Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (2007) Movie Script

This is our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Our sun takes 225 million years
to go around the galaxy once
The dinosaur era
lasted 180 million years.
So if one rotation of
the galaxy is one hour,
the earth is 20 hours old,
dinosaurs have lived for 48 minutes,
and us 48 seconds.
This is a comet.
It's all ice and rock.
Its 10 miles wide,
and it's headed
for the earth ...fast.
But this isn't the earth
that we know, not really.
This is 65 million years ago,
and we're in South America,
long before the dawn of man.
At this time the masters
of the earth are dinosaurs.
This is Patagonia.
A vast region of Argentinean
South America as it is today.
The oldest known dinosaur
is from Argentina.
Dinosaurs have rapidly spread
throughout the whole planet,
Partly because 250 million years ago,
all the land on earth was connected
as one colossal super continent,
the Pangaea.
And there was only one immense ocean,
We are north of the
South American plate,
in the sea that will grow
to be the Atlantic Ocean.
Dinosaurs only existed on land.
The large ocean creatures of
that time were marine reptiles.
These creatures are not dolphins.
They are Ichthyosaurus
160 million years ago.
Some species of
Ichthyosaurus grew up to 75 ft.
One prey's predator is almost
always another predator's prey,
until you reach the top of the food chain,
where you will find this monster ruling alone.
This one is 60 feet long,
but an isolated find points to
a specimen reaching 80 feet.
Extreme forms of life also appeared
on land during the dinosaur era.
Erosion and geological
forces have revealed
that South America saw the
evolution of exceptional dinosaurs.
In many places there, one
walks today on the very ground
these giants walked upon
a 100 million years ago.
Patagonia in particular, offers us
some of the most amazing discoveries
in the history of palaeontology,
the science of ancient life.
This phenomenon seems to depend
on another peculiar twist of evolution.
Regions that produce great dinosaurs
also tend to produce
great palaeontologists.
This is Professor Rodolfo Coria,
world-renowned palaeontologist,
and director of the Carmen Funes Museum
in Plaza Huincul, a small
town of the Neuquen Province
in Argentinean Patagonia.
The museum I work for, is very active.
Many doctoral students come
to pursue their research.
Sometimes younger people,
like my daughter Ludmila,
just come to satisfy their curiosity.
I love talking about
dinosaurs with everyone,
whether they are experts or not.
It's a busy life, and it would
have been plenty for most people,
but early in my career
new horizons opened up for me.
Things became much larger than life.
A Rancher had stumbled
upon a surprisingly large bone.
My mentor, the great Argentinean
palaeontologist Dr. Jose Bonaparte,
immediately saw that this bone
surpassed all the dinosaur bones
he had seen in his career.
After several digging
seasons we ended up facing
the largest dinosaur ever found.
It was one of those so familiar
long neck, four-legged herbivores.
We named it Argentinosaurus
This discovery have a
profound effect, on the way we look
at South American dinosaurs.
On a personal level,
it took a big place in my life
to say the least.
The Earth will never
see a bigger creature on land,
yet it starts its life in eggs just
a little bigger than grapefruit.
Scientists believe that female
Argentinosaurus like all Titanosaurus,
a class of four legged,
long-necked dinosaur
left their eggs to their
fate as soon as they were laid,
relying on the large number
of the survival of their species
This baby Argentinosaurus,
let's call him "Strong One",
will grow up to be as big
as a herd of 14 elephants,
120 feet long, longer than a blue
whale, the largest animal living today
If he lives long enough.
Predators and hazards abound.
Only a few will reach adulthood.
Actually one of the most important
discovery has been associated with
is an extremely large nesting ground.
It helped us to learn a lot about the
reproductive behaviour of the dinosaurs
This site is known as Auca Mahuevo.
It covers more than 15 miles and it is
approximately 80 million years old.
We believe that it was chosen
as a nesting site by generation
upon generation of these dinosaurs.
The nests are so close together,
that the females could
not walk between them.
We think that they lay their eggs
on the edge of the site
and just walked away.
The earth of the Dinosaur
is familiar, yet different.
It was warmer than today.
Deserts were wide-spread.
A great part of the dinosaur era,
there were no broad leaf trees and
no flower bearing plants.
During the dinosaur era
there is no Arctic ice caps,
and Antarctica is sub-tropical.
For tens of millions of years
seasons barely changed.
The water of the ocean
is also much warmer.
Hurricanes are frequent.
The Magnetic poles
changes position continuously.
Many times a modern compass would
have pointed east, west or south.
When dinosaurs appeared, the nearby
stars were in radically different positions,
the moon is closer,
and the tides are more amplitude.
