‘Raising the Dinosaur Giant’ on PBS

Category: Television


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When you think of dinosaurs, you probably don’t think of something this big. In 2013 a shepherd in Argentina discovered a bone and called the authorities. When they explored this find, they discovered the bones of a rather large dinosaur. The excavation and study of this huge animal is the focus of the documentary Raising the Dinosaur Giant on PBS.

Sir David Attenborough narrates this amazing story. Attenborough, the brother of actor Richard Attenborough, is a lover of nature and history. Coincidentally, his brother starred in the film Jurassic Park, which was brought up at a press conference. “It’s just a coincidence that my brother should have taken the part of a paleontologist. He didn’t base it on me, but he based it on some of the paleontologists that I know,” explained Attenborough with a trace of whimsy.

This is a fascinating documentary for anyone interested in the history of this planet and dinosaurs in particular. The find in South America is the largest dinosaur ever discovered. It’s part of the plant-eating family known as “titanosaurs” and the excavation of this area where the first bone was discovered by chance yielded some incredible findings.

Dr. Diego Pol, Chief Paleontologist at MEF Museum in Patagonia, Argentina, explained, “These findings are very special because it is the first time we have a fairly complete skeleton of a giant dinosaur. So we have found over 200 bones of this animal. It’s a brand new species, and this represents about 70 percent of the skeleton, and that is pretty much what you need to really understand these animals as living organisms.”

What this film shows viewers is not only the excavation of the bones, but also how the dinosaur compares with animals living today. The thighbone is eight feet long. When they put the rest of the 70 percent of this animal together, they discovered the weight of the dinosaur was about 70 metric tons which is equal to 15 African elephants. This particular find produced the largest animal on the planet to date.

To put the skeleton together they used 3-D scanning to create replicas of the actual bones. That, along with CGI and animation, gives viewers a pretty good idea of this huge dinosaur that lived over a hundred million years ago. In fact, these particular bones were dated to 101.6 million years ago!
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The excitement about this discovery is apparent with those involved in the excavation and this film. “The first time we went to the site when a rancher indicated to us that he had found some bones, we started to uncover a really, really large bone,” Dr. Pol told the media. “It was a femur, the thigh bone. So it was after three days working there we realized that this was probably the largest dinosaur bone ever found. That was a very special moment.” Attenborough was also excited about this discovery, which is evident in the film. He was enthusiastic as he told the media, “It is thrilling, and to be there when it’s being discovered is a great thrill… So I had a ball. I just enjoyed myself every second of it while I was there.”

As viewers see in this film, to understand how this dinosaur moved and lived is not simple. They studied how elephants today carry such large weight on their bodies. This is one of many interesting ways the scientists learned about the life and anatomy of this large titanosaur.

What is also amazing about this film is how complete the discovery was. They found a large area covered with dinosaur eggshells and even an egg with an embryo inside. That was able to tell the scientists what a titanosaur skin looked like which they used to create a complete and most accurate animation of the dinosaur.

“Dinosaurs lived in every continent and especially titanosaurs, the family to which the new species belongs, was in all continents, including Antarctica, so Africa, South America, North America, Asia. They were really conquering the entire planet for millions and millions of years,” explained Pol. The discovery off this new species is one more piece of the puzzle of the history of the planet.

This documentary provides the most accurate look at the life of the titanosaur on the planet 100 million years ago and how many of today’s animals mimic those huge dinosaurs. Raising the Dinosaur Giant premiers on PBS’ Nature February 17, 2016.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

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