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Dino “Docs”: Ancient Aliens, S4E10 Or: Aliens did not Nuke the Dinosaurs.

Have you ever seen something so strangely out of place that you end up questioning for hours how it ended up there? That’s how I felt seeing Ancient Aliens under non-fiction. But is it as horrendously inaccurate as you could possibly imagine?

Have you ever seen something so strangely out of place that you end up questioning for hours how it ended up there?

For example, did you know that the TV show “Ancient Aliens” is classified as non-fiction on Apple TV?

I know right! Who in their right mind would have thought to put it there?

For those blissfully unaware of the never-ending sludge that is Ancient Aliens, allow me to brief you. Since 2009, Ancient Aliens has detailed how aliens have supposedly influenced humanity from the very beginning of our existence. Everything from the pyramids to the bible is attributed to aliens in a series of propaganda riddled, misinformed garbage that takes itself way too seriously. Amongst other things, the show has been called absurd, destructive to science and even racist. So, when I learned that the toxic waste bin of television did an episode on dinosaurs and their connection to aliens, I had to investigate.

I spent $3 dollars on Apple TV for the season 4 episode entitled “Aliens and Dinosaurs.” Do I regret that purchase? No! For 45 minutes, I alternated between laughing, yelling, crying, and almost pulling my hair out at the insanity of what was in front of me. In my delirium came clarity: I needed to trash this lunacy. In this article, I will go to painstaking lengths to point out every issue I had with the “ancient astronaut theorists” and their so-called “truths.” Buckle your seatbelts everyone; this may be a long one.

Minor – yet infuriating – Infractions

The sheer number of small errors present in this episode is far greater than any previous dinosaur film I have discussed. Most of these issues aren’t simply due to being outdated, either; most would have been incorrect at the time of its 2012 release. Here is a list of the infractions I noticed, though be warned: the number could be far greater.  

  • A Mosasaur is shown to be a dinosaur; rather evolved from lizards.
  • Upper size of sauropods stated to be over 100 tonnes – too high of an estimate
  • The claim that everything in the age of the dinosaurs was bigger; not the case, as small animals including mammals, insects, turtles were around. Some pterosaurs and flying dinosaurs were bat-sized as well.
  • An Arthropleura is shown to have lived alongside dinosaurs, when it went extinct over 50 million years prior to the appearance of the first dinosaurs
  • A Dunkleosteus is shown as living alongside dinosaurs, when it went extinct over 100 million years prior to the appearance of the first dinosaurs
  • Ancient astronaut theorist Jason Martell says, “we have no way of knowing their intelligence.” Scans of dinosaur skulls have revealed the shape and size of dinosaur brains, giving an in-depth view of their varying levels of intelligence.

  • Allosaurus is shown to have been at the end-Cretaceous extinction event. Allosaurus went extinct in the Late Jurassic, some 80 million years prior. Did the show not have better stock footage?
  • Suggests that all birds are the descendants of Archaeopteryx. Most high school biology students could explain that this is not how evolution works; evolution does not behave in a straight line.
  • States “Why did only the dinosaurs die?” Dinosaurs were far from the only animals that went extinct during the K-T extinction, as marine reptiles, pterosaurs, ammonites, and many other animals went extinct too. If aliens were so intent on destroying dinosaurs so mankind could exist, then what beef did they have with plankton?

What Really Killed off the dinosaurs?

Why did the dinosaurs go extinct? You would think the giant crater in Mexico would present an open and shut case, yet our wonderful show throws doubt on this well-established hypothesis. At various points throughout the show, the ancient astronaut theorists speculate that:

  • The extinction of the dinosaurs was brought on by Aliens. Why, pray tell? Were they told by an alien? No evidence towards this hypothesis is ever brought forward, making it more ridiculous.
  • The theorists state that “how the dinosaurs disappeared is an open question to which science has no answer.” May I reiterate that the asteroid hypothesis is sciences’ answer to this problem?  The statement is even worse when you consider the fact that the episode refers to the theory on multiple occasions.
  • At the 9:35 mark, an alien ship is shown to shoot at a herd of dinosaurs with a laser. Do what you want with that information; I fell out of my seat laughing.

