Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough review

David Attenborough joins palaeontologist Robert DePalma on the Tanis web site in North Dakota as he reveals the story of the dinosaurs demise on this thrilling documentary


15 April 2022

David Attenborough

BBC Studios/Jon Sayer

In July 2013, palaeontologist Robert DePalma started excavating a patch of dust within the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota. Though he had initially been pessimistic concerning the web site, he quickly observed one thing unusual: small spherical droplets of rock known as ejecta. These are a standard signature from interstellar our bodies hitting planets, they usually had been scattered all through a layer of soil from an historical flood triggered by the asteroid impression, completely preserving its contents, Pompeii-style.

As DePalma dug additional, he found a trove of pristine fossils that he suspected had been from the late Cretaceous interval – the final time non-avian dinosaurs roamed free earlier than the catastrophic Chicxulub asteroid wiped them out. There are scant fossil data from that fateful day, which makes the positioning, named Tanis, one of the crucial important palaeontological finds of all time.

DePalma saved his discovery secret earlier than asserting the websites existence in 2019, after which a BBC documentary staff joined him at Tanis for 3 years. Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough follows DePalma and his staff of dinosaur-hunters as they unearth, fossil by fossil, the story of the dinosaurs deaths. David Attenborough is available to examine the exhumed specimens over with fossil consultants, and to elucidate what they inform us concerning the creatures last moments, armed with a wholesome dose of dinosaur CGI.

Though Attenborough is his normal stellar presenting self, the present deviates from a typical BBC nature documentary. Sharing equal display screen time with the (animated) animals are the arguably extra fascinating palaeontologists. At one level, DePalma strikes upon a patch of fossilised triceratops pores and skin. This is the closest factor to touching a residing, respiration dinosaur, certainly one of his colleagues says, his pleasure palpable.

The rhythm of the present is nearer to a real crime whodunnit, with Attenborough poring over the Tanis fossils in darkly lit labs. As the jigsaw items fall into place – a reconstructed younger pterosaur right here, a totally preserved Thescelosaurus leg there – a clearer image of Chicxulubs aftermath begins to emerge. Mile-high tsunamis, superheated ejecta elevating the air temperature by tens of levels and a multiyear lack of daylight are recreated and make for hellish viewing. The visible depiction of the dinosaurs and their demise is much less engrossing than the story being informed, with a number of the CGI animals showing barely wood, however the feeling of discovering historical historical past alongside DePalma and Attenborough is thrilling.

Though the documentary is a few day that occurred 66 million years in the past, it’s tough not to attract comparisons with the local weather future which may await us. Its potential that humanity is having as massive an impression on the world because the asteroid that ended the age of the dinosaurs, says Attenborough. But he ends on a extra hopeful observe, saying people are distinctive of their capacity to be taught from the previous. We should use that capacity properly.

Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough is now obtainable on BBC iPlayer

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