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Lion and Sabertooth by WDGHK Lion and Sabertooth :iconwdghk:WDGHK 66 12
Literature
You Know Sixs A Crowd, Right? VII
"Luan, my tummy`s hurtin`...." Lana whined from across the table. They had just managed to get their inebriated father to go to sleep, though not before watching him sob drunkenly and express his regrets, not just for losing his temper with Lynn, but also about his belief about being an awful parent and husband following his family`s string of misfortune.
Hearing it was heart-wrenching for the girls, and Luan knew that she would have to have a serious discussion with her father about his own insecurities, maybe with Lincoln`s help. But that would have to wait. It was only now that the sisters realized how they hadn't eaten anything all day long.
"I`m sorry Lana, but you know I`m not much of a cook, but don't worry, I`ve ordered a large pizza for all of us." Luan reassured her.
"We sure were lucky that I found enough spare change to even pay for one." she commented further while grabbing a single apple from a bowl.
"But when`s it gonna come? I can't wait anymore!" the tomboy complained
:iconWDGHK:WDGHK
:iconwdghk:WDGHK 6 0
Surprise! by WDGHK Surprise! :iconwdghk:WDGHK 70 47 Charles Dawson and the First Englishman by WDGHK Charles Dawson and the First Englishman :iconwdghk:WDGHK 27 8 Pterosaur Hunter by WDGHK Pterosaur Hunter :iconwdghk:WDGHK 60 18 Beached Banquet by WDGHK Beached Banquet :iconwdghk:WDGHK 64 12 Mysterysaur : Betasuchus by WDGHK Mysterysaur : Betasuchus :iconwdghk:WDGHK 53 2 El Clasico Tigre Dientes De Sable by WDGHK El Clasico Tigre Dientes De Sable :iconwdghk:WDGHK 57 14 No Sense of Scale by WDGHK No Sense of Scale :iconwdghk:WDGHK 20 17
Literature
You Know Sixs A Crowd, Right? VI
At the Loud apartment, Lynn Sr. was sitting at the kitchen table. Lucy was sitting in front of him, with Luan, Lana and Lisa by her side.
The man had just finished sipping down a glass of wine. In the past, he would have usually avoided alcoholic beverages, but ever since his divorce he was forced to find some means to numb the stress that would trail him on a nearly weekly basis. But what he had learned today was far worse than overly long business hours.
First, he got a call during the middle of work from Principle Huggins, informing him that his son had gotten into a fight. Of course, he wasn't in a position to come to the principles office like he had been asked to, so he had to wait and confront his son about it back home.
Though knowing his son and knowing who he had fought with made him quite sure that Lincoln hadn't started the fight, or that he must have had a very good reason for snapping at Chandler.
Lynn wasn't sure if his son should face some sort of disciplinary retributi
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:iconwdghk:WDGHK 4 1
Triple Terror of the Tethys by WDGHK Triple Terror of the Tethys :iconwdghk:WDGHK 55 12 Southern Tyrant by WDGHK Southern Tyrant :iconwdghk:WDGHK 64 23 The Assassination of King Simba the First by WDGHK The Assassination of King Simba the First :iconwdghk:WDGHK 9 17 Taylor`s Ninja Cyber Heist by WDGHK Taylor`s Ninja Cyber Heist :iconwdghk:WDGHK 14 1 GET OVER IT! by WDGHK GET OVER IT! :iconwdghk:WDGHK 24 23 March of the Dinosaurs Cartoony Quetzalcoatlus by WDGHK March of the Dinosaurs Cartoony Quetzalcoatlus :iconwdghk:WDGHK 20 11

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Part one: Terror of the Deep: Queensland Killer

Part two: Terror of the Deep: Plesiosaur Nursery


At the crack of dawn, the sunbeams rise over the canopy of the coastal forests of northern Queensland. The quiet and peaceful scenery soon comes to life with the loud vocalizations of multiple male Mythunga.

These large pterosaurs each find an exclusive spot to stand proud and tall, usually on a cliff ledge or high rock, where they release a series of noisy caws lasting for hours to attract females.

The females gather on a large flat island of rock close to shore, grooming themselves before going off to hunt on the open ocean, where the numerous males also appear in hopes to attract their attention.

The Mythunga usually rely on display and vocalization, but as more and more of them come together scuffles soon erupt. Males hiss and snap their jaws at one another, trying to scare each other off.

The large male from before comes soaring in, with his 16-foot wingspan he glides gracefully on the air current before landing on the rock.

His size alone quickly intimidates the younger males and he caws loudly to establish his dominance. He`s a seasoned veteran and has fathered four generations of Mythunga along this coast.

His large size is a testimony to the females of his healthy genes. As one female finishes gulping down a fish he starts mounting her.

Below, other Mythunga dive beneath the waves, bursting through schools of fish and snatching one. Their head breaks the surface followed by their wings.

Once they have a fish they waste little time getting airborne before swallowing it. With giant marine reptiles patrolling these waters they must minimize their time in it as much as possible.

While chasing the fish they are joined underwater by a pod of polycotylids.

With their fragile jaws, these 10-foot plesiosaurs are of little threat to the large flying reptiles. Like dolphins they attack the schools of fish from different sides, herding them together and pushing them towards the surface which is also beneficial to the pterosaurs.

But the feeding frenzy doesn't last for long.

One polycotylid, having eaten its fill, swims down towards two rock formations forming a wide and long underwater gorge. Our Kronosaurus emerges from its murky depths, his massive form sending the little polycotylid swimming for its life.

The giant pliosaur isn't interested in chasing it, polycotylids are usually too fast for him unless he can take them by surprise.

The rest of the pod scatters upon seeing him. Above the flocks of pterosaur screech in panic upon noticing him, alerting the ones in the water that something is wrong.

Thrashing in the water, the Mythunga spread their wings and fly away as the Kronosaurus` huge head erupts on the water`s surface.

He blows out a massive amount of air through his nostrils, which are located close to his eyes, before taking a huge gulp of air and diving back down.

He`s heading back towards the nursery. There, in the lagoon, countless tiny Eromangasaurus are now swimming along its bottom.

Their mothers remain there, in order to recuperate their strength. Soon they'll be heading back into the dangers of the open ocean. Hunger will compel many of them to leave soon enough.

Not far away, the Kronosaurus is waiting. Hungry, he remains frustrated, for the moment.

...........................

Back inland another creature is feeling nature`s calling. Near a floodplain, loud trumpeting calls are heard everywhere.

The herd of Muttaburrasaurus has gathered to feed on the cycad plants growing around it.

But food isn't the only thing on their minds. Bull Muttaburrasaurus move through the herd, vocalizing and inflating small red sacks from their noses, akin to bladder-nosed seals. This is all display to attract the opposite gender.

The bulky, bipedal ornithopods honk and trumpet proudly and shake their heads while showing off their scarlet nasal sacks, both to the females, and rival males.

Confrontations between Muttaburrasaurus are rarely violent, it's all about showing off and the females usually select their preferred mate.

The male will then follow her for hours and try to mount her as much as possible. As with most large dinosaurs, mating is a dangerous procedure for the females as she has to endure the bull`s hefty 3-ton bulk on top of her.

However, now the herd has to contend with a new worry.

The Rapator brothers have been following the rhabdodonts and split up to circle and inspect the herd. One of them steps through the knee-deep water as the herbivores glare at him, grunting, honking and stomping the ground as they edge closer to one another.

A full-grown, healthy Muttaburrasaurus is more than a match for the brothers, multiple individuals flanking one another as essentially untouchable. Emitting a low growl, the theropod keeps studying the herd, looking for any vulnerable target.

Ultimately, he and his brother intend to create panic and single out any youngsters or older and weaker animals. He keeps growling and making mock lunges at the herd, but the Muttaburrasaurus stand their ground.

The other Rapator runs parallel to the other side of the herd, scaring them into moving, but they remain close together. The predator halts and roars, forcing the ornithopods to change direction. He dogs the herd roaring and growling to stir panic.

Bellowing, a huge bull suddenly breaks free and charges the predator. The Rapator retreats as the massive Muttaburrasaurus chases him over the shallow water. His brother runs behind the Muttaburrasaurus, prompting him to turn and charge at him.

The brothers hassle the giant, but it becomes apparent that he's more than a match for them. He stands tall and bellows as he continues chasing the lanky predators.

The brothers distance themselves from the angry bull and continue harassing the herd from both sides. One of the brothers roars at the front of the herd only to be charged at by an adult female.

