The prehistoric age has been stuck in a cultural rut since Jurassic Park. As a palaeontologist, I’m glad to see this era is over
The utterly extraordinary Prehistoric Planet has returned this week for a second season and, as a palaeontologist, I remain utterly enthralled by the whole thing. You might think I’d be spoiled for choice with the apparently unending parade of movies, video games and documentaries featuring animated dinosaurs, but this programme stands head and shoulders above anything else in terms of the accuracy of its animals and the naturalism they evoke.
The jump from Ray Harryhausen classics such as One Million Years BC in the mid-1960s to Jurassic Park in 1993 was massive. Jurassic Park showed dinosaurs in a new way to vast audiences and ushered in a new wave of interest and representation, most notably in the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series in 1999. However, 30 years on, most dinosaurs in mainstream film and TV still follow its look and feel, despite our scientific understanding of dinosaurs and their contemporaries having advanced enormously since then. Prehistoric Planet is as much, if not more, of a leap forward in showing dinosaurs as we think they really were.
Dr David Hone is a reader in zoology at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in dinosaurs and pterosaurs. He blogs at Archosaur Musings, and presents the Terrible Lizards podcast. His latest book is The Future of DinosaursContinue reading...