When Dinosaurs Roamed America
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|When Dinosaurs Roamed America|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||2|
|Running time||91 minutes|
|Original network||Discovery Channel|
When Dinosaurs Roamed America (shortened to When Dinosaurs Roamed outside of the U.S.) is a two-hour American television program (produced in the style of a traditional nature documentary) that first aired on Discovery Channel in 2001.
It was directed by Pierre de Lespinois and narrated by actor John Goodman. The featured dinosaurs were designed by Paleo-artist and art director Mark Dubeau, noted for creating dinosaurs for many other Discovery Channel and National Geographic specials. The dinosaur animation was accomplished by animator Don Waller at Meteor Studios, in Montreal, Canada. The music was composed by Christopher Franke (ex-member from Tangerine Dream).
When Dinosaurs Roamed America premiered to 5 million viewers.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Awards and nominations
- 3 Related programs
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
Late Triassic segment (220 million years ago)
- Mammal (live-acted by an eastern quoll)
The program starts in the Late Triassic, near modern-day New York City in the Newark Supergroup. The narrator explains how the Permian mass extinction led to new forms of life, including, eventually, the most extraordinary creatures ever to walk the planet, the dinosaurs. The camera tracks a Coelophysis through the woods. The program depicts Coelophysis as preying mainly on small animals, such as insects and Icarosaurus. It encounters other, larger non-dinosaurian archosaurs such as Rutiodon and Desmatosuchus. The quick Coelophysis is portrayed as a very successful inhabitant of this world.
Early Jurassic segment (200 million years ago)
The program moves on to the Early Jurassic of Pennsylvania, showing a pack of Syntarsus.[note 1] These dinosaurs, closely related to Coelophysis, are hunting the primitive herbivorous dinosaur Anchisaurus, only to be driven away by a Dilophosaurus, which kills the Anchisaurus to feed its young. The narrator then explains Syntarsus and Dilophosaurus will become the gigantic carnivores such as Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, while Anchisaurus will become the sauropods.
Late Jurassic segment (150 million years ago)
The show skips to prehistoric Utah during the Late Jurassic period. The region has been engulfed by a severe drought as the seasonal rain has failed to arrive. A predatory Ceratosaurus stalks a family of Dryosaurus, including a mother and two youngsters. The predator eventually breaks its cover and charges after the small dinosaurs as they scatter. The Dryosaurus can only flee but the Ceratosaurus is quicker than they are and catches up, grabbing and killing one of the juveniles. The Ceratosaurus feasts while the others escape into a grove of pine trees and run into a herd of sauropods called Camarasaurus. They will be safe around the gentle giants. A male Stegosaurus fights off the attacking Ceratosaurus, the same individual from the earlier sequence, later on using his spiked tail and follows a female Stegosaurus by constantly displaying his plates. Eventually, the female decides that he is a healthy individual and the two mate. With the onset of the rainy season, a herd of Apatosaurus arrive, followed by an Allosaurus who launches an assault against the herd while the sauropods graze but is unsuccessful due to their size and strength. The Allosaurus subsequently kills the Ceratosaurus that attacked the Dryosaurus and finally is able to feed. Later while on the move, one Apatosaurus stumbles over a fallen tree and tumbles off of a 20 foot high cliff and cripples itself. The sauropod is mortally wounded, and its agonized bellowing is picked up by the hungry Allosaurus. When the Allosaurus arrive, they begin to eat the sauropod alive.
Mid Cretaceous segment (90 million years ago)
The program then shows a forest located in New Mexico during the Middle Cretaceous period. Small predatory coelurosaurs scamper through the foliage and steal pieces of meat from a dead Zuniceratops. This smaller cousin of Triceratops had been killed by raptors and the hungry dinosaurs are feasting. The raptors chase off a lone dromaeosaur as it tries to steal some meat. The lone dromaeosaur then tries to attack a grazing Nothronychus, only to be slashed by its long claws and knocked over. Uninjured, the raptor retreats. An old male Zuniceratops is battling for dominance with a younger but healthier male whilst the herd members look on. The younger dinosaur gores the older herd leader with its right horn, wounding it. The sounds of battle are picked up by raptors and the hungry creatures follow the sounds to a clearing and watch from the foliage as the battle plays out before attacking.