He retreats and watches the Muttaburrasaurus move towards the forest, but they don't go in single line and unintentionally scatter into smaller groups.

The Rapator then spots something, a 2-ton adolescent female Muttaburrasaurus at the very end of one group heading towards the woods.

Boldly, he sprints after them and lunges at her to separate her. The Muttaburrasaurus backs away as the predator growls and advances towards her. She tries to run when the other Rapator runs at her and leaps onto her back.

She squeals in agony as the megaraptor hooks his claws into her back and bites into her neck. Nearly toppling over, she runs and the Rapator falls over.

With deep gashes, she tries to run but the other predator runs up to her and blocks her path. She tries to stand to her full height and bellows loudly but the predator isn't intimidated. Bruised, but otherwise unharmed, his brother recovers and blindsides her.

Attacking her side, he rips through her skin with his fearsome claws and bites out a small chunk of flesh. Squealing, the Muttaburrasaurus swings her tail but the Rapator swiftly dodges it. His brother seizes the chance and attacks her neck.

Securing a death grip around it, he bites into it, his knife-like teeth tearing through skin and muscles. The other one hooks his claws on her flank, helping his brother to hold her and wrestle her to the ground.

He bites off another chunk from her side. The struggle doesn't last for long before the youngster topples over. It's over for her.

Witnessing this, the herd calms down. Growing quiet, they slowly start moving away. The loss of one of their own means that the threat is over for the rest.

............................................

An hour later, we find only one Rapator still feeding on the partially consumed, fly-ridden corpse of the Muttaburrasaurus, tearing off small chunks and swallowing them whole.

His brother has retreated to the shade of a palm tree to rest, away from the intense midday sun. The other soon eats his fill and joins his sleeping sibling in the shade to lie down and rest.

A smaller carnivore has been watching them. The female Kakuru has been waiting for this moment for hours. She waits another half hour to make sure that the other Rapator is asleep. She has failed to make a kill since last night and is now resorting to more daring measures.

She slowly and stealthy advances towards the kill. But she's not the only scavenger drawn by the smell of an easy meal. Flocks of pterosaurs have been circling the scene for over an hour, now they are tired of waiting.

Medium-sized, with 12-foot wingspans, several of these pterodactyloids land on all fours and start digging into the corpse.

They have dark pycnofibers covering their bodies, but mostly naked heads, and wrinkly necks covered in pale pink skin with a yellowish band above their grey, broad beaks which grow narrower towards the tip where all of their sharp teeth are confined.

These are istiodactylids, expert scavengers and the vultures of the Cretaceous. Like their avian counterparts, they are messy eaters and not afraid to stand up to small terrestrial predators, as the Kakuru finds out as she has to squabble with the hissing and nippy pterosaurs while trying to grab her share.

She bites out a decently-sized hunk of meat while trying to ignore the hostile company. But the noise soon wakes up the owners of the kill.

Loud roars, and the istiodactylids fly away. Panicking, the Kakuru holds on to the meat as the two Rapator run at her. Holding it in her jaws she bolts towards the forest as the megaraptors stop at the kill roaring at the top of their lungs. Luckily for her, they`re too tired to give chase.

Having gotten away with a decent meal, she runs into the forest.

The brothers start dragging their kill closer to their resting place to keep a closer eye on it. Soaring above, the istiodactylids will have to wait for them to leave.

......................................................

Back on the coast, large numbers of Eromangasaurus are moving through the open waters eagerly looking for prey. The starved long-necked elasmosaurs are still in a weakened state and require nutrition. This also places them in a much more vulnerable position. They won't be as quick to react as usual.

Down below them, the massive form of the Kronosaurus emerges. Propelling himself upwards with his long flippers, the 11-ton leviathan zeroes in on a group of Eromangasaurus.

Selecting a target, he opens his powerful jaws and within a second they clamp down on the Eromangasaurus` neck, sending her companions tumbling through the water as the pliosaur pushes them out of the way swimming upwards with his prey dangling from his jaws.

His head erupts from the waves with the Eromangasaurus held tightly in his jaws. Once they plummet back into the water he shakes her violently and in no time bites her in half.

Her head and part of her neck start sinking to the bottom while the Kronosaurus starts chomping down on her decapitated body, his sharp teeth making short work of the smaller plesiosaur.

With prey abundant, this won't be his only meal today. Later at sunset, he kills another Eromangasaurus, leaving behind a partially eaten carcass floating in the water for hungry Cretolamna to pick clean. He`s also not the only one of his species to make a killing at the Queensland coast.

Many Kronosaurus, male and female, young and old gather both here and everywhere else in north Australia`s waters during the summer months to feed on the millions of Eromangasaurus, giant sea turtles and various other marine life that likewise explores these fertile waters.

However, once winter comes, this lively saltwater ecosystem will quickly fall on leaner times. As will our Kronosaurus and his kin.

..............................................................

Three months later, and this region experiences a drop in temperature. The nights are longer, fog starts floating more frequently across the forest and heavy rain becomes more and more frequent. Herds of Muttaburrasaurus and Austrosaurus still travel across these foggy, foreboding forests to browse, even while even while being pounded by the heavy rain.

The Kakuru has found a small cave and is making a nest out of dead vegetation for herself. Soon most dinosaurs will be looking for some kind of shelter as the warm rays of the sun will soon become a nonentity for over two months. Being located closer to the South Pole means that Australia is still experiencing polar nights.

In the ocean, the drop in temperature has prompted most of the fish population to migrate towards warmer waters up north, and their predators like elasmosaurs, polycotylids and pterosaurs followed. The last of Queensland `s pterosaurs are flying away, heading towards warmer climes in what is now Indonesia and South Asia.

Our Kronosaurus has felt the bite of the changing climate. Prey has been getting rarer and rarer, and he hasn't eaten anything for over a week.

And the water`s been getting chillier and chillier. All of this change is signaling to the pliosaur that winter is at his doorstep and now he has to move or die of starvation.

His stay in Queensland has come to an end, instinct is telling him that it's time to move on. Now he`s heading north, swimming towards warmer waters following his prey. A journey that takes him far out into the open ocean that is the Pacific. 

...............................................................

And so the Australian portion of this story has come to an end. From the next chapter onward we`re gonna go on a northward migration into the Pacific, towards foreign waters, new lands and we`re gonna encounter more of the unique wildlife of the Albian. More sea reptiles, more theropods and definitely more pterosaurs.

Part One:  Terror of the Deep I

A few days later, and we`re back in the dense forests of northern Queensland, where the female Kakuru from before has returned to her natural hunting grounds, searching for prey. It's nighttime and he small theropod moves silently through the forest, her markings helping her to camouflage herself admits the dense undergrowth. Her keen eyesight allows her to see well in the moonlight.

Near a river`s banks, a small mammal is scurrying through her deep burrow, finishing building a nest around her clutch of tiny eggs from dead, folded, wet leaves. This odd-looking mammal is a Steropodon, an ancient form of platypus that doesn't differ much from its modern relative, except that her soft bill carries a set of teeth, something modern platypuses loose as they reach adulthood.

At almost 2 feet long, Steropodon ranks among the largest of Mesozoic mammals.

The small, brown monotreme leaves her burrow and heads towards the river to feed. Despite their funny and deceptively cumbersome appearance platypuses are surprisingly fast and mobile on land. She usually goes out hunting at night, when fewer of her predators are active.

The sharp-eyed Kakuru smells a meal, but sensing the predator the little Steropodon moves underneath the cover of ferns, navigating past rocks and tree roots. Noticing motion amongst the ferns, the Kakuru chases after her, but the platypus slips out of sight between the ferns.

Catching a glimpse of the mammal, the Kakuru lunges towards her only to get her head caught among tree roots. Moving back, the theropod frees herself and looks up, only to see her prey escaping by plunging into the river.

Like her modern relatives, this Steropodon hunts mainly in the water, using the special sensory organs in her soft-skinned bill to pick up vibration from tiny worms, shrimp, larvae and tiny crayfish along the bottom. A hunting method that would be continued and perfected by her descendants for over 100 million years.

The Kakuru steps into the ankle-deep water, chirping and looking out for any sign of the platypus. But something else catches her eye, the eyeshine of a large 11-foot crocodile peeking out just above the surface, and moving towards her. Alarmed, she bolts away, back into the forest.

The sound of crashing vegetation and rustling leaves alerts her to the presence of another deadly adversary, the pair of Rapator. She swiftly moves out of their paths and disappears into the cover of the darkness.

