Many years ago, I can’t remember exactly when, I spent the majority of a wonderful Thanksgiving Day watching a marathon of dinosaur documentaries on PBS. I do not remember what the series was called, I don’t remember how many of episodes there were, nor do I remember the year they were aired, but I do remember the dinosaur animation. Someone has been kind enough to put some of the paleo-vignettes up on YouTube and it’s definitely a bittersweet experience seeing them again. One the one hand, I loved the show as a kid (my parents had to tear me away from it so the annual consumption of the dino-descendant carcass could begin), but seeing them now nearly resulted on me rolling on the floor laughing. I won’t specifically go into what’s wrong with each of these videos (at least not yet), but it seems to me that the dinosaurs are both new and very old. They’re not waddling about, dragging their tails; they seem very active and dynamic, yet they’re exhibiting behaviors that were in vogue during the Charles R. Knight era (in fact the Tyrannosaurus/Triceratops fight seems to play up the whole “eternal enemies” narrative). I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I saw Stegosaurus menacingly flattening its plates at the offending Ceratosaurus, but I will leave a fuller discussion of stegosaurs and their armor for another day.
Charles R. Knight’s famous painting of a “duel” between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. It is one of the most well-known (if not the most well-known) images in all of paleo-imagery.