Prehistoric Planet: TV show asked us to explore what weather the dinosaurs lived through | The Conversation


Apple TV+, CC BY-NC-SA

Yes, dinosaurs really did survive in snow – we simulated the Cretaceous climate to prove it.

When conjuring up images of when dinosaurs ruled the planet we often think of hot and humid landscapes in a world very different from our own. However, the new TV series Prehistoric Planet, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, shows dinosaurs living and indeed thriving in many types of environments, including colder regions where snowstorms, freezing fog and sea-ice were commonplace.

When the show’s producers first approached us to help understand the kinds of weather and environment that dinosaurs lived in before being wiped out around 66 million years ago, it prompted us to tackle a problem that has existed in palaeoclimate modelling for decades. That was, when scientists like us used computers to simulate, or “model”, the climate of prehistoric Earth, the models tended to make the poles much colder than evidence from fossils and rocks suggested they had actually been.

For the TV series, not only have we improved our models, but we have run the computer programmes for longer than anybody else has ever done to get the models as close to ancient “reality” as possible.

Prehistoric Planet depicts CGI dinosaurs based on the latest research. AppleTV+, CC BY-NC-SA

The producers, the BBC’s Natural History Unit, needed to know about the weather so they could film “real world” locations similar to those that existed in the past where dinosaurs lived. But most of what we know about the climate that long ago comes from indirect “proxy” evidence, such as leaf fossils and traces of certain chemicals in rocks, which can only reconstruct the average climate over decades or centuries. This is where the narrative of a much hotter and more humid Cretaceous worldcomes from.[…]

Continue reading: Prehistoric Planet: TV show asked us to explore what weather the dinosaurs lived through

About agogo22

Director of Manchester School of Samba at http://www.sambaman.org.uk
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