The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs
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The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs is a two-part BBC documentary, presented by Bill Oddie, in which a group of scientists test out the strength of dinosaur weaponry using biomechanics. The first episode determines the winner of a battle between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, and second compares the strength of an ankylosaur and Velociraptor. The programmes were broadcast on BBC 1 in August and September 2005. In the US, The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs was known as Dinosaur Face-Off.
Episodes and Animals
These are the episodes and the evidence revealed in them.
1 T. rex vs. Triceratops
- Evidence of head injuries on Triceratops indicates Tyrannosaurus rex attacked living Triceratops.
- Using a steel Tyrannosaurus skull, scientists learned that Tyrannosaurus could easily crush a small car.
- Scientists learn that Tyrannosaurus could run at a maximum of 25 mph.
- Scanning an endocast from Tyrannosaurus's skull, scientists theorise that Tyrannosaurus had a brain similar to that of a modern-day alligator.
- Tyrannosaurus had good vision, and a good sense of smell.
- Tyrannosaurus could bite through bone, at a bite force of at least four tons per square inch.
- Doing a crash test with an artificial Triceratops skull, made of resin, scientists learn that Triceratops probably didn't charge at predators, for its skull would likely break.
- Triceratops may have gored its predators.
- Triceratops was slower (15 mph) than Tyrannosaurus, but more agile.
An even match. In the episode, it is shown that if the Tyrannosaurus makes a surprise attack, it might kill the Triceratops, but if the herbivore discovers the trap, it could beat his opponent and kill it.
Outcome 1: (Winner, Tyrannosaurus) The T. rex is seen stalking the Triceratops. It suddenly runs out of hiding, and being faster it overtakes the Triceratops. The T. rex bites into the Triceratops' neck, knocks it over, and eats it.
Outcome 2: (Winner, Triceratops) The T. rex is wandering through the forest looking for food. It soon comes across two fighting Triceratops. When the two are done fighting, the T. rex singles out one of them as a potential target. After picking its victim, the T. rex charges, but the Triceratops sees it in time and turns around to face its attacker. The T. rex bites the horn of the Triceratops, but is shaken off. The herbivore tries to retreat, but the T. rex chomps on the Triceratops' frill. After doing a mock charge, the Triceratops charges at T. rex and rams its horns into the latter's belly. T. rex limps away, falls down, and dies. The Triceratops watches it die and then goes back to foraging.
2 Velociraptor vs. Tarchia
- Velociraptor was only the size of a turkey.
- Velociraptor had feathers.
- A robotic Velociraptor leg provides evidence that Velociraptor didn't disembowel its prey.
- The fossil of a Velociraptor fighting a Protoceratops shows that the Velociraptor pierced the neck of its prey, possibly to stab the vital arteries or the jugular vein.
- Velociraptor's wings were used for balance and agility, like an ostrich.
- Along with its claws, Velociraptor's teeth were useful weapons.
- Velociraptor most likely hunted in small packs.
- Teeth of this dinosaur were found among its victims.
- The biomechanical claw provides evidence that the Velociraptor couldn't penetrate the ankylosaur's armour, when tested on a crocodile skin, it would even break.
- Tarchia was similar to a crocodile's, though significantly harder.
- Young crocodiles have no armour, especially on the neck. Baby ankylosaurs were probably similar.
- A robotic ankylosaur tail shows that the tail club could break wood and bone with ease.
- This dinosaur's armour and club was used only on more threatening predators than Velociraptor.
- In the U.S version, it was known as Ankylosaurus, although Tarchia itself may have been preyed by the raptors. The Tarchia in question, as implied by the fossil specimen of multiple juveniles, may in fact have been the Mongolian cousin of the North American Ankylosaurus.
The Tarchia would win, although Velociraptor could easily kill young Ankylosaurs (the Armor is not ready yet and can be easily penetrated).
Outcome 1: (Winner, Tarchia) The Tarchia is being harassed by two Velociraptors. They try to attack it multiple times but the armor proves too thick. The Tarchia eventually drives them away by swinging its tail (one blow would have killed the Velociraptors).
Outcome 2: (Winner, Velociraptor) The mother Tarchia is grazing and her young browse very close to her to avoid danger. But one of them wanders off to an unsafe distance. A couple of Velociraptors observe the feeding dinosaur. They lay a trap around the baby. Suddenly one of them bursts out of cover to stampede the baby. The baby escapes the raptor only to be driven into the clutches of the other. The two Velociraptors attack the baby, slashing with their claws. The baby tries desperately to defend itself with its tail but is inexperienced and is quickly overwhelmed. One of the Velociraptors drives a claw into the baby's neck, killing it. The raptors have the baby as a meal.
- Tarbosaurus appears in the second episode briefly. It fights the ankylosaur, and loses (the tail-whip broke its leg).
- It was related to Tyrannosaurus.
- It was the top predator in the Mongolian plains.
- Protoceratops appears briefly in two fights against Velociraptor. The first is a re-enactment of the fighting dinosaurs scene, while the second pits it against two Velociraptors, which the latter wins.
- Its beak and bony head were powerful weapons, but because of its small size, Protoceratops was most likely preyed upon by many Mongolian predators.
- Manning, P. L., Payne, D., Pennicott, J., Barrett, P. M., & Ennos, R. A. (2006). Dinosaur killer claws or climbing crampons?. Biology Letters, 2(1), 110-112.