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When Dinosaurs Roamed America

When Dinosaurs Roamed America (shortened to When Dinosaurs Roamed outside of the U.S.) is a two-hour American television program (produced in the style of a traditional nature documentary) that first aired on the Discovery Channel in 2001. It was directed by Pierre de Lespinois and narrated by actor John Goodman. The featured dinosaurs were designed by Paleo-artist and art director Mark Dubeau, and noted for creating dinosaurs for many other Discovery Channel and National Geographic specials. The dinosaur animation was accomplished by animator Don Waller at Meteor Studios, in Montreal, Canada. The music was composed by Christopher Franke (ex-member from Tangerine Dream).

When Dinosaurs Roamed America premiered to 5 million viewers.[1]


Late Triassic segment (220 million years ago)[]

The program starts in the Late Triassic, near modern-day New York City. The narrator explains how the Permian Mass Extinction led to new forms of life, including, eventually, the most extraordinary creatures ever to walk the planet, the dinosaurs. The camera tracks a Coelophysis through the woods. The program depicts Coelophysis as preying on mainly small animals, such as insects and Icarosaurus. It encounters other, large non-dinosaurian archosaurs such as Rutiodon and Desmatosuchus. The quick Coelophysis is portrayed as a very successful inhabitant of this world.

Early Jurassic segment (200 million years ago)[]

The program moves on to the Early Jurassic of Pennsylvania, showing a pack of "Syntarsus".[note 