The injured Zuniceratops is attacked by the pack of dromaeosaurs and is fatally wounded. Another Zuniceratops headbutts the attacking dromaeosaur and tosses it off the struggling male. The dromaeosaurs retreat but the old Zuniceratops will not last long. Weeks later, a thunderstorm blows in and lightning illuminates the darkened skies. Panicked dinosaurs scatter but the old Zuniceratops cannot get up. As it sounds its distress call, the dromaeosaurs return and surround the wounded dinosaur. The raptors attack and soon kill it. Meanwhile, lightning ignites the dry vegetation. Fire springs up, and most of the dinosaurs scatter in all directions. Zuniceratops panic for safety and the Nothronychus follows. However, the feasting dromaeosaurs are too distracted by eating and fire surrounds the region. The raptors burn to death along with their prey. But some raptors do flee and make it to safety along with some of the other creatures.
Late Cretaceous segment (65 million years ago)
- Ornithomimus (not identified, revealed on website)
- Edmontosaurus (identified as its synonym Anatotitan)
- Purgatorius (live-acted by opossums)
- Turtle (live-acted)
- Bird (live-acted)
- Spider (live-acted)
The program explains that dinosaurs similar to Zuniceratops evolved into the famous Triceratops. In the Late Cretaceous, Anatotitan and Triceratops browse on a rolling grassland bordered by tropical jungle, while Ornithomimus peck at roots and other plants in the area. Flying pterosaurs such as Quetzalcoatlus soar overhead, looking for carcasses. A young Tyrannosaurus rex arrives on the scene, and the Triceratops form a defensive circle around the juveniles and display their powerful horns whilst the Tyrannosaurus attempts to get through and roars repeatedly but the Triceratops stay to fight instead of fleeing. Unable to get past the horns of the defensive Triceratops, the Tyrannosaurus attacks a Quetzalcoatlus, but the pterosaur launches off and flies away from the hungry theropod. The Tyrannosaurus goes back into the trees and the Triceratops become less agitated.
At night, the young Tyrannosaurus returns to its parents, and the mother Tyrannosaurus bites it for failing the hunt. The next day, the young Tyrannosaurus and its three siblings are taught by their mother to hunt. They target a herd of Anatotitan grazing in a forest clearing and after bursting from the trees, the herd scatters and flees. The four Tyrannosaurus chase after one individual and it runs straight into the forest where the mother emerges from the bushes, and, grabbing it, kills the unfortunate hadrosaur by breaking its neck. She then roars before the feast begins.
As they begin to feast, a huge asteroid, 6 miles across, hurtles towards the planet at 45000 miles an hour and as it enters the atmosphere friction turns it into a blazing missile. The asteroid crosses the ocean in just 4 minutes, crashing into the Gulf of Mexico. The impact gouges out a crater 120 miles wide and sends an incandescent plume of dust, glass and ash into the atmosphere which falls back to earth as fiery debris. The blast wave radiates outward from the impact in a circle and in minutes, everything for hundreds of miles is incinerated by the intense heat or blown apart by the blast wave. Dinosaurs in the region are vaporized in a matter of minutes.
In North America, plants and animals suffer a different fate. Some are incinerated by the mounting heat whilst others succumb to shock waves generated by the collision. Fleeing Triceratops and Anatotitan are caught by the speeding ejecta cloud and destroyed. The feasting Tyrannosaurs watch in horror as a burning blast wave hurtles towards them and flee as pieces of fiery rock rain down. Eventually, all the region's dinosaurs die including the Tyrannosaurus family. A few hours after impact, a heavy cloud of dust and ash settles over America, and temperatures drop as sunlight and heat can no longer reach the surface of the planet. Gasses such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide are burned by the heat and are washed out of the atmosphere as acid rain.