  • Was the asteroid that hit the dinosaurs pushed by an alien spacecraft? According to Ancient Aliens, it’s possible. The main thing I’m annoyed at is that I can’t disprove this. I’ll just move on.
  • You’ll never believe it: the theorists claim that the dinosaurs were nuked by aliens. Their evidence comes in the form of iridium found within sediments at the end-cretaceous extinction event. This compound is a key component of meteors and has been instrumental evidence in the asteroid theory; yet our theorists claim it comes from nuclear bombs. If aliens used nuclear bombs, then how come it only killed dinosaurs and other large Mesozoic animals and not every other animal? Could small mammals somehow survive complete annihilation better than the dinosaurs? The answer is straightforward: no.

  • Dinosaur fossils are said to be painted in lead to hide radiation. First, radiation isn’t present in most dinosaur fossils in dangerous amounts. Second, most real dinosaur fossils on display aren’t painted at all. Lastly, casts of dinosaur fossils – the plaster replicas found on most displays – are in fact painted, because the plaster used is white.
  • According to our theorists, evidence of the dinosaurs being nuked exists in ancient Hindu texts. I’m sorry, what? You’re saying that ancient Hindu witnessed and survived a global nuking of the dinosaurs??? A nuking with an epicenter in the Gulf of Mexico? While I don’t think this is the absolute peak of ridiculousness in the episode, it certainly is very close.

While this all seems ridiculous, it gets even better. Even in the face of wild inaccuracy, Ancient Aliens can always find ways to outdo itself.

Even Though we Said Dinosaurs Went Extinct, Maybe They Didn’t!

A major source of agony I had sitting through this rubbish was its constant ability to contradict itself. Even though the show says that the dinosaurs went extinct due to Aliens, they also say that dinosaurs didn’t go extinct at all. Rather, the show speculates that:

  • The ancient maya living near the Chicxulub crater somehow means they encountered living dinosaurs. This claim is (of course) backed by no logic, reason, or evidence. This claim is even more illogical when you consider the fact that the epicenter of the asteroid would be the very last place that the dinosaurs would have survived in.
  • At multiple points, so called “dinosaurs” are shown being depicted in the artwork of ancient cultures. The only problem is most of the art looks nothing like any species of dinosaur.
  • A supposed Stegosaurus carving from the ancient Angkor Wat temple is used to say that ancient cultures encountered dinosaurs. A few things: first, the sculpture could be based off the fossils of a dinosaur, not the actual animal. More importantly, it doesn’t look like a Stegosaurus, with a long, horned head and a notably spike-less tail. What makes it more infuriating is that the only actual paleontologist on the program – Luis M. Chiappe – debunks this claim immediately, stating that “ancient cultures would have encountered dinosaur remains.” Dinosaur remains, that being bones, not a living animal.

  • The ancient carving of a snake head in Botswana is interpreted to be that of a dinosaur, with the main problem being that it looks like a snake, and not a dinosaur. The theorist on screen ponders if the structure was “based on something reptilian in the world of our ancestors.” Yes: they’re called snakes.
  • A footprint is shown that contains a dinosaur and human entwined in one, supposedly from the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas. It turns out that the footprints shown were confirmed to be fakes, or at the least dinosaur footprints – in 1986. Talk about outdated.
  • One moment of blatant misinformation took me completely out of the episode. On screen, an image of two footprints pops onto stage – one is claimed to be a dinosaur, one is claimed to be a human, and both are outlined clearly. There is just one problem with the “human” footprint: IT HAS THE DINOSAURIAN THREE TOES!! I’m not sure how this error came about, perhaps the producers thought they could just ignore the three clawed toes on a human, but either way, this was far and away the most idiotic moment of the episode. It was made worse later when the screen zooms in on the obvious dinosaur footprint and once again tries to get the viewer to believe it was a human.

  • Hundreds of carved rocks from South America containing dinosaurs on them, known as the “Ica Stones,” are said to prove that dinosaurs lived with man. The stones are well known to be fake; in 1973, the creator of the stones, Basilio Uschuya, admitted that they were all fakes. In a shocking twist, Uschuya admitted this to Erich Van Däniken, a frequent star in this very episode of Ancient Aliens. To be told that an item is fake and then to continue acting like they’re real is quite audacious.

What makes the contradiction even more infuriating is that it alternates at various times throughout the episode. For the first ten minutes, it was aliens killed the dinosaurs; then for the next 20 it became dinosaurs and humans lived together; then for the next 15 it was back to aliens killed off the dinosaurs! If you have a kooky, out of this world insane theory about the connections between aliens and dinosaurs, then stick with one! Don’t present two clearly contradictory views and act like nothing happened!

Aliens Created Them!!