Unaware of her presence, the two large carnivores continue their patrol around the waterhole, eyeing its remaining occupants and looking for one that has strayed from the others. These two young males are brothers, and they are hunting together.

...................................

As the night continues, the moon shines over the coastal waters. The Mythunga fly back to roost around the nearby cliffs, ledges, and rocky islands.

But beneath the water's surface, things are anything but calm. At this hour, shoals of small squid emerge from the deepest depths of the ocean to prey on schools of tiny fish.

With their bioluminescent photophores, they rapidly change color, lighting up like a neon sign while hunting. They snatch tiny fish with their barbed tentacles and their sharp beaks make short work of their struggling victims. But in the ocean one moment you can be the hunter, and the next you're the hunted.

As demonstrated when one squid gets snatched in the jaws of a serpent-like creature with frightening, interlocking, needle-like teeth. But that's only the animal`s head and neck, which is attached to a compact body with four flippers.

These creatures are called Eromangasaurus, long-necked sea reptile reaching 24 feet in length, with over half of that length being neck. They are part of a group of reptiles called the elasmosaurs, one of the most common large animals in the Cretaceous oceans. A whole pod of them has emerged from the darkness with one goal in mind: calamari dinner.

A feeding frenzy ensues as multiple cephalopods get caught and swallowed up whole in rapid succession. The long neck of Eromangasaurus and other elasmosaurs is more rigid than the body of a snake but flexible enough to allow these animals to snatch small prey from a distance.

Several Cretolamna appear on the scene as well. The elasmosaurs are too large for them to tackle, but the sharks can smell the prospect of an easier meal.

Sharks are some of nature`s hardiest and most durable creations, they have been patrolling Earth`s oceans for over 350 million years, having survived multiple mass extinction events that repeatedly wiped out most other life on Earth, long before the first marine reptiles appeared and they are destined to eventually outlive them.

Cretolamna belongs to an ancient, now extinct family of sharks called the otodontids or the mega-toothed sharks, called so for their thick, sturdy teeth that meant certain doom for any animal unfortunate enough to make first contact with them.

The future will eventually unravel a new golden age for the mega-toothed sharks where they would grow to much more massive sizes, culminating into some of the largest carnivores to ever live on this planet. But as one its earliest members, Cretolamna remains small and lives in the shadow of much greater predators.

After having eaten their fills, the Eromangasaurus swim up to stick their tiny heads just above the surface to breath. They rest for a few minutes but they must soon resume their journey. Most of them are females and they're close to giving birth. But delivering babies in the open ocean is dangerous, thus the elasmosaurs must find a more secluded spot to act as a nursery.

Unlike sea turtles, most other ancient sea reptiles were incapable of hauling themselves onto land, therefore, just like sharks or whales, they have evolved to give live birth.

However, one female can't keep her fully formed babies in anymore. Unable to bear the pain any longer she raises her head above the surface and goes into labor. The smell of it starts attracting sharks. A single Eromangasaurus can give birth to five pups in one season and her first one starts coming out, its backside coming out first in order not to drown.

After being ejected from its mother's womb, the little Eromangasaurus comes into the world fully capable of swimming and its first instinct is to head for the surface to inhale its first gulp of air. After this, it's going to have to fend for itself, parental care only goes so far with marine reptiles.

But it will never get the chance to do that, as it meets its end in the jaws of a Cretolamna. Few Eromangasaurus live to reach adulthood.

Unaware of her first pup`s death, the mother brings three more pups into the world before promptly swimming away from the shark-infested waters. After taking their first breath of air, the little pups already find themselves swimming for their lives from hungry Cretolamna.

Two quickly perish, but the last one desperately tries to hide amongst the jagged boulders at the bottom. But it's at a major disadvantage, it needs to breathe air while the sharks don't, meaning that they have plenty of time to wait it out. But luck is on its side tonight.

The massive form of the Kronosaurus appears from the shadows, snapping his jaws at the fleeing sharks.

He too has been following the pod of Eromangasaurus, using a unique method of tracking his prey. Pliosaurs possessed a dual water flow system in which water entered the mouth, flew through the nasal cavity, and exited the nostrils, allowing for a constantly active sense of smell.

Memory from past experience also tells him that the Eromangasaurus assemble in these coastal waters every year to give birth.

Interestingly, pliosaurs and elasmosaurs are closely related, they are both plesiosaurs. But there's no family bond between them, as the long-necked plesiosaurs are a staple part in the diet of Kronosaurus and other giant pliosaurs.

Direct evidence of a predator-prey relationship has been found in 2005 when a crushed Eromangasaurus skull was revealed to sport distinct bite marks made by a Kronosaurus. Similar plesiosaur fossils with pliosaur tooth marks have been found in Europe, showing that pliosaurs targeted the vulnerable head and neck of their smaller plesiosaur brethren.

Kronosaurus is a master of ambush, striking his unwary prey from below, much like a great white shark hunting fur seals. Despite his large mass, the Kronosaurus moves with surprising speed and grace. Each of his four flippers is nearly 7 feet long, allowing him to propel his 11-ton bulk effortlessly through the water.

And his nose is telling him that the Eromangasaurus are close by.

.....................

The Rapator brothers are searching the dimly-lit forest when they stumble upon an imposing sight. They spot a small head on top of a long neck, browsing the high canopy. It`s a 15-ton Austrosaurus, one of many large sauropods native to Cretaceous Australia. The ground trembles as this lone individual lumbers through the forest.

The predators wisely give him a wide berth. Once they reach their full-size sauropods like these are essentially immune to attacks from even the fiercest predators.

The Austrosaurus moves towards the river, frightening several resting crocodiles into plunging into the water as his tree trunk-like feet stomp mere inches away from them before the giant slowly cranes his long neck down to drink.

For the hungry megaraptors the sauropod is of little interest and they must look elsewhere for food. After some searching, they have selected their first target, the ankylosaurs.

Near the edge of the forest, the small herd of Kunbarrasaurus is resting, except for one who went off for a late night snack.

At only about 700 pounds these are some of the smallest of the armored dinosaurs, in other parts of the world their kin grew to sizes comparable to small elephants. A few species of small, pig-sized ankylosaurs have been found throughout Australia and even Antarctica. No one knows why they shrank in size here in the far south of Gondwana.

Ankylosaurs have poor eyesight, but make up for it with a strong sense of smell. Sensing that the predators are near, he crouches down. The Rapator appear from behind him and flank him from both sides. They sniff and inspect the lying herbivore, looking for a weak spot to strike.

Scratching his claws against the Kunbarrasaurus` armor, one of the brothers leans down, opens his jaws and starts gnawing the ankylosaur`s neck, with little result. Megaraptors had rather weak jaws and relied more on their razor-sharp teeth and fearsome claws to inflict damage on their prey. The Kunbarrasaurus doesn't feel a thing.

The Rapator tries moving over to the head with much the same results, his teeth can't penetrate the thick armor. All the Kunbarrasaurus does is close his eyes, as even his eyelids are armored. The other Rapator claws the ankylosaur`s side while his brother stands up and starts inspecting the creatures osteoderm-covered back.

Eventually, as the brothers end up flanking each other, they simultaneously hook their claws against the Kunbarrasaurus` armor and flip him on his back. The herbivore starts squealing in panic as he kicks his front and back legs in the air like an upside-down tortoise. The predators try to bite his belly only to realize that it too is armored.

Out of patience, the Kunbarrasaurus swings his tail and manages to hit one of the theropods in the leg, his small spikes piercing through his flesh. The Rapator roars in surprise and backs off. He isn't seriously wounded, but the sudden pain is enough to convince him to retreat.

The other one remains persistent and tries to hold his would-be prey pinned down with his foot, but the Kunbarrasaurus kicks him in the face with one foot, causing him to jerk back. He continues trying to find a weak spot for several minutes until he finally gives up and goes off to find his brother.

For a larger ankylosaur this would have been a dangerous position to be left in, but thanks to his small size the Kunbarrasaurus rolls back onto his feet rather easily. Grunting, he shakes the dirt off of him. Sensing that the predators are gone, he resumes the business of eating.

.......................

Meanwhile, at a lagoon, multiple female Eromangasaurus gather together, swimming past each other with their heads held above the surface under the pale moonlight. Many are just hours away from giving birth and this shallow body of water provides them with the necessary protection.

Its entrance is partially blocked off by a tall, underwater sandbank, allowing them to enter the lagoon and keeping anything bigger from coming in, with large pliosaurs being their primary reason for being here.