Two months after impact, the sun finally reaches the surface as the heavy cloud of ash clears away. The disaster is over, but 90% of all leaf bearing trees, ferns, vines and plants have been obliterated, and 70% of the animals have died out. Most dinosaurs are extinct.
Despite the depressing and traumatic event, life is described as being resilient, and a turtle is shown emerging from the water and a bird flies overhead, explained by the narrator as the only dinosaurs left. Out of the ashes and charred debris, several small possum-like mammals (Purgatorius) emerge, and the narrator explains that small mammals such as these will eventually evolve into humans, and think back in awe to a time "when dinosaurs roamed America".
Awards and nominations
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- 2002 - Outstanding Sound Editing for Non-Fiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera) Michael Payne, David Esparza, Nancy Nugent and Jonathan Wareham (Won)
- 2002 - Outstanding Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More) Pierre de Lespinois, Fran Lo Cascio, Tomi Bednar Landis, John Copeland, Georgann Kane, and Don Waller (Nominated)
- The Animal World (1956, narrated by Theodore von Eltz, directed by Irwin Allen)
- Dinosaurs: The Terrible Lizards (1970, directed by Wah Ming Chang who reedited a new version of this same film in 1986)
- Horizon: The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs (1976, season 13 / episode 2, narrated by Paul Vaughan, written and produced by Robin Brightwell & Robin Bates)
- Dinosaurs: Fun, Fact and Fantasy (1982, with Derek Griffiths as the voice of Dil the Crocodile, directed by Clive Doig)
- Dinosaur! (1985, hosted by Christopher Reeve, directed by Robert Guenette)
- Dinosaurs! – A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time! (1987, narrated by Josette DiCarlo, hosted by Fred Savage, directed by Ray Cioni & Kelli Bixler; claymation footage from the 1980 short film Dinosaur directed by Will Vinton)
- The Infinite Voyage: The Great Dinosaur Hunt (1989, season 2 / episode 2, narrated by Fritz Weaver, directed by Lionel Friedberg)
- The Great Dinosaur Hunt (1991, narrated by Kenneth Welsh, directed by Tom Radford & Andy Thomson; in spite of sharing a similar title, this documentary is completely different than the Infinite Voyage programme: that one was released in 1991 within the GoodTimes Home Video collection of VHS tapes, edited by Radford and Thomson with the same reels obtained during the filming of The Hunt for China's Dinosaurs)
- The Hunt for China's Dinosaurs (1991, narrated by Peter Thomas, directed by Tom Radford & Andy Thomson; this documentary was first aired as a NOVA programme on February the 5th, 1991, and was edited by Radford and Thomson with the same reels obtained during the filming of The Great Dinosaur Hunt)
- Dinosaur! (1991, four-part miniseries, hosted by Walter Cronkite, directed by Jim Black & Christopher Rowley; in spite of sharing the same title, this four-part miniseries has nothing to do with the TV documentary film that was hosted by Christopher Reeve in 1985)
- The Dinosaurs! (1992, four-part miniseries, narrated by Barbara Feldon, directed by Trudi Brown & Kathi White)
- Dinosaurs: Messages in Stone (1993, hosted by Leslie Nielsen, directed by John Robichaud; this documentary was re-released in 1998 under the title Dinosaur Park)
- Eyewitness: Dinosaur (1994, narrated by Andrew Sachs, produced by Ben Southwell)
- Paleoworld (1994-1997, 4 seasons / 50 episodes, narrated by Ben Gazzara, directed by Greg Francis)
- Dinosaurs: Myths & Reality (1995, hosted by Fred Applegate, directed by Graham Holloway)
- The Ultimate Guide: Tyrannosaurus rex (1996, narrated by Will Lyman, directed by Jane Armstrong)
