March 5, 2010
Steven Spielberg, the director of the first two Jurassic Park films, may not be done with dinosaurs yet. Even though plans for another JP film have only just begun to come together, rumor has it that the famous producer and director will be helming a new television project called “Terra Nova.” Little is known about it so far, but according to the blog io9 the premise of the show will bring people into contact with prehistoric creatures:
Following a family from 100 years in the future who travel back in time 150 million years to the strange and inhospitable environs of prehistoric Earth.
Nobody knows when the show will start filming or when the first episodes might appear, and early reports have suggested that the show’s special effects will be so elaborate that it will bypass the traditional “pilot” phase and go straight into full production. This is may be good news for dinosaur fans. If the show’s protagonists are sent back in time 150 million years, they will almost certainly run into some dinosaurs and other prehistoric critters, and a big special effects budget will ensure that the creatures look much, much better than the claymation monsters of the old Land of the Lost television show. (Ed. — What, you don’t like Sleestaks?)
What sort of animals might the show feature? If it is set 150 million years ago, as early reports suggest, then it would take place during the waning days of the Jurassic during a subdivision of time called the Tithonian. During this time there were already feathered dinosaurs (like Archaeopteryx) and early representatives of famous groups of Cretaceous dinosaurs (such as the ankylosaurs and horned dinosaurs) were already running about.
Unfortunately for fans of Tyrannosaurus, though, the show would take place too early for the most famous of dinosaurs to make an appearance. During the Late Jurassic the relatives of Tyrannosaurus were still pretty small and probably covered with feathers. (Stokesosaurus, an approximately 12-foot-long relative of Tyrannosaurus found in England and Utah, was about as big as early tyrant dinosaurs got.) There were still plenty of other large predatory dinosaurs, though. Allosaurus and Torvosaurus were among the top predators of the time, though (in my opinion, anyway) some of the weirdest and most wonderful large theropods were those present a few million years later during the Early Cretaceous.
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