Our Kronosaurus is hot on their trail, but with the water getting shallower as he`s nearing the nursery he`s running the risk of beaching himself. The smell of prey is strong, but as he`s nearing the sandbank he`s forced to make a turn. He senses a large assembly of prey and it's frustratingly just out of reach.

He swims back towards the deeper water, where he will lie low waiting to cut off late arrivals to the nursery.

However, on his way, he quickly notices a few more Eromangasaurus swimming towards the lagoon. Reacting hastily, the Kronosaurus goes for the elasmosaurs and swims up. They notice him and scatter.

His jaws snap at water as he misses his targets. Turning around quickly, the giant pliosaur gets a lock on the Eromangasaurus and pursues them.

The smaller plesiosaurs swim for their lives as the massive predator zeroes in on them, using his enormous flippers to propel himself like a torpedo with teeth. Closing in on the lagoon, the Eromangasaurus bolt over the sandbank, while the Kronosaurus closes in on the last one lagging behind.

The long-necked plesiosaur swims as fast as she can, with giant jaws right behind her. The Kronosaurus opens his mouth, just inches away from bitting down on his victim.

But then he`s forced to a halt, his body running into the sandbank. His jaws are forced shut by the impact and snag the tail of the Eromangasaurus.

She wiggles helplessly like a caught mouse for a few seconds before pulling herself free, the tip of her tail along with its small fluke getting ripped off in the process by the pliosaur`s teeth, leaving behind a small trail of blood as she fearfully flees into the lagoon.

The head of the Kronosaurus breaks the surface as he squirms on top of the bank, creating a huge sand cloud as he has run on ground. Trashing violently, he manages to push himself backward, as luckily his flippers were still free. Swimming backward, he distances himself from the sandbank and heads back towards deeper waters.

That was a close call, his own large size has proven to be a handicap in this instance and nearly left him stranded. He is not going to try a stunt like that again any time soon.

There are no meals for him tonight, so he returns towards the ocean. He`ll have to try out his luck here tomorrow.

.................................

Part three: Terror of the Deep: The Lighting Claw

I`m aiming for this story to be a sort of intermediation between Cruel Sea and Whale Killer, focusing on a large, oceanic apex predator but also on the terrestrial wildlife that lived at the same time as it. With Kronosaurus it allows me to feature the obscure dinosaurs of Australia, but doing a sea creature also allows me to cover more ground so to speak during the run of the story, and include wildlife from other parts of the world.

A small theropod dinosaur is searching along a vast sandy beach, leaving behind a visible trackway of three-toed footprints in the soft sand. Sporting a relatively robust body, short three-clawed arms and a long fleshy tail, she`s covered in tiny, smooth greyish-tawny scales with a faint pattern of lighter, leopard-like rosettes. Her throat-scales and face are a brighter golden-color with a dark, horizontal band running down from the top of her head all the way down her body.

She`s a Kakuru and she's a predator. Only around 8 feet long and no heavier than a German Shepard, she`s an opportunist that usually chases small game inland, yet the passing of a recent storm has lured her to the beach, to scavenge on the casualties of the storm.

Following her nose, she sniffs out the sunbaked corpse of a small shark, stuck between some boulders, being lightly pushed forward by the placid waves. The Kakuru moves in and laboriously pulls the corpse towards dryer land.

Food like this is a rare treat for this little carnivore, but foraging on this beach can be dangerous. An opportunistic Mythunga, a pterodactyloid pterosaur, is soaring above. This big male has a 16-foot wingspan, a long, dark beak with pointy, interlocking teeth and is covered in brown fuzz with a rusty-colored head, and clad in thick, black, horizontal, civet-like stripes.

Screeching, he swoops over the little dinosaur. She crouches down as the large flier soars over the water before making a U-turn towards her. Flapping his large wings just above her, he emits another chilling screech. Intimidated, the theropod flinches and flees from the scene.

The Mythunga lands on all fours and moves in to inspect the carcass. Like most pterosaurs, he prefers hunting small fish in the open ocean, but he won't squander a chance to feast on a bigger meal that the ocean has generously delivered to the coast. As he digs in, other, smaller Mythunga, females and younger males, join him, trying to get their share. A noisy feeding frenzy ensues.

The Kakuru moves on, sniffing the ground. It isn't long before she finds some new appetizers. Turtle eggs, scattered sparsely over the beach.

This is unusual, as turtles typical dig small holes in the sand to lay their soft-shelled eggs, but the storms that had passed the previous night brought with itself massive tidal wave which reshaped this once clean and flat sandy shore, washing up tons of seaweed that now covered most of it.

The Kakuru searches for more eggs along with other potential delicacies from the sea, but finding them amongst the piles of seaweed is easier said than done.

Suddenly she notices something shuffling amongst the weed, something much larger. At first glance, she spots what seems to be a boulder, but slowly the creature starts pushing itself frontward, pulling itself out of its reeking, green prison and revealing itself to be a massive sea turtle, resembling a jumbo-sized leatherback.

Being uncomfortably close to the alien-looking giant, and fearing the retribution of an angry parent, the little Kakuru flees further down the beach. But this is not the mother of the eggs. This is an old male Cratochelone, 12 feet long and the weight of a car, nearly twice the size of a female of his species. His size means that he's probably close to a hundred years old.

He`s a protostegid, an ancient group of sea turtles who were some of the largest to ever swim our oceans, and their closest living relative is the giant leatherback sea turtle. It's rare to see a male Cratochelone hauling himself on land. Only the females come out of the water when it's time to give birth to the next generation. They usually do it at night, trying to avoid attacks by predatory dinosaurs, and like most turtles, they promptly abandoned their offspring to their fate and drag themselves back into the water.

Although the ocean is only some 50 feet away from him, moving even a few inches is torturous for this giant, his multi-ton body slowly suffocating him. He was swimming close to shore when he was caught in the turbulent waves and washed onto the beach. Now he`s desperately trying to return to the relative safety of the ocean, in this state he`s completely defenseless. Like with leatherbacks, his "shell" has a very reduced carapace and is mostly a thick layer of blubber, covered with thick leathery skin.

After several hours of slow progress, he finally finds himself in the cool water, relieving him of the scorching sun. Propelling himself with his massive flippers, he enters deeper water.

Male Cratochelone might travel great distances during their lifespan. During the warmer summer months, thousands of these creatures migrate through these vast southern waters to feed on the expansive forests of jellyfish that form in these coastal waters. Like with modern turtle, their sharp beaks are ideal tools to chomp down on these tentacled invertebrates.

Sea turtles are the only living group of sea reptiles who are fully adapted for a life in the ocean and have a long and proud history that goes back to the age of the dinosaurs. But back then, they weren't alone. The Mesozoic was a golden age for large reptiles both on land and in the sea. Many different lineages of reptile had left the land and returned to the ocean.

Among them were the plesiosaurs, who came in many different shapes and sizes, like the polycotylids. A pod of them crosses paths with the Cratochelone. They too propel themselves with four massive flippers, but with much greater speed and grace. Their long thin snouts and sharp teeth are used for snagging fish.

The old Cratochelone swims peacefully through the deep blue waters, still exhausted from trying to reach it. He has returned to his element, but safety is a far-fetched dream in Cretaceous waters. Tired and worn out, he fails to notice a massive shadow emerging from behind a giant coral reef, swimming out of the shadowy depth and towards open water.

Shaped like a whale, but with flippers and a tail like the sea turtle, covered in dark grey skin with a white underbelly, and with a massive, 8 foot long, narrow and crocodilian-like head carrying a fearsome maw with the first three maxillary teeth enlarged. His lower jaw and throat are coated with barnacles.

Following his acute sense of smell, the flippered leviathan shadows the turtle from bellow, revealing himself to be three times the length of his quarry. Swimming up to flank the Cratochelone, without hesitation, his massive jaws clamp down on the turtle`s right back flipper, shaking it violently and tearing it off with ease.

A pool of blood starts forming around the struggling turtle, the predator`s attack having left it incapacitated.

This is certain death for the Cratochelone, as he`s bleeding out of a major artery at a lethal pace. Massive amounts of water get colored red.

The smell of blood quickly attracts several small, 13 foot sharks, Cretolamna, but most quickly leave after learning who the perpetrator of this murder is.

With his prey dead, the giant bites into the shell of the turtle, swimming away with it and shaking it constantly in order to reduce it into bite-sized chunks. He leaves behind a trail of blood, one which a few bold Cretolamna dare to follow.