- Beyond T-Rex (1997, narrated by Michael McNally, directed by Charles C. Stuart)
- T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (1998, directed by Brett Leonard)
- When Dinosaurs Ruled (1999, six-part miniseries, narrated by Jeff Goldblum, directed by Tony Mitchell)
- Walking with Dinosaurs (1999, six-part miniseries, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, directed by Tim Haines & Jasper James)
- Walking with Beasts (2001, six-part miniseries, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, directed by Jasper James & Nigel Paterson)
- Valley of the T. rex (2001, narrated by Stephen Kemble, directed by Reuben Aaronson & James McQuillan)
- The Ballad of Big Al (2001, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, produced by Tim Haines & Jasper James)
- Chased by Dinosaurs (2002, hosted by Nigel Marven, directed by Tim Haines & Jasper James)
- Horizon: The Mystery of the Jurassic (2002, narrated by Jack Fortune, written and directed by Jonathan Renouf)
- Walking with Cavemen (2003, four-part miniseries, hosted and narrated by Robert Winston, directed by Richard Dale & Pierre de Lespinois)
- Sea Monsters (2003, three-part miniseries, hosted by Nigel Marven, directed by Jasper James)
- Dinosaur Planet (2003, four-part miniseries, narrated by Christian Slater, hosted by Scott D. Sampson, directed by Pierre de Lespinois)
- Before We Ruled the Earth (2003, two-part miniseries, narrated by Linda Hunt & John Slattery, directed by Pierre de Lespinois)
- Walking with Monsters (2005, three-part miniseries, Kenneth Branagh, directed by Chloe Leland & Tim Haines)
- Prehistoric Park (2006, six-part miniseries, narrated by David Jason, hosted by Nigel Marven, directed by Sid Bennett, Karen Kelly & Matthew Thompson)
- Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (2007, narrated by Donald Sutherland, directed by Marc Fafard)
- Dinosaurs Alive! (2007, narrated by Michael Douglas, directed by David Clark & Bayley Silleck)
- Jurassic Fight Club (2008, 12-part miniseries, narrated by Erik Thompson, directed by Kreg Lauterbach)
- Clash of the Dinosaurs (2009, four-part miniseries, narrated by Jason Hildebrandt, directed by Nick Green)
- Bizarre Dinosaurs (2009, narrated by Peter Cullen, directed by Jenny Kubo)
- Dinosaurs Decoded (2009, narrated by Michael Carroll, written, produced and directed by Dan Levitt)
- Prehistoric Assassins (2010, two-part miniseries -"Claws and Jaws" & "Blood in the Water"-, narrated by Phil Crowley, written and produced by Sean Dash)
- Prehistoric (2010, four-part miniseries, written and produced by Sven Berkemeier)
- Last Day of the Dinosaurs (2010, narrated by Bill Mondy, directed by Richard Dale, this documentary reuses footage from Clash of the Dinosaurs)
- Land of Dinosaurs (2010, directed by Lee Dong-hui)
- Tyrannosaurus Sex (2010, narrated by Michael Carroll, directed by Gabriel Gornell)
- Dinosaurs, Myths and Monsters (2011, written and hosted by Tom Holland, directed by Jamie Muir)
- Planet Dinosaur (2011, six-part miniseries, narrated by John Hurt, directed by Nigel Paterson)
- Extinct: A Horizon Guide to Dinosaurs (2011, hosted by Dallas Campbell, directed by Penny Palmer, this documentary reuses Horizon footage)
- Dinosaur Revolution (2011, narrated by Rick Robles, directed by David Krentz & Erik Nelson)
- Dinotasia (2012, narrated by Werner Herzog, directed by David Krentz, Erik Nelson and David E. Duncan, Dinotasia utilises used and unused footage from Dinosaur Revolution)
- Adventures of Ceratops (2014, two-part miniseries, directed by Hong Sang-woon, Kim Hwan-gyun & Lee Dong-hui)
- Dinosaur Britain (2015, two-part miniseries, hosted by Ellie Harrison, directed by Gareth Johnson)
- "THE RATINGS". Entertainment Weekly (607). 3 August 2001. Retrieved 26 December 2011.