Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

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#SteveReviews: Prehistoric Planet

It was going to come sooner or later, wasn’t it? I’m sorry it took me so long to getting around to write this, but with my PhD thesis deadline looming, I’ve had bigger fish to fry! For those of you that have been living under a rock (I don’t blame you given recent world affairs), Prehistoric Planet was a 5 part series that launched on Apple+ for five evenings from the 23rd May. Each episode focussed on a different habitat, and the dinosaurs (and other prehistoric animals) that lived within them. If that wasn’t enough, the series was narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and contains the most up-to-date depictions of dinosaurs we’ve seen in a while. Using my skills to avoid the spoilers (the same ones I instinctively use whenever a new Marvel film drops), I waited until the dust had settled, before deciding to watch the series myself. This wasn’t easy, given the fact that for almost a week, #PrehistoricPlanet was trending on Twitter. It was well worth the wait though!

One of the things I love about this series (other than the story telling), is the sheer quality of the photo-realistic prehistoric animals. It is hard to tell at parts, which modern day animals (which have been used as a stand-in) are real or not, among the most life-like digital representation of extinct reptiles I think we’ll see for a while. I am convinced that MPC the studio that dealt with the special effects, just kleptoparasised the combined CPU and GPU power of most of the western world in order to be able to render such high quality and life-like videos in 4K. Perhaps mining for cryptocurrency is a lie, perhaps it has all been leading up to this? Bitcoin was introduced at about the same time that development on this series began (based on a tweet from Steve Brusatte). Coincidence? I’ll let you decide!

Given how popular the series has been, it is very clear that the general public have an appetite for landmark palaeontological series such as this one. Hopefully, it means that we’ll see a 2nd season in the not too distant future! Hats off to Dr Darren Naish and the other scientific consultants for the series, as there is a whole bunch of up-to-date science included with Prehistoric Planet that puts the Jurassic World franchise to shame. Everything feels organic, despite most of it likely being dependent on a green screen. You not only get to learn more about the lives of long-extinct animals, you get to go on a journey with them too. Unfortunately, this is the part of modern-day documentaries that I feel is lacking from other series focussed on extant species. The reason being, is that we’ve pretty much covered the charismatic fauna to death, and no one wants to take a risk with the lesser know/appreciated species. Just look how long it took for The Green Planet to be produced, following The Private Life of Plants – almost 30 years!

The great thing with Prehistoric Planet is that it’s name, and the history of life, are almost infinite. If there is a 2nd season (and I hope there is), it could be focussed on the Cambrian, or Carboniferous periods, instead of the late Cretaceous as the first season has. With that, make sure you give it a watch when you can, you won’t be dissapointed!

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