AppleTV+ “Prehistoric Planet” shows a very different side to the once mighty predator – a tender, affectionate side.
Wednesday’s episode of the five-night docuseries (airing new episodes through Friday), continues its rare natural take on life in the Cretaceous with a T-Rex mating scene at the snout.
“Movies and TV shows have portrayed them in action-packed activities,” says paleontologist Darren Naish, who worked as a consultant on “Prehistoric Planet” to ensure that on-screen depictions of the T- Rex and other vintage animals were accurate. “But they had to do all the other things necessary – meet other members of their species, socialize with them, breed with them.”
It’s all family and educational in the dinosaur series, created by the BBC’s Natural History Unit (“Planet Earth”).
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Working with producer Jon Favreau and the team that created the photorealistic visual effects used in films like ‘The Lion King’, the series shows the now-extinct creatures as if a film crew shot them 66 million years ago. of years.
Renowned British naturalist commentator David Attenborough adds to the weight of natural history with his narration, illuminating the courtship ritual of the T-Rex. The scene begins with an older male T-Rex, injured after fighting a Triceratops, encountering a female by a river.
The meeting could lead either to a fight or to a fantasy. But the male shows a courtship posture and emits a low-frequency vocalization to the receptive female. This behavior, like many depictions of “prehistoric planet” dinosaurs, is derived from phylogenetic bracketing – studying the living family tree of the extinct dinosaur, from birds to crocodiles and alligators.
“We have scientific reasons to be very confident about this behavior,” Naish says. “We discussed this behind the scenes in the most detail, preparing for this. So in terms of exactly what to show, we knew exactly what was going on. And this is the first time people will see this type of behavior realistically, from a natural background story.”
The two snuggle with their muzzles, an act derived from a 2017 report in the newspaper Scientific reports this shows that the T-Rex’s muzzle “was more sensitive than human fingertips”. This was helpful in many areas, including courtship, in which tyrannosaurids “could have rubbed their sensitive faces together as a vital part of pre-copulatory play,” according to the journal.
“It’s like a T-Rex kiss,” says series producer Tim Walker.
The scene fades to the tyrannosaur pair retreating to a jungle clearing, a true tropical location. The series features many stunning backgrounds with the dinosaurs created virtually in a way that mimics real photography.
In this mating scene, it helps that the foreground includes strategically placed tropical trees for family viewing (and couple privacy).
“The target audience for this series is absolutely everyone,” says Walker. “We don’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities. We want to make a clear representation of the natural world.”
“Prehistoric Planet” presents other fascinating and extremely diverse mating rituals.
The scaphite ammonite’s mating sequence shows males and females coming together in a brilliant light show depicting mating success in the sea. But the dazzling display is short-lived. Science shows that modern cephalopods – a group that includes these extinct sea creatures – die after mating, so the filmmakers recreated the mass mortalities of ammonites washed up on a real shore. Previously, this was only visible in the fossil record.
The pterosaur Barbaridactylus’ mating ritual offers comic relief with a “sneaky” male pretending to be a female in order to escape the larger, jealously protective, enormously crested male. Walker says it’s a common behavior, ensuring the gene pool is self-perpetuating so it’s not just one male that breeds.
“It’s a scientifically accurate term called ‘sneaky male strategy,’ which makes audiences laugh when we project it,” Walker says, adding that audiences love it. “This sequence turns out to be one of the most popular in the series, while touching on a delicate scientific subject.”