Giorgio A. Tsoukalos – the infamous “Ancient Aliens hair guy” – claims that “dinosaurs were an early experiment by extraterrestrials.” Is he suggesting that aliens created all life on earth? Do the ancient astronaut theorists believe aliens were gods, then? In either scenario, this can be interpreted as nothing but insane ramblings. At another point, the theorists state that aliens wanted to replace dinosaurs with humans. If this was the case, then why would there be a 66-million-year gap between dinosaurs and humans?

Dinosaurs Can’t be Dated?!

The “theorist” Michael Cremo claims that there is no “scientific method” to date rocks, which include dinosaur fossils, as radiocarbon dating can’t effectively trace back to the time of the dinosaurs. This is a half-truth – while radiocarbon dating cannot trace back to the dinosaurs as the required carbon decays long before paleontologists can measure its decay, this is far from the only way that paleontologists date fossils. Instead of using the radioactive half-life of carbon to date fossils, paleontologists can just use other substances found in bone and the surrounding rocks. These dates are often precise, with only a few-thousand-year window of possible times. Not bad for dating fossils that are millions of years old! On top of this, the show claims that no fossils that have been dated appear in peer reviewed journals, when a simple search on Nature proves otherwise. Perhaps they should try factchecking?

What makes this speculation funny comes when the alien theorists speculate that Ica Stones provide evidence of human-dinosaur interactions. If there is no way to carbon date rocks, then how do you know these rocks came from ancient societies and not the present day? The contradictions come at you so fast, you’d think they almost want you to be confused beyond belief. Oh wait, they totally do!

A Guarantee from the Extraterrestrials.

Late in the episode, our theorists speculate on how some animals living in the cretaceous, like coelacanths, crocodiles and turtles managed to survive where the dinosaurs failed. Internet meme Giorgio A. Tsoukalos reasons that:

“I think it’s possible a coelacanth survived due to a direct guarantee from extraterrestrials.”

Well, I think this line was the last straw. How did the coelacanth make a deal with aliens??? Can coelacanths communicate with supposedly advanced beings? Did they reason with aliens when the aliens came down to survey all life on earth? If this was the case, can I talk to a coelacanth? Maybe I’ll put one in a fishbowl so I can have my own version of Klaus from American Dad.

They’ll have you Believe scientists are Wrong.

The worst part of this torture was listening to the ancient astronaut theorists call “mainstream” scientists out for “playing games.” Throughout the episode, the narrator would act as though the mainstream scientists would look to misinform the public and that they have no way of knowing the reality of the situation. Of all the ridiculousness, this one provoked genuine anger within me. These people have never done a shred of legitimate research, nor have they read an academic paper about dinosaurs, yet this doesn’t prevent them from telling professionals how wrong they are.

In conclusion….

Some may say that Ancient Aliens is simply entertainment. However, the show is categorized as non-fiction by Apple TV and is played on the History Channel. If It’s styled like a documentary, then the information should be true, right? Or perhaps, at the very least, fact-checked?

References:

I do not take credit for any images found in this article.

Aliens meeting dinosaurs courtesy of Getty images. Read source for even more lunacy.

Dinosaur brain courtesy of the University of Manchester and the University of Cambridge, found here

Extinction courtesy of Mark Garlick, found here

Angkor Wat Stegosaurus courtesy of Ilbonito, found here

Coelacanth courtesy of Laurent Ballesta, found here

Footprints courtesy of Ancient Aliens

Black, Riley. “The Idiocy, Fabrications and Lies of Ancient Aliens.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 11 May 2012, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-idiocy-fabrications-and-lies-of-ancient-aliens-86294030/.

Black, Riley. “Stegosaurus, Rhinoceros, or Hoax?” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 12 Mar. 2009, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/stegosaurus-rhinoceros-or-hoax-40387948/.

Coppens, P (October 2001). “Jurassic library – The Ica Stones”Fortean Times. Archived from the original on 2008-08-27.

“Different Techniques for Dating Fossils: Amnh.” American Museum of Natural History, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent/human-origins/understanding-our-past/fossil-dating-methods.

“Dinosaur Valley State Park.” Dinosaur Valley State Park – Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, 10 Aug. 2021, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/dinosaur-valley.

“K–T Extinction.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., http://www.britannica.com/science/K-T-extinction.

Wilford, John Noble. “Fossils of ‘Man Tracks’ Shown to Be Dinosaurian.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 June 1986, http://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/17/science/fossils-of-man-tracks-shown-to-be-dinosaurian.html.

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