The Earth spins faster
and thus a year has 385 days.
Professor Coria has
contributed to the discovery
of more than a dozen of new dinosaurs.
As a scientist, he insists
that each new find
is important,
no matter how big or small.
The journey to discovery
is there is a reward into him
as the discovery itself.
And sometimes he says
what plays the biggest part
is simply not in our hands.
I like to think that
I am lucky, just incredibly lucky.
Lucky to work in Patagonia,
and lucky to have been there at the
right time with the right knowledge.
Many paleontological discoveries
are not made by professionals.
That's what happened
with the Argentinosaurus,
and it happened again
with yet another dinosaur.
Dr. Leonardo Salgado is a
smart colleague and friend of mine.
He and I were notified of the presence
of fossil bones not far from my museum.
We organized a field expedition and
started to dig up more bones.
They were relatively big,
so at first, we thought
that they belonged to a herbivore,
because in general these
dinosaurs tend to be larger.
But instead, the bones
proved to be those of a predator;
a very large one.
Professor Coria's team
had unveiled a first species of
a group of fierce
predators called Giganotosaurus.
The first Giganotosaurus
appeared 100 million years ago.
The 3 species in this group surpassed
the famous T. Rex in terms of size.
Although rare for reptiles,
caring for the young has be observed
among crocodiles for instance.
In dinosaurs, this caring behaviour
evolve enough to remind us of birds.
This baby female is
named Long Tooth.
However small and vulnerable,
and cute she may appear now
she is genetically programmed to
rapidly become a 45 foot long,
eight tonne predator like her mother.
In Patagonia, you have the largest
herbivore and the largest predator,
living at roughly the same
period and in the same territory.
This clearly brings us the question,
Why did this happen
that way in that place?
It is a question,
I've heard countless times.
And as a matter of fact I keep
asking myself the same question.
There is no easy answer.
It could be because
120 million years ago
South America, separated from Africa
and became an isolated world.
Evolution followed a
number of particular paths.
However, it's more complex than that.
A dry climate with colder nights
could have favoured animals
that retain their internal heat to better
because of their larger mass.
But a simpler interpretation rest
on a warm climate and the fertile land,
with all the vegetation you can eat.
Yet another theory tells
us that large herbivores
had to grow big enough,
to accommodate a large stomach
required to digest
high in fibre, low in protein vegetation.
Finally, large spans of flat space could
have led naturally to Argentinosaurus,
as the vast seas have led to whales.
Size has its advantages.
The highest branches belong
to those who can reach them,
and many predators are too small
to be threatening in those situation.
Strong One is now about ten years old.
He has reached the
length of 60 feet, half its adult size.
Rapid growth will give him
the protection of size early in life.
If a single Argentinosaurus
is hard to attack,
a herd of Argentinosaurus
is even more so.
And such a herd have to move
constantly, because it eats a lot,
and have to find new
or regrown food sources.
Long Tooth has reached a
quarter of her adult size.
She is growing fast too.
Her primitive feathers
have almost all disappeared.
She has been feeding on
just about any small animal
and even some vegetation
during the first part of her life.
Her genes will eventually
command her to eat only meat.
The dinosaurs couldn't learn much,
but they had the brains they need.
They thrived for 180 million years.
So it's likely their brain didn't need
to be that large to adapt to survive.
This is a message for us here.
By the way, it is more than
time to introduce Sharp Feathers.
He is Unenlagia, a 6 foot,
50 pound male raptor.
He is related to birds,
as are to some extent Velociraptors,
Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.
Unenlagias had feathers,
but didn't fly.
Big dinosaurs need space.
This is the Carmen Funes Museum,
which also happens to be my second home.
We still know so little about dinosaurs.
Palaeontology is just beginning
to discover the universe.
Sometimes as a joke we say
that it is a science filled with holes.
We have only found about 700 species
of dinosaurs on the whole planet.
This isn't many for a reign
that lasted 180 million years.
Ten percent of these dinosaurs
were found in Argentina,
most of them
in the last 30 years.
Through technology our
knowledge grows faster every day.
But dinosaurs are only found by
people who are working there.
Fossilisation is a process that
requires extremely rare conditions,
and even then very little
of an organism is preserved.
We could easily conclude that
a tremendous number of species
just disappeared without a trace.
Because there is so much is missing,
your imagination can really run wild.
Of course, science fiction can be fun,
but you also need to be
very careful before proposing
a new way of
looking at dinosaurs.
Like so many of my colleagues,
I wish I could travel in time
to see these amazing creatures alive.
Strong One has reached maturity.
For many scientists he is at full size.
He is 20-year-old,
and is at the beginning
of more than a century of life.