........................................

Planet Earth, we`re in the middle of the Cretaceous period, 109 million years ago. The arrangement of the continents is very different than it is today. The now island continent of Australia is located in much more southern latitudes, being closer to the South Pole and it's attached to Antarctica, which in turn is connected to South America, forming the ancient supercontinent called Gondwana.

Warm ocean currents keep Antarctica ice-free, and it's covered in lush, temperate forest, as is Australia. These gardens of Eden are ruled by dinosaurs.

In the northern part of Australia, on the ground that would one day be Queensland, we see miles of both rugged and flat coastline surrounded by lagoons, mangroves and coral reefs on one side, and endless expanses of coastal forest on the other. Further inland we find a patchwork of temperate woodland, shrubland and fern prairie. Across this primordial world echo the honks and trumpeting calls of one of Australia`s most common dinosaurs, the bulky, 26 foot long, 3-ton Muttaburrasaurus.

Large herds of these odd-looking vegetarians travel through the maze of trees, browsing the canopy along the way. They are rhabdodonts, a relatively poorly known group of plant-eating dinosaurs who were restricted to small sizes everywhere else in the world, but here they managed to thrive and reach larger sizes.

Brown in color, with white stripes banding around their tails, limbs and back, and with teal-colored faces and large, bulbous snouts with reddish highlights on it and reddish throat sacks on the males, they're a spectacular sight.

Their enlarged, hollow, upward-bulging nasal muzzle is used to produce their distinctive calls.

The herd stops to feed in a clearing close to a water hole, and are joined by a small herd of Kunbarrasaurus, reddish-brown colored, tiny ankylosaurs no larger than a farm pig. They browse on the low hanging vegetation, and they stay with the Muttaburrasaurus for mutual protection. They're heavily armored but their small size still leaves them vulnerable.

Watching them under the cover of the trees are two pairs of hungry eyes. They belong to a pair of leanly-build, long-snouted theropods called Rapator. Almost 24 feet long and up to 1,000 pounds in weight, these are the top predators in this forest.

Sporting greyish-brown scales with lighter underbellies, clad in tiger-like stripes and a blackish muzzle and rings around their eyes, these creatures are part of a unique group of theropods that evolved in and were especially common in Australia, the megaraptors.

The cheetahs of their day, they were built for speed, but what made them especially lethal was an enlarged hand claw that allowed them to grasp their prey more efficiently. The Rapator stalk the herd, looking for the old, injured and weak to pick off.

.........................................

On the open ocean, flocks of Mythunga soar across the sky, eyeing schools of fish. But none of them are willing to take the dive, as they spot an alarming sight. Just below the surfaces, they see a massive shape sporting four large flippers, gliding through the salt water.

Weighing 11 tons and stretching 35 feet from nose to tail, this large, male Kronosaurus is on the move, having just had a hefty meal. This massive predator is a member of the most successful and most diverse family of sea reptiles to have ever lived: the plesiosaurs, an ancient lineage of reptiles that have already been patrolling Earth`s waters for 85 million years. They came in many different shapes and sizes, adapted for different ways of life.

Some like the polycotylids were adapted to hunt small, slippery prey like fish and squid, but Kronosaurus was part of a unique group of plesiosaurs called the pliosaurs, bulky apex predators who were specialized in taking down other marine reptiles. For 50 million years they were at the top of the ocean`s food chain.

Kronosaurus was one of the biggest, and one of the most successful, its oceanic range stretching from Australia to South and Central America and beyond.

Its name is derived from the god Cronus, the tyrannical leader of the first generation of Titans in Greek mythology, who devoured his own children before being defeated and overthrown by his son Zeus.

They are solitary predators and they swim great distances throughout the Pacific ocean. Like many other marine animals, they too appear in large numbers on the coast of northern Australia during the warm summer months. Specifically to exploit the rich bounty of prey.

...............................................

Part two:
Terror of the Deep II

Felt like doing something about Australian fossil wildlife. Not sure if I'm gonna continue this one or keep it a one-shot. I do have more ideas with this, but we'll see. Obviously, since fossils from Cretaceous Australia are notoriously rare and scrappy there's a lot more open speculation at work this time around.

The poorly known Mythunga is based on this image: www.pteros.com/pterosaurs/myth… and the mysterious and fragmentary theropod Kakuru is loosely based on this noasaur interpretation: Prehistoric Australia #07: Kakuru Though since there isn't much of a scientific verdict on either of these animals I didn't apply any specific phylogenetic titles to them. With Rapator I feel the megaraptor identification is more valid as its sole fossil (a metacarpus) has been described as looking nearly identical to the metacarpus of the younger and better known Australovenator.

And the polycotylids are meant to be the undescribed polycotylid species from Queensland`s Toolebuc Formation, on which most of this fauna is based on. 

Prehistoric Park was one of my favorite paleodocumentaries as a kid and I remember watching it a lot growing up. But with the ever-evolving view of various prehistoric animals, how well does this show hold up in the accuracy department?

Unfortunately, not well.......

A general problem with the theropods overall: broken wrists. All the theropods (especially the maniraptoforms) have the old school, Jurassic Park-style zombie-like arm posture with downward-facing palms. In reality, theropod palms should be facing one another, like they are about to clap.

Considering that its predecessor, Walking with Dinosaurs (which aired 7 years prior) got that little bit of trivia right, this is pretty egregious.

Episode 1: T-Rex Returns

Scaly Ornithomimus:
We`ve had evidence for feathers on Ornithomimus as far back as 1995, for a 2006 documentary to still have scaly, broken-wristed ornithomimosaurs is pretty embarrassing. Note how When Dinosaurs Roamed America (2001) snuck in a feathered Ornithomimus cameo in its last segment.

Filter-feeding Ornithomimus: An unfortunate paleo-meme, akin to the half-sail Dimetrodon and Droppy-lipped Smilodon, that got its 15 minutes of fame right around the time this series was being made.

Based on the discovery of a sort of "lamellae" on the horny beak of some ornithomimosaurs, similar to those seen in ducks and flamingos. But a few years later, this hypothesis was discarded: those lamellae are arguably simple "wrinkles" on the beak, like those seen in other non-filter feeding birds. The exact diet of ornithomimosaurs has always been debated, but they were most likely bear-like and pig-like omnivores and generalist, along with troodonts and oviraptors.

Albertosaur-like T.rex: Terence and Matilda are probably some of the most accurate juvenile T.rexes to appear in media. As we now know, Tyrannosaurus rex and kin went through an interesting form of "puberty", starting out as long-legged, gracile, narrow-snouted pursuit predators before growing into the bulky, robust, massive-skulled ambush predators we`re familiar with.

That's reflected in Terence and Matilda. Unfortunately, the adult rexes retain all of those features aside from being given more massive and accurate skulls for an adult rex. The only giant derived, late Cretaceous tyrannosaurs to have this kind of neoteny are the "gracile tyrannosaurs" or albertosaurs (Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus), while Tyrannosaurus rex was part of the then more common "robust tyrannosaurs" like Daspletosaurus, Tarbosaurus, and Bistahieversor.

Interestingly, the adult T.rex model later gets reused for Albertosaurus in the last episode, and it fits them much better. Makes me think that the series didn't initially intend to use T.rex (on account of being too cliche?) and later couldn't make a proper model for it due to budget restraints?

No growth stages in Triceratops: While this wouldn't have been common knowledge at the time, we now know that Triceratops went through several growth stages before reaching adulthood: starting out with big eyes and tiny, stumpy horn, having backward-curving horns as a "teen" before reaching its more recognizable adult form. See here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricerat…

Sufficient to say, Theo should not look like just a miniature version of his parents. Interestingly, the first extensive ontogenetic study of Triceratops was published the same year this show aired.

Nyctosaurus in the Maastrichtian? : A brief cameo maybe, but still a major case of anachronism. Nyctosaurus died out at least 80 million years ago, 14 million years before the time of the Hell Creek fauna.

Granted, recent findings, most notably the very recent discovery of a whole plethora of nyctosaur species, along with the pteranodont Tethydraco, from Maastrichtian Morocco prove that these pelican-like pterosaurs were still numerous and widespread at the time of the K–Pg extinction, unlike what we previously thought. Still, Nyctosaurus itself and Hell Creek didn't overlap.

 

A Mammoth Undertaking

Oversized cave bear: No, Ursus spelaeus did not stand 4 m tall, that's purely an awesomebro myth. These bears were around the same size as the massive, coastal brown bears of the Bering Sea, and big males would have stood 3 m tall on their hind legs, at most. At least the weight of 750 kg is accurate, though that would only account for exceptionally large males.

