I'm impressed

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I have classmates who understand me when I talk about xenarthrans and amniotes and osteichthyans.

Actually, that didn't have anything to do with what I'm going to be talking about here. There's a kids' show called Dinosaur Train, and it's been on the air for around a year. I've heard good things about it (dml.cmnh.org/2009Dec/msg00310.…) but I've never been able to find any episodes until about three days ago when I did a search for it on Youtube and found someone who was uploading entire episodes in HD. Great! I got to watch a few, but no less than two days after I discovered this treasure trove the copyright laws kicked in and they all got deleted. Why can't I have found this a few months earlier? It's not fair! Fortunately, the owner of the channel claims to be working on a way to get around this, so maybe soon the episodes will be back on the Internet again, at least for a while.

Either way, I have to say I'm rather impressed with this show. The basic premise is that a young Tyrannosaurus is adopted by a family of Pteranodon and they go and meet other types of prehistoric creatures on the time-and-space-traveling Dinosaur Train, which is run by Troodon. It presents a lot of scientific concepts to children, such as making and testing hypotheses, endothermy, dinosaur locomotion (including WAIR), dinosaur clades, geologic changes, heterodonty, adaptations, dinosaur diets, diagnostic features, and even faeces. It doesn't do too much dumbing down, either, words like "quadruped", "carrion", and "theropod" are thrown around frequently. Whenever birds are shown, the show never forgets to point out that birds are theropod dinosaurs. It also contains fairly accurate information on all the different animals that feature. At the end of each episode paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson explains the basic science behind that episode, and a character called Mr. Disclaimer sometimes shows up to point out the more fictitious elements in the show like, "Dinosaurs didn't really play dinoball". (Some dino "documentaries" could really use someone like that. "Diapsids didn't really pee lots of liquid urine." "Sauropods didn't really have two brains." "Small dromaeosaurids couldn't really kill elephant-sized prey." Etc. You know who you are.) This show is more informative and science based than most dino "documentaries" out there! (One concept that Dinosaur Train doesn't discuss, at least directly, is evolution, but this is only because psychological studies indicate really young children aren't able to comprehend evolution.)

Dinosaur Train has a good mix of well-known and slightly more obscure dinosaurs as well as others that fall in between. There are old standbys like Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Brachiosaurus, and Allosaurus, but there's also Confuciusornis, Oryctodromeus, Avisaurus, and Masiakasaurus. I also like how this show doesn't focus only on the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and plesiosaurs. We also get episodes centered on turtles, frogs, mammals, dragonflies, lizards, sharks, hermit crabs, and nautiloids. And they aren't just random turtles, frogs, mammals, lizards, sharks, or nautiloids; much of the time specific taxa are named: Adocus, Proganochelys, Palaeobatrachus, Cimolestes, Paramacellodus, Cretoxyrhina, and Michelinoceras. (For the record, Adocus doesn't even have a Wikipedia page yet! That's saying something.)

If I were to complain about this show it'd be that not all the dinosaur designs are quite as up to date as they should be. The sauropods have their nostril opening on the tops of their heads instead of at the front of the snout. The Troodon, Deinonychus, and Chirostenotes are (as :icontomozaurus: puts it) "half arsed" even though Velociraptor, Microraptor, Archaeopteryx, and Confuciusornis have a full feather coat. (We do meet some northern Troodon which have much more extensive plumage than the regular Troodon on the show, but even then they aren't completely feathered.) Also, the pterosaurs are bipedal, have scaly skin, and have wings shaped somewhat like those of bats (even though the finger configuration is correct), which is rather jarring when the many of the main characters are Pteranodon.

I have a few more additional comments. The extremely colorful 3D animation looks good on many of the dinosaurs, but I find that the one mammal character, a Cimolestes, falls into the Uncanny Valley. Every single strand of hair is visible, which makes her look out of place compared with the other, less detailed, characters, and the big glassy eyes look creepy. The show puts a strange spin on the No Cartoon Fish trope. It doesn't pretend predation doesn't exist (the different dietary habits of the various animals are often discussed), but predation never occurs on screen except to arbitrary actinopterygians and small insects. (By the way, I was amused to see "unidentified common brown fish" listed as one of the animals in the show on the Wikipedia article for Dinosaur Train: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur… These editors are really thorough, aren't they?) It also happens at least once to a mammal, but we don't really get to see that. (A northern Troodon talks about the different animals that live up in the Arctic, and he mentions mammals. "Like that guy," he says, pointing to the trunk of a tree, and immediately grabs something from the tree and eats it.) Remember, even hermit crabs and nautiloids are sentient here, but there's yet to be a visibly sentient actinopterygian. Otherwise, the carnivores are always seen eating carrion. Presumably they go out of their way not to eat anyone they personally know... on screen, at least.
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Comments42
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SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Is it just me, or did Buddy call Iguanodon a theropod in Dinosaurs A to Z?
Albertonykus's avatar
No idea; haven't seen that one.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Nitpicks aside, I would've killed for this show as a kid (but speaking as someone who was raised on Stanley and Henry's Amazing Animals, who am I to complain?).
prower42's avatar
:iconbrohugplz:
All of my feels, bro!
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
"It also happens at least once to a mammal, but we don't really get to see that."

An adult Tyrannosaurus character also does it to a lizard.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Ah yes, another pterosaur nitpick... In the recent Saurornitholestes episode, the Conductor claims the Pteranodons are cold-blooded!
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Would that even count as a "nitpick" per se?
Albertonykus's avatar
Probably not, ha.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
I don't know how that "drawing" thing showed upon the middle of my comment...
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
After my comments, I have to agree with everyone else on how good this show is. I'm moving into Ontario and this show takes up a good hunk of my recording space. In fact, it's only made me face palm once. It was in the Lesothosaurus diagnosticus episode. The Conductor showed how lepidopterans, squamates and pygostylians use camouflage, to which Buddy responds, "But none of those are dinosaurs!"


Ouch.



Ah well, at least it's only one face palm-worthy scene. As I pointed out in your Clash of the Neornithines, Dino Dan has several.
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Albertonykus's avatar
I haven't seen that episode, but that's certainly unusual for this show.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Unusual in a bad way, you mean?
Albertonykus's avatar
Unusual as in out of the ordinary. In this case I suppose it does come with negative connotations.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
What is meant by "negative connotations"?
Albertonykus's avatar
It's just a way of saying, "Yes, you can say that 'unusual' is intended to be a negative trait in this case."
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
...you sound depressed.
Albertonykus's avatar
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Well, you could nix the opening statement and first paragraph.
Albertonykus's avatar
I did, and there were still 700+ words left. I've finally managed to get it down to the right length. (It doesn't help that TV Tropes appears to count every six characters as a "word", so even things like punctuation marks need to be used sparingly. It's kind of ridiculous to be honest.)
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Good review on the other site, but please reword the Chirostenotes part. It implies the creature is a deinonychosaur.

Say, you should get your documentary and Maniraptor Movie reviews on Tv Tropes!
Albertonykus's avatar
Fixed.

Ha, those would be even harder to fit into the word limit.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Never mind, I just saw what you did.
SpongeBobFossilPants's avatar
Related note: If you can get this thing on Tv Tropes' review system, you should!
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