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Documentary reviews Prehistoric Planet

A Complete Guide to The Species of Prehistoric Planet: Episode Two, Deserts

The creatures of Prehistoric Planet get bigger and bolder as they take to the scorching Mesozoic sun. Part two of five!

The Prehistoric Planet species list continues!

In the first part of the list, I discussed the prehistoric animals featured in the premier. Today, I will focus on the second episode, “Deserts,” and describe the host of animals that appear in the episode. Here, the order is based on each animal’s first appearance in the episode. Spoilers will be present throughout the article, so avert your eyes if you haven’t gotten the chance to see Prehistoric Planet yet. With that out of the way, let’s get started!

Dreadnoughtus: One of the biggest of sauropod dinosaurs, Dreadnoughtus herds are shown congregating during the mating season. Watching two males battle each other for the right to mate was incredible, though I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen herbivorous dinosaurs mean mug each other before…

Dreadnoughtus

Unnamed Azhdarchid: Ever the opportunists, the unnamed azhdarchids are shown circling around a Tarbosaurus kill, waiting for their chance to eat. The only known azhdarchid from Mongolia is currently nameless, which makes “unnamed azhdarchid” its official genus name (for now, at least). 

Unnamed Azhdarchid

Tarbosaurus: Prehistoric Mongolia’s top predator and Tyrannosaurus equivalent, Tarbosaurus is shown to be a fearsome and intimidating presence. Despite this, their best scene in the episode is when a group of them forms a cuddle pile around a rotting carcass. How wholesome!

Tarbosaurus

Velociraptor: The visual depiction of everyone’s favourite raptor may surprise some, but a small, feathered killer is what the scientific evidence points towards. Equipped with killing claws that the camera zooms into more than Quentin Tarantino and feet, the Velociraptors of Prehistoric Planet are no less ferocious than their Jurassic Park cousins. 

Velociraptor

Star of the Episode – Mononykus:  An adorable dinosaur that reminded my mother of one of our dogs, a female Mononykus is shown hunting for prey within the Mongolian desert. Equipped with one claw on each hand and an Anteater’s tongue, Mononykus may be the cutest insectivore seen on film (apologies to Renfield from Dracula).

Mononykus

Barsboldia: A genus of Mongolian hadrosaurid, Barsboldia makes a brief appearance at a watering hole (get ready, the water hole is a popular spot this episode). Though there isn’t much to note, except that the way David Attenborough says “Barsboldia” is peak David Attenborough, no questions asked.

Therizinosaurus: The strangest dinosaur ever (except maybe Spinosaurus), Therizinosaurus and its massive claws makes a brief appearance. This is the only time we see it in the sunlight, and it certainly lives up to the ‘giant-feathered-pot-bellied-scythed-turkey’ moniker.

Barsboldia (Far left), the Mongolian Titan (Centre-left), and Therizinosaurus (right)

Unnamed Ankylosaurids: Literal background characters in the episode, the ankylosaurids either represent the genus Tarchia or Saichania.

Unnamed Titanosaur #1: Two nameless titanosaur sauropods appear in episode two. Since Mongolia was home to two titanosaurs in the Late Cretaceous, it’s fair to assume they are either Nemegtosaurus or Opisthocoelicaudia.  

Unnamed Titanosaur #2: Well, sort of an unnamed titanosaur. The name we get is the “Mongolian titan,” which doesn’t give us much to work with for species identification. Since this is the bigger of the two titanosaurs, and Opisthocoelicaudia was slightly larger than Nemegtosaurus, we’ll call the Mongolian titan Opisthocoelicaudia and the other Nemegtosaurus. 

Returning Star – Barbaridactylus: Featured in a much more prominent role in this episode, the pterosaur Barbaridactylus returns to court potential mates in the North African deserts. The smaller male shows why brain triumphs over brawn, though being pursued romantically by the bigger males would have been quite awkward…

Barbaridactylus

Secernosaurus: The episode’s last dinosaur is Secernosaurus, one of the only hadrosaurids from South America. The series may take a bit of liberty with the time frame here (as they did with Velociraptor). But the depiction of a unique and rarely depicted dinosaur makes up for it.

Secernosaurus

I do not take credit for any image found in this article. All images are credited to Apple TV.

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