Elasmotherium extinction date: The narrator claims that Elasmotherium sibiricum died out 150,000 million years ago due to the disappearance of its habitat. Thought to be the case at the time, but newer findings of the giant rhino have been dated to be just 29,000 years old. And its habitat (the mammoth steppe) wasn't disappearing 150,000 years ago. If anything, it was entering a new golden age that would last until as recently as 10,000 years ago.

Overnight domestication: Yes, it's a heartwarming subplot, and Nigel did go out of his way to protect her in her most dire moment, and yes, elephants are highly intelligent and social animals, but it's still ridiculous to believe that this would be enough (especially in the short time span of under 24 hours) to turn a wild mammoth like Martha, who would have been hardwired to view humans as a threat, completely docile to the point that it would be safe for the park staff to give her a haircut. As it is well known at this point, even fully domesticated elephants can randomly turn on their owner in the blink of an eye and go on a rampage, just ask any elephant mahout: english.mathrubhumi.com/news/o…

It made more sense with the titanosaurs, as these creatures were so huge that they were immune from predation. Hence they had little reason to be particularly aggressive, helped by the fact that they were pretty slow in both meanings of the word. Not so much for mammoths.



Dinobirds

There's a lot of debate about just how airborne microraptors were (if at all). So I`m not touching that one.

Cold-blooded dinos: Yes, this episode insinuates that at the begging. Facepalm.

Anachronism: Most of the wildlife is from the Yixian Formation (129-124 mya), which is also the time setting of the episode, but Microraptor is from the Jiufotang Formation (120 mya). Its cousin Sinornithosaurus (a.k.a the first dromeosaur to be found with direct evidence of feathers) would have been a better option.

More raven, less bold eagle: Microraptor, along with several other small coelurosaurs from China, had its pigmentation recently deciphered. Turns out it was covered in black, iridescent feathers like corvids, making those patches of white and red shown in the series unlikely.

No mohawk: Yes, the original fossil had what at first looked like a feathered head crest, but turns out those feathers were just flattened and misshapen during the process of fossilization. In real life, dromeosaurs likely had smooth, streamlined head feathers much like most modern birds of prey.

Not enough feathers: On that note, while the show's model is one of the better representation of feathered maniraptors for its time: prehistoric-earth-a-natural-hi… , the real deal would have had thicker and more extensive plumage: www.google.me/search?q=microra…

Same for the Incisivosaurus, less like this prehistoric-earth-a-natural-hi… and more like this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incisivo… The show`s model does have very pretty colors though.

Not a strict insectivore: The episode implies that Microraptor fed mainly on creepy crawlies. Actual stomach content found in Jiufotang shows a much more varied diet: ranging from small mammals to lizards to fish to even birds. Speaking of which.......

Not an ancestor of birds: The episode implies this, but it was common knowledge even back then that birds descended from little bird-like paraves from the late Jurassic like Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis. Microraptor was a type of dromeosaur and modern-looking birds like enantiornithines lived alongside it and long before it.

For a documentary, this is very sloppy and egregiously inept terminology.

Mei long: I`ll talk more about its most obvious error when I get to Troodon, but besides sporting the outdated fashion look of the 80s troodonts this depiction of Mei long is gratuitously oversized, being the size of a Deinonychus. The real animal was pretty tiny: only about the size of a cat. The size discrepancy can be chalked up to the fact that the holotype was originally interpreted as a newborn, do to the animal being a basal troodont with many superficially child-like features.

There were, however, wolf-sized, predatory coelurosaurs that lived in early Cretaceous China, like the largest known compsognathid Sinocalliopteryx (described just a year after the series aired).

Recycled Nyctosaurus: The brown, crestless recycled Nyctosaurus are typical mid-2000s depictions of pterosaurs, shown skimp-feeding and lacking pycnofibers, both of which are inaccurate, but otherwise they are alright.

It's just odd that they went for a generic pterosaur, as there were pterosaurs known at the time that coexisted with Microraptor like Liaoningopterus or Nurhachius. Probably budget cuts.

Interestingly, both Jiufotang and Yixian saw a boom of new pterosaur discoveries not long after this series first aired.



Saving the Sabre-Tooth


A lot of the problems from the saber-tooth cat episode of Walking with Beasts carry over to this one.

At least this series doesn't show the highly unlikely lion-like pack structure for the saber-tooths and more accurately portrays them as ambush predators, though the hunting scene with the Toxodon is needlessly over-exaggerated with the giant cat jumping at its prey instead of just wrestling it down.

On the downside, this reconstruction of Smilodon populator is less accurate than the pretty good-looking one from Walking with Beasts, having proportions more like a typical big cats and its sabers being rather too small. On the upside, the tawny, uniform coloration is more likely for a savannah-dwelling cat than the jaguar-looking coat pattern from Walking with Beasts.

Most of the problems with the terror bird carry over from the previous series as well. I already talked about it in my Walking with Beasts review, in a nutshell: The idea that phorusrhacids went extinct by being outcompeted by the arrival of saber-toothed cats during the Great American Interchange is unlikely. It hinges on the notion that terror birds lived without any competition for 50 million years while their home was isolated from the rest of the world and that they were unprepared to face it once the "superior" placental carnivores came onto the scene.

Except that phorusrhacids coexisted with other large predators as far back as the Oligocene, including large predatory metatherian mammals and large terrestrial sebecid crocodiles.

And then there's the fact that the famous terror bird, Titanis walleri, actually migrated northwards into North America and survived there for at least 3 million years (5-1.8 mya), despite facing constant competition from saber-toothed cats, hyenas, and bears.

They`re also shown as unrealistically cowardly and easily intimidated when confronted by a single Smilodon. Anyone who works with large birds today, especially ratites like cassowaries and ostriches, can tell you that birds can and will fight back when threatened, very ferociously.

This is especially true if you give them sharp talons and a huge ax-like beak which they can easily use to strike down the cat, the bird would be scared off by a pack of them but wouldn't hesitate to fight and kill a lone cat.

And the terror bird is shown as scavengers, but CT scans of phorusrhacid skulls have revealed that its brain had tiny, underdeveloped olfactory lobes meaning these avians had a very weak sense of smell, therefore they would be incapable of tracking down carcasses for a living, a critical requirement for any prominent scavenger.


Though they did at least improve and update a few things. While Walking with Beasts gave credence to the outdated fringe theory that terror birds survived until 10,000 years ago, here it's stated that they died out 1 million years ago, which is much closer to the extinction date of the last known terror bird, Titanis, but obviously still not accurate.

Also, they (thankfully) never claimed that this Pleistocene terror bird is Phorusrhacos (which died out 12 million years ago) this time around.

Outdated Toxodon behavior: Another addition to BBC`s rather erroneous depiction of Ice Age South America is this episodes antiquated portrayal of Toxodon platensis as a semi-amphibious, hippo-like creature and even shows Charles Darwin`s outdated description of the animal from the 1800s. This idea was already losing favor in the early 2000s, as examinations of the proportions of the femur and tibia, as well as the position of its head, showed that the animal was ill-equipped for an amphibious lifestyle.

While it isn't implausible that Toxodon occasionally wallowed in shallow water or mud to escape the heat, it was most certainly a fully terrestrial herbivore, much more of a rhino analogy than a hippo one. The fossils are also usually found in arid and semi-arid areas, further cementing this fact.

On a side note, I really like its color pattern in the series, giant panda meets okapi!



The Bug House


Don't know much about the Carboniferous period and its fauna, so I`ll keep it brief.

The cat-sized scorpion Pulmonoscorpius kirktonensis and the amphibious tetrapod Crassigyrinus scoticus died out almost 30 million years before the timeline of this episode (300 mya). That's some pretty serious anachronism!

Also, Crassigyrinus is not classed as an amphibian, but rather as a very basal tetrapod.

And the most egregious error of the episode, Nigel claims that the ancestors of scorpions were the so-called "sea scorpions", the eurypterids, even though they and the true scorpions have nothing to do with each other, besides both being arachnids. Eurypterids are in fact most closely related to horseshoe crabs.

Did they confuse eurypterids with some actual, ancient and aquatic scorpions like the Silurian Brontoscorpio? Either way, this is just sloppy, sloppy research...........

 

Supercroc

Over-sizing the star: Remember how BBC paleodocumentaries are frequently criticized for oversizing fossil animals? Well, here's another example of that combined with lackluster research.

