Sir David Attenborough takes a look inside the extinction of the dinosaurs in a new two-part documentary special.
BBC Earth are set to debut “Dinosaur Apocalypse” on Thursday, which is quite timely given the release of “Jurassic World: Dominion” the next day.
The docs explore “how a wealth of newly uncovered fossils may provide a never-before-seen glimpse of events on the day an asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, ending the age of the dinosaurs.
“Canadian audiences will follow presenter Sir David Attenborough and a team of scientists as they try to reconstruct a detailed picture of one of the unluckiest days for life on Earth.”
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“Dinosaur Apocalypse” features a series of stunning fossils unearthed by renowned paleontologist Robert DePalma and his team, including fish, the tooth of a T. rex, a footprint possibly made by a young T. rex, an almost complete turtle and triceratops remains, to mention a few.
The program also shows DePalma’s most recent discoveries at the Tanis site in North Dakota, with his team discovering a thick crumbly layer of rock full of ejecta spherules – tiny beads of molten glass which, over millions of years, have turned into clay.
These spherules are created by an asteroid impact that blasts molten and vaporized rock into space where it solidifies and falls back to ground as tiny spheres, a press release confirms.
Attenborough tells ET Canada, “The film is about the last day the dinosaurs lived on Earth – and the minute-by-minute detail of that day. We tend to think that the end of a [geological] period extends over decades, if not centuries, and actually the end of a period may vary around the world in different areas.
“But what’s remarkable about this, is that it was one astonishingly huge event that was worldwide. An object the size of Mount Everest hit the Earth and that was the end of the Cretaceous — and that’s an extraordinary thing to happen. And of course it’s extraordinary too because it caused the end of the dinosaurs. And life on this planet had to restart.”
He adds of the Tanis site seeming to contain evidence of the asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs, “Tanis is part of the Hell Creek formation, which I have visited. It’s a big deposit. And it contains remains from the end of the Cretaceous period…. It’s actually a big area. I saw a lot of dinosaurs eggs when we were there. I made a paleontological series 30 years ago and met Jack Horner who was one of the first operators there.”
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Attenborough also talks about some of the technology required by the film, for him to appear in the late Cretaceous alongside the creatures that lived 66 million years ago.
“I’ve done quite a bit in studios one way or another over the past few years, so I’m accustomed to doing that sort of thing.
“But we’ve gone far beyond the old days of the cinema, when you had green screens, and after filming you were able to replace the screen electronically to make you appear in any landscape you wished.
“When I walked into that studio the images were all already there, the back end of the studio was a forest on fire, and it was very, very impressive, too. It’s quite unsettling suddenly to go in and see fire leaking through the frames of a forest that aren’t in the studio, but that’s what it looks like.”
The star claims this is different than any other film on the subject: “We couldn’t have made it any other time. My breath was taken away when I first heard about the project. To anybody with any imagination at all, the notion that you could actually see fish that died at the same time as the asteroid strike, which killed the dinosaurs is very, very romantic.
“The film is so vivid I worry that people may think this is going to happen to us any moment now. But actually if there was a meteorite like this heading our way, there are plans being made on the way in which we would be able to divert it. There are strategies and plans being made to deal with that.”
“Dinosaur Apocalypse: The New Evidence” airs Thursday, June 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on BBC Earth, followed by “Dinosaur Apocalypse: The Last Day” at 10 p.m. ET/PT.