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Type in ‘dinosaur’ in the Youtube search engine and one of the things you’ll most likely find (along with a bunch of ‘documentaries’ using screenshots from Jurassic Park, Jurassic: The Hunted, and stolen Deviantart illustrations as click-bait) is this interesting series: I’m A Dinosaur.
I’m A Dinosaur is a series of Flash animated shorts (each only about 2 minutes long) created by Canadian based kid’s entertainment company HooplaKidsTV. They are aimed at a preschool audience, and each short aims to teach about a specific type of dinosaur.
Now, I’m certainly all for teaching kids about dinosaurs, and putting it in a short, easy to retrieve format is really a good idea. I’m also glad that this series has episodes on pretty obscure dinosaurs, often favoring them over there more famous relatives (we have an Einiosaurus episode, but not a Triceratops one). However, despite the series’ good intentions, things seemed to have goofed up somewhere down the line.
The show tries it’s best to be educational, but for some reason, there are some huge factual errors in many of the episodes. Some of the time, the mistakes aren’t terrible, but noticeable. Take the series’ first episode for example, about Apatosaurus.
BTW, that video has over 1 million views on Youtube.
At first, it seems like a cute and harmless educational video for kids, but if you examine it a little further, there are some serious problems.
First off, even though they have the decency to call this dinosaur Apatosaurus instead of Brontosaurus, it still looks like a stereotypical brontosaur type sauropod. It has a Camarasaurus-like skull, a thick and chunky frame, and elephantine grey skin; all the trope of a classic brontosaur.
That’s one of the weird things about this web series, the information they give seems to be a weird mix of current knowledge, things they read from dinosaur books they had as kids or they just found lying around, or from Jurassic Park. It makes things really weird!
Not only that, but when they do get things right, sometimes the way they explain things doesn’t make sense. For example, in the Apatosaurus episode, the Apatosaur states that he is a sauropod, which means as he puts it ‘he walks a lizard’s walk’. I’m sure he was trying to convey the message that ‘sauropod’ means ‘lizard foot’, but you can’t just leave it at that. If you want to explain to kids what a sauropod is, explain that all long necked dinosaurs were sauropods. Don’t just say “I walk a lizard’s walk’. That doesn’t make any sense!
OK, next example. Here is the Velociraptor episode.
As you can see, even though the episode makes a point to say that Velociraptors actually had feathers, they still make it look like the Jurassic Park raptors, with the grey skin and the allosaur skull. This is what I mean about the weird mix of information.
Sometimes, the episode will even contradict itself within the episode! Look at this short featuring Nqwebasaurus.
Once again, I applaud the series for making episodes of little known dinosaurs (heck, I think this is the first use of Nqwebasaurus in popular media EVER!), but please, please get your info right! First off, the episode brings out the point that this dinosaur is the first dinosaur to have a tongue click, a phonic quirk seen in several African languages, in it’s pronunciation. So, the name of this dinosaur should be pronounced ‘tongue click’-webosaurus. But even though the character mentions that he is the first dinosaur to have a tongue click in his name, he continues to pronounce his name ‘Nick-webosaurus’.
That just comes off as incredibly lazy.
Sometimes, the episodes do things that make you think they just didn’t care. Here is an episode on Eotyrannus.
One of the things it points out is that most tyrannosaurs are known from America and Asia, so it was a surprise to find one in Europe. However, that’s not really a huge surprise since we know Europe and Asia were connected at the time, just like today. If tyrannosaurs are found in Africa or South America, then we can stop the presses. But the weirdest thing that happens in this episode is that the Eotyrannus’ are hunting Compsognathus.
You know, from the Jurassic?
And not from the Cretaceous?
And don’t get me started on the Compsognathus episode!
You see that feathered dinosaur that the Compy is arguing with? Bavarisaurus, was it? You know what Bavarisaurus actually was?
It was a lizard!
But the worst offense has to be the Herrerasaurus episode.
It would be OK, if the Herrerasaurus didn’t say he was a small dinosaur ‘about the size of an elephant’.
A small dinosaur the size of an elephant.
First off, that is an oxymoron.
Second off, Herrerasaurus was the size of a big dog.
Third, any dinosaur the size of an elephant can officially not be called a ‘small dinosaur’!
I mean, did they even care? How could an error that big be made?
Episodes by episode is filled inconsistencies like that. We have an episode with Plesiosaurus with a nest of eggs on the land (what?) an episode dedicated to Ultrasauros, whose existence science has discredited since the 90’s, and even an episode with Megaraptor depicting it as a scaly dromaeosaur (it was more likely a carcharodontosaur or even a spinosaur, and this was known since 2003!).
Yeah, this series kind of fails at being scientifically accurate a lot of the time, and it’s really hard to forgive it because of that. Even though it put’s forth it’s best efforts to be educational, to many mistakes have been made down the line. If I were to give this series a grade of accuracy, I would give it a 4 out of 10. The only thing keeping it from getting a lower score are the things it gets right!
Join me next time as I return to the Walking With…franchise, but this time not on television, but live.
Walking With Dinosaurs Live is next.