Here, Deinosuchus riograndensis is depicted as a 15 m long and 9-ton behemoth and the largest crocodile of all time. Not only is the giant alligator not a contender for that title (those would be Sarcosuchus and Purrusaurus, both estimated to have reached 12 m), but those size estimates were based on a severely outdated reconstruction of Deinosuchus riograndensis from 1954 which had been completely discredited by the mid-1990s.

Due to the fragmentary nature of most of its fossils, the maximum size of Deinosuchus isn't entirely clear. However, nowadays most experts, using more complete material, have concluded that most Deinosuchus specimens were around 8 to 9 m in length in life and up to 3 tons in weight, and the largest recorded specimen, found in Texas, is thought to have been 10 m long and 5 tons in weight.

Very fragmentary fossils suggest that it might have reached 12 m, but they are obviously not viewed as very reliable, and most workers agree on putting the giant alligator's maximum size at 10 m.

Wrong skull shape: The Deinosuchus in this series is essentially an upscaled version of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) with the same wide, flattened skull. But Deinosuchus and Alligator were not closely related genera, with the former being a more basal type of alligator, no closer to the latter than to the South American caimans. In real life, Deinosuchus had a more standard crocodilian skull: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinosuc…

Anachronism in spades: The episode takes place in the Campanian (75 mya) and most of the fauna is accurate for the time. But it features the aforementioned Nyctosaurus, which was extinct by that time.

Though I assume the makers of this didn't have an alternative, as the pterosaur fossil record from mid to late Campanian North America was and still is pretty thin, and consists mainly of azhdarchids. And....yeah, this was a better option than depicting grossly outdated, fish-hunting azhdarchids.

On the other hand, we have Albertosaurus sarcophagus, which only emerged after the extinction of Deinosuchus. Though some consider its close relative Gorgosaurus libratus (which was a contemporary of Deinosuchus) to be part of the same genus, so this was likely supposed to be "Albertosaurus libratus"? *Fucking inconsistent dinosaur taxonomy*

Also: There's a brief blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment where a Nyctosaurus and Nigel`s hang glider are in frame together, and they appear to be the same size. In actuality, Nyctosaurus was no larger than an eagle, such a large size would be more fitting for a Pteranodon.

And needless to say: the Nyctosaurus are also shown skimp-feeding and lacking pycnofibers. Not accurate.

80s Troodon trying to be groovy in 2006: And here we have one of the most egregious errors in this show. The Troodon (and its cousin Mei long, with whom it shares one model) are scaly, lizard-like, broken-wristed, cat-eyed monsters that crawled right out of a 1980s dinosaur textbook for children.

There really is no excuse for this, especially since earlier paledocumentaries like When Dinosaurs Roamed America (2001) and Dinosaur Planet (2003) already featured feathered and bird-like dromeosaurs and troodonts (including Troodon itself). All this seems to indicate that American paleontologists and documentary makers are much quicker to the update than British ones XP

Oddly, BBC`s The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs (2005) featured "the first feathered dinosaur (Velociraptor) on British television", so I don't even know......

Also......

Should this animal be called Troodon? : This you should take with a grain of salt, as half the time dinosaur phylogeny and taxonomy are about as consistent and lasting as a fashion trend, but a recent study has cast doubt on the validity of the Troodon genus and placed most of its species in different genera, including the revived Stenonychosaurus.

Based on its size, the animal in the episode is likely supposed to be the theropod currently known as Stenonychosaurus inequalis.

Looking this over again, it saddens me to see just how sloppy the research on this show was half the time. Walking with Dinosaurs had just as many, if not more errors, but they were mostly relics of then current theories which were viewed as accurate (barring the Kaiju Liopleurodon). This show, on the other hand, has plenty of errors that were already dated for the time and was downright sloppy with the execution of some of the facts.

Much like how the budget for this was obviously lower, given the constant use of stock footage, clearly, the scientific advisors for this weren't nearly up to par with those who worked on Walking with Dinosaurs.
After doing Siats I really wanted to do another one of these obscure theropods from the neovenatorid/megaraptor lineage  (whether it's a real phylogenetic group or not or if any of these guys belong there? Sans Shrug ) as my next dinosaur pick, preferably together with a contemporary abelisaur.

But I can't decide which one? So I want you people to help me out via voting. The possibilities are :

a) Gualicho meets Skorpiovenator or Mapusaurus.

b) Deltadromeus meets Rugops.

c) Australovenator meets Diamantinasaurus.

d) Rapator meets Muttaburrasaurus or Kunbarrasaurus. Or an unlikely, but intriguing version of the Cape Paterson theropod as an abelisaur (a double Mysterysaur!).

e) Megaraptor meets Unenlagia.

If you want me to draw one of these guys, help me decide. 

 

Part one: Terror of the Deep: Queensland Killer

Part two: Terror of the Deep: Plesiosaur Nursery


At the crack of dawn, the sunbeams rise over the canopy of the coastal forests of northern Queensland. The quiet and peaceful scenery soon comes to life with the loud vocalizations of multiple male Mythunga.

These large pterosaurs each find an exclusive spot to stand proud and tall, usually on a cliff ledge or high rock, where they release a series of noisy caws lasting for hours to attract females.

The females gather on a large flat island of rock close to shore, grooming themselves before going off to hunt on the open ocean, where the numerous males also appear in hopes to attract their attention.

The Mythunga usually rely on display and vocalization, but as more and more of them come together scuffles soon erupt. Males hiss and snap their jaws at one another, trying to scare each other off.

The large male from before comes soaring in, with his 16-foot wingspan he glides gracefully on the air current before landing on the rock.

His size alone quickly intimidates the younger males and he caws loudly to establish his dominance. He`s a seasoned veteran and has fathered four generations of Mythunga along this coast.

His large size is a testimony to the females of his healthy genes. As one female finishes gulping down a fish he starts mounting her.

Below, other Mythunga dive beneath the waves, bursting through schools of fish and snatching one. Their head breaks the surface followed by their wings.

Once they have a fish they waste little time getting airborne before swallowing it. With giant marine reptiles patrolling these waters they must minimize their time in it as much as possible.

While chasing the fish they are joined underwater by a pod of polycotylids.

With their fragile jaws, these 10-foot plesiosaurs are of little threat to the large flying reptiles. Like dolphins they attack the schools of fish from different sides, herding them together and pushing them towards the surface which is also beneficial to the pterosaurs.

But the feeding frenzy doesn't last for long.

One polycotylid, having eaten its fill, swims down towards two rock formations forming a wide and long underwater gorge. Our Kronosaurus emerges from its murky depths, his massive form sending the little polycotylid swimming for its life.

The giant pliosaur isn't interested in chasing it, polycotylids are usually too fast for him unless he can take them by surprise.

The rest of the pod scatters upon seeing him. Above the flocks of pterosaur screech in panic upon noticing him, alerting the ones in the water that something is wrong.

Thrashing in the water, the Mythunga spread their wings and fly away as the Kronosaurus` huge head erupts on the water`s surface.

He blows out a massive amount of air through his nostrils, which are located close to his eyes, before taking a huge gulp of air and diving back down.

He`s heading back towards the nursery. There, in the lagoon, countless tiny Eromangasaurus are now swimming along its bottom.

Their mothers remain there, in order to recuperate their strength. Soon they'll be heading back into the dangers of the open ocean. Hunger will compel many of them to leave soon enough.

Not far away, the Kronosaurus is waiting. Hungry, he remains frustrated, for the moment.

...........................

Back inland another creature is feeling nature`s calling. Near a floodplain, loud trumpeting calls are heard everywhere.

The herd of Muttaburrasaurus has gathered to feed on the cycad plants growing around it.

But food isn't the only thing on their minds. Bull Muttaburrasaurus move through the herd, vocalizing and inflating small red sacks from their noses, akin to bladder-nosed seals. This is all display to attract the opposite gender.

The bulky, bipedal ornithopods honk and trumpet proudly and shake their heads while showing off their scarlet nasal sacks, both to the females, and rival males.

Confrontations between Muttaburrasaurus are rarely violent, it's all about showing off and the females usually select their preferred mate.

The male will then follow her for hours and try to mount her as much as possible. As with most large dinosaurs, mating is a dangerous procedure for the females as she has to endure the bull`s hefty 3-ton bulk on top of her.

However, now the herd has to contend with a new worry.

