Dino Docs! Prehistoric Planet

Prehistoric Planet Two Trailer: Initial Thoughts

Here we go!

After months of waiting (including two particularly anxious weeks after Apple TV teased upcoming previews), paleonerds finally have been rewarded with a trailer for the second season of Prehistoric Planet.

It certainly did not disappoint!

The trailer, published by Apple TV early Tuesday morning, is a brief yet tantalizing glimpse at season two. In the minute-long trailer, audiences are greeted with a variety of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life, expanding the already vast scope of the series. While there isn’t much content to analyze, a little prepper ahead of season two’s release is probably for the best. Plus, a little bit of speculating never hurt anybody. So, why not overanalyze?

The season two trailer opens with the mating ritual of the pterosaur Hatzegopteryx. While Hatzegopteryx was featured in season 1, episode 5, its appearance was brief and much different than in the trailer (what with the child murder in S1). The difference in appearance between the male and female is notable, given that some pterosaurs (notably Pteranodon and the Tapejarid lineage) have been noted to display dimorphism in crest appearance and size between sexes. While dimorphism has not been presently observed in the Azhdarchid lineage (to which Hatzegopteryx belongs), it remains possible that males possessed more elaborate ornamentation for sexual selection. Otherwise, what’s the point of a massive head crest?

Male (right) vs female (left) Hatzegopteryx. ©Apple TV

The next part of the trailer features a variety of species in short glimpses, with raptors, sauropods, and tyrannosaurids being featured heavily. Some species are easy to identify, such as the sauropod Isisaurus, which can be recognized by its unique appearance and proximity to the Deccan lava traps of India (I doubt this bodes well for the sauropod…). Others, notably the raptors, are much harder to identify, so much so that I’m not sure if both are troodontids or if one is a dromaeosaur. Regardless, their designs are refreshingly distinct from others featured previously, deviating from trends of previous dinosaur documentaries who recycle designs. The unhinged appearance of the second raptor certainly helps this distinction:

©Apple TV

Besides dinosaurs, birds take a central role in the trailer. In one shot, a troodontid plucks a bird out of midair, while another features an aquatic bird (likely Hesperornis) swimming through a shoal of fish for a meal. This addresses a species gap in Prehistoric Planet, given that birds were absent from the first season despite their proliferation during the Cretaceous. Birds aren’t the only previously missing lineages that will appear in season two. While not featured in the trailer, promotional material indicates that ankylosaurs and pachycephalosaurs will take on more substantial roles. This growing diversity of Cretaceous lineages is brilliant, giving audiences a full view of life on Earth 66 million years ago. However, one must wonder if extant species (sharks, crocodiles, snakes, etc.) will appear…

Pachycephalosaurus. ©Apple TV

My highlight has to be the duel between Tyrannosaurus rex and the pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus over the carcass of a dead sauropod. I know what you might be pondering: wouldn’t T. rex mop the floor with a mere pterosaur? And weren’t sauropods extinct in North America when T. rex was around? To answer the first question, this may have been the case under normal circumstances, but Quetzalcoatlus was no ordinary pterosaur. With a 10-meter wingspan, this giant Azhdarchid would have reached giraffe heights on the ground, making it a ferocious opponent for even the mighty Tyrannosaurus.

Who you got? I’ll take the underdog and go with the murder-stork Quetzalcoatlus! ©Apple TV

As for your second question, sauropods were present in North America during the Late Cretaceous. The giant titanosaur Alamosaurus is known from fossils in Mexico and the Southern U.S., making this showdown even more plausible. I hope we see a fight between Alamosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, which then cascades into a showdown between Quetzalcoatlus and Tyrannosaurus. If this mega-duel were to occur, I promise that the heads of the entire paleo-community may explode from the sheer awesomeness!

The final moment of the trailer features the devil-frog Beelzebufo scaring away the sauropod Rapetosaurus. While it may seem ridiculous for a frog to scare away a multi-tonne dinosaur, it shouldn’t be understated how aggressive a giant frog (who may be protecting his tadpoles) could be. Plus, have you ever heard the adage about elephants and mice?

While it may be hard to spot, Beelzebufo is definitely in the shot; see if you can spot him! ©Apple TV

The design of Rapetosaurus may be my favourite of the new species featured. The presence of osteoderms (armoured plates) on its back is a brilliant touch and a reminder that even gargantuan size wasn’t always enough protection against carnivorous dinosaurs…

While the trailer is brief, it’s a terrific reminder of what Prehistoric Planet is: an unprecedented spectacle that brings life to the dinosaurs we all love. With passionate creators who are very much part of the paleo community, there’s no reason to think that Prehistoric Planet will drop off in quality anytime soon.

Season two of Prehistoric Planet will premiere on May 22nd on Apple TV. Check out the link to the trailer below!

All images in this article are credited to Apple TV.

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