Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Clash of the titans

Planet Dinosaur kicks off on BBC1 at 8.30 tonight with a battle between two stars of the commercial dinosaur world. Carcharodontosaurus saharicus and Spinosaurus aegyptiacus were both busy terrifying what's now Northern Africa around the middle of the Cretaceous Period. They were huge animals. Enormous. With big teeth and claws. Which are readily available for sale! They are well represented in the remains found in the Kem Kem region around Taouz, Morocco, one of the biggest and most productive dinosaur sites ever found. Before material started coming out of there in quantity, the only dinosaur teeth relatively easy to buy were from a couple of US sites and they were far more expensive. The Kem Kem teeth are so plentiful they have allowed dinosaur fossils to be sold at prices affordable to children with a little pocket money. The better examples are, of course, more costly, but a dinosaur tooth is still a dinosaur tooth. The possession of real fossils can strengthen a passion for the subject and instill desire for further learning; create a depth of respect for history that doesn't always come from pictures in a book.

Spinosaurus has seen a fairly rapid rise in fame. When I was a kid, the dinosaur hall-of-fame included  Tyrannosaurus rex, the undisputed king, Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Triceratops and the sadly-missed Brontosaurus. Today's crop of dinosaur superstars has to have Velociraptor and Spinosaurus in there, too, thanks to the Jurassic Park factor. There's no disputing the effect a blockbuster movie or big-budget tv series can have. Amber sales are still influenced by the first of the Jurassic Park films, and Attenborough's programs on early life shown late last year sparked a noticeable run on trilobites for months after. Good for business, of course, and I'm looking forward to the day when a fossil sea urchin gets to the last round of X Factor. Probably never happen. Anyway. I hope Planet Dinosaur meets expectations; Spino vs Carch is a brilliant way to open.

1 comment:

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