The Rapator brothers have been following the rhabdodonts and split up to circle and inspect the herd. One of them steps through the knee-deep water as the herbivores glare at him, grunting, honking and stomping the ground as they edge closer to one another.

A full-grown, healthy Muttaburrasaurus is more than a match for the brothers, multiple individuals flanking one another as essentially untouchable. Emitting a low growl, the theropod keeps studying the herd, looking for any vulnerable target.

Ultimately, he and his brother intend to create panic and single out any youngsters or older and weaker animals. He keeps growling and making mock lunges at the herd, but the Muttaburrasaurus stand their ground.

The other Rapator runs parallel to the other side of the herd, scaring them into moving, but they remain close together. The predator halts and roars, forcing the ornithopods to change direction. He dogs the herd roaring and growling to stir panic.

Bellowing, a huge bull suddenly breaks free and charges the predator. The Rapator retreats as the massive Muttaburrasaurus chases him over the shallow water. His brother runs behind the Muttaburrasaurus, prompting him to turn and charge at him.

The brothers hassle the giant, but it becomes apparent that he's more than a match for them. He stands tall and bellows as he continues chasing the lanky predators.

The brothers distance themselves from the angry bull and continue harassing the herd from both sides. One of the brothers roars at the front of the herd only to be charged at by an adult female.

He retreats and watches the Muttaburrasaurus move towards the forest, but they don't go in single line and unintentionally scatter into smaller groups.

The Rapator then spots something, a 2-ton adolescent female Muttaburrasaurus at the very end of one group heading towards the woods.

Boldly, he sprints after them and lunges at her to separate her. The Muttaburrasaurus backs away as the predator growls and advances towards her. She tries to run when the other Rapator runs at her and leaps onto her back.

She squeals in agony as the megaraptor hooks his claws into her back and bites into her neck. Nearly toppling over, she runs and the Rapator falls over.

With deep gashes, she tries to run but the other predator runs up to her and blocks her path. She tries to stand to her full height and bellows loudly but the predator isn't intimidated. Bruised, but otherwise unharmed, his brother recovers and blindsides her.

Attacking her side, he rips through her skin with his fearsome claws and bites out a small chunk of flesh. Squealing, the Muttaburrasaurus swings her tail but the Rapator swiftly dodges it. His brother seizes the chance and attacks her neck.

Securing a death grip around it, he bites into it, his knife-like teeth tearing through skin and muscles. The other one hooks his claws on her flank, helping his brother to hold her and wrestle her to the ground.

He bites off another chunk from her side. The struggle doesn't last for long before the youngster topples over. It's over for her.

Witnessing this, the herd calms down. Growing quiet, they slowly start moving away. The loss of one of their own means that the threat is over for the rest.

............................................

An hour later, we find only one Rapator still feeding on the partially consumed, fly-ridden corpse of the Muttaburrasaurus, tearing off small chunks and swallowing them whole.

His brother has retreated to the shade of a palm tree to rest, away from the intense midday sun. The other soon eats his fill and joins his sleeping sibling in the shade to lie down and rest.

A smaller carnivore has been watching them. The female Kakuru has been waiting for this moment for hours. She waits another half hour to make sure that the other Rapator is asleep. She has failed to make a kill since last night and is now resorting to more daring measures.

She slowly and stealthy advances towards the kill. But she's not the only scavenger drawn by the smell of an easy meal. Flocks of pterosaurs have been circling the scene for over an hour, now they are tired of waiting.

Medium-sized, with 12-foot wingspans, several of these pterodactyloids land on all fours and start digging into the corpse.

They have dark pycnofibers covering their bodies, but mostly naked heads, and wrinkly necks covered in pale pink skin with a yellowish band above their grey, broad beaks which grow narrower towards the tip where all of their sharp teeth are confined.

These are istiodactylids, expert scavengers and the vultures of the Cretaceous. Like their avian counterparts, they are messy eaters and not afraid to stand up to small terrestrial predators, as the Kakuru finds out as she has to squabble with the hissing and nippy pterosaurs while trying to grab her share.

She bites out a decently-sized hunk of meat while trying to ignore the hostile company. But the noise soon wakes up the owners of the kill.

Loud roars, and the istiodactylids fly away. Panicking, the Kakuru holds on to the meat as the two Rapator run at her. Holding it in her jaws she bolts towards the forest as the megaraptors stop at the kill roaring at the top of their lungs. Luckily for her, they`re too tired to give chase.

Having gotten away with a decent meal, she runs into the forest.

The brothers start dragging their kill closer to their resting place to keep a closer eye on it. Soaring above, the istiodactylids will have to wait for them to leave.

......................................................

Back on the coast, large numbers of Eromangasaurus are moving through the open waters eagerly looking for prey. The starved long-necked elasmosaurs are still in a weakened state and require nutrition. This also places them in a much more vulnerable position. They won't be as quick to react as usual.

Down below them, the massive form of the Kronosaurus emerges. Propelling himself upwards with his long flippers, the 11-ton leviathan zeroes in on a group of Eromangasaurus.

Selecting a target, he opens his powerful jaws and within a second they clamp down on the Eromangasaurus` neck, sending her companions tumbling through the water as the pliosaur pushes them out of the way swimming upwards with his prey dangling from his jaws.

His head erupts from the waves with the Eromangasaurus held tightly in his jaws. Once they plummet back into the water he shakes her violently and in no time bites her in half.

Her head and part of her neck start sinking to the bottom while the Kronosaurus starts chomping down on her decapitated body, his sharp teeth making short work of the smaller plesiosaur.

With prey abundant, this won't be his only meal today. Later at sunset, he kills another Eromangasaurus, leaving behind a partially eaten carcass floating in the water for hungry Cretolamna to pick clean. He`s also not the only one of his species to make a killing at the Queensland coast.

Many Kronosaurus, male and female, young and old gather both here and everywhere else in north Australia`s waters during the summer months to feed on the millions of Eromangasaurus, giant sea turtles and various other marine life that likewise explores these fertile waters.

However, once winter comes, this lively saltwater ecosystem will quickly fall on leaner times. As will our Kronosaurus and his kin.

..............................................................

Three months later, and this region experiences a drop in temperature. The nights are longer, fog starts floating more frequently across the forest and heavy rain becomes more and more frequent. Herds of Muttaburrasaurus and Austrosaurus still travel across these foggy, foreboding forests to browse, even while even while being pounded by the heavy rain.

The Kakuru has found a small cave and is making a nest out of dead vegetation for herself. Soon most dinosaurs will be looking for some kind of shelter as the warm rays of the sun will soon become a nonentity for over two months. Being located closer to the South Pole means that Australia is still experiencing polar nights.

In the ocean, the drop in temperature has prompted most of the fish population to migrate towards warmer waters up north, and their predators like elasmosaurs, polycotylids and pterosaurs followed. The last of Queensland `s pterosaurs are flying away, heading towards warmer climes in what is now Indonesia and South Asia.

Our Kronosaurus has felt the bite of the changing climate. Prey has been getting rarer and rarer, and he hasn't eaten anything for over a week.

And the water`s been getting chillier and chillier. All of this change is signaling to the pliosaur that winter is at his doorstep and now he has to move or die of starvation.

His stay in Queensland has come to an end, instinct is telling him that it's time to move on. Now he`s heading north, swimming towards warmer waters following his prey. A journey that takes him far out into the open ocean that is the Pacific. 

...............................................................

And so the Australian portion of this story has come to an end. From the next chapter onward we`re gonna go on a northward migration into the Pacific, towards foreign waters, new lands and we`re gonna encounter more of the unique wildlife of the Albian. More sea reptiles, more theropods and definitely more pterosaurs.

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WDGHK
D.Jovanović
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
Montenegro
Not much you need to know other than that I`m one guy with a strong affinity for both natural science and visual media, mainly television and movies, preferably of the animated variety, and I post content related to it.

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:iconelsqiubbonator:
ElSqiubbonator Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2018
I sent you a piece of fan-art you might like. Did you see it?
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:iconkaijufanboy17:
Kaijufanboy17 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2018
I'm looking through the comments section of this video about Dunkleosteus, and there are a LOT of people saying that it's a dinosaur. The title even says: Dunkleosteus - Deep Sea Dinosaur. I'm not kidding.
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Why would any of that interest me?
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:iconkaijufanboy17:
Kaijufanboy17 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2018
Just saying. BTW, this one guy in the comments section claims that Dunkleosteus was responsible for the extinction of Megalodon.Facepalm 
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Again, why would I care about what some randoes blab about on YouTube?  
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