a pretty good fix to hold them over. We've been getting our dino names over at Mine came out as Jeff Juicy-asaurus haha.

  5. Umm I hate to be a downer here but according to Wiki Tianyulong, Anchiornis, and Darwinopterus (among others) are actually known from the Tiaojishan formation. Fortunately the Tiaojishan is actually similar in age to the Daohugo (they correlate basically) so it is likely that their perspective faunas will crossover.

  6. @Eric:

    The precise identity of the Daohugou *bed* is still up in the air, but it may well be a sub-unit of the Tiaojishan Formation, as they're about the same age as you noted and both faunas are considered part of the Daohugou *biota* according to most recent papers. Certainly, depicting Epidexipteryx and Anchiornis as contemporaries would be less of an anachronism than say, Mei and Microraptor, at least.

  7. FWIW Matt, this is NOT the project I've ever spoken about in terms of any specifics...that's a different (non-media) project. On media projects I don't say a damned thing until told/asked too, as there's marketing across multiple corporations to worry about.

    Still, now that the initial reveal is out of the way, I'll say that it looks like it's going to be all sorts of awesome.

  8. This ended up as dinosaur revolution didnt it?