Other scientists believe that
he will keep on growing all of his live,
at a much slower pace
than in his earlier years.
Argentinosaurus were 12 times more
massive than their biggest predator.
They were almost invincible.
Here in El Chocon
100 million years ago,
the normally fleeting
footprints of a few dinosaurs
have become
eternal through fossilisation.
These traces speak abundantly
about the creatures that left them.
They give us details
about speed and size.
They tell us, if the animal
was walking on two legs or four,
if they were alone or in a group,
if they were wandering,
hunting, or being hunted
Dinosaur footprints have
found on all continents,
but the trackway layout
in El Chocon is invaluable.
The pattern clearly show association
between contemporary species,
and this is very rare.
The discovery of the
Giganotosaurus has given Rodolfo Coria
his world class reputation
in palaeontology.
His passion for his work
remains undiminished,
despite his being most
of the time very demanding.
His work is intimately linked to nature,
its intimately varied terrain
and ever changing climate.
So there were hardships,
but there are moments, sometimes
when science just blend with the pure bliss
of being outside and wonderful places.
Years in the field have
taught me an essential lesson.
After all this time dealing simultaneously
with the live of the ancient past
and that of the present time,
all life have become meaningful to me.
My scientific work have
shaped my whole way of thinking.
This is prospecting at its simplest.
You just look around.
But finding
required a trained eye.
With time you realise
that the number of questions
grows faster than
the number of answers.
Patience and perseverance
are mandatory virtues.
They help with a
specially puzzling enigma.
For instance, we wondered whether
theropod, such as Giganotosaurus,
hunted alone or in packs.
Again, like many times before,
A good hint and an
answer came unexpectedly.
We found a new species
in a group of Giganotosaurus.
In fact, we didn't
find just one specimen
but a chamber of bones
belonging to at least seven individuals.
For me, and my Canadian
colleague Phil Curry
this was pointing at
something we had considered,
but have no evidence for until then.
Large meat eating dinosaurs,
such as Giganotosaurus,
could hunt in packs.
So long truth belongs to this
new species of Giganotosaurus.
She is to be precise, a Mapusaurus.
And at 22 years of age,
she is fully grown.
Strong One is
unknowingly in a critical time.
As an adult Argentinosaurus
he has no predator to fear,
unless he is too old,
or sick or wounded.
Despite their numbers
and their powerful jaws,
the Giganotosaurus can't
bring down such a giant.
Tearing off pieces of skin and letting
the large prey bleed to death,
or die from infection is a
strategy more likely to succeed.
Giganotosaurus could wait
days even weeks between meals.
But this time, they won't have to.
65 million years ago
Time flies.
Millions of years pass,
and as the continents
keep on drifting,
the earth begins to
resemble more what it is today.
Species emerge, evolve, disappear.
Nature never stops changing.
We are in North America.
Flying reptiles reach their apogee
with the Quetzalcoatlus, the
pterosaur as wide as a small plane.
No flying bird will ever
get as big, not even close.
Apart from flight, this reptiles
has nothing in common with birds
And evolution gave it nothing to
survive the impending dramatic events.
Several factors could have
contributed to the demise of dinosaurs.
Mammals became bigger
and more competitive.
Drifting isolated continents
touched each other.
New rivalries appeared.
New diseases spread.
The climate was growing colder,
possibly because of
increased volcanic activity.
Five million years before
the end of the dinosaur era,
the volcanoes of the world
became much more active.
The air was
unbreathable in many places.
Vegetation suffered from the acid rain
and also from the
darkened and dust-filled skies.
But still, many
dinosaurs made it through
for a little while longer.
This comet is
as big as Mount Everest.
It covers the distance from
the moon to the Earth in two hours.
It cuts through our atmosphere
in two seconds.
It hit the earth near today's
Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
All the forest of North and
South America are destroyed by fire.
Already weakened, dinosaurs are
the animals that suffered most.
If they don't die as a result of the
impact and its immediate consequences,
they will die gradually in the aftermath.
In a relatively short time,
dinosaurs become history.
Or did they?
Not all the dinosaurs disappear.
Birds are dinosaurs.
It's difficult to imagine
how mammals could have evolved
alongside large dinosaurs.
If they haven't become extinct
maybe we just wouldn't be here.
Instead, when we
look at birds of today
it's as if the dinosaurs have left
us only the grace and beauty.
Palaeontology takes me fantastic
places all over the planet.
Still it keeps bringing
me back to my roots,
here in Patagonia.
More discoveries await me here perhaps
but as I move forward in life,
I find as much meaning
in sharing knowledge
as in discovering new dinosaurs.
This said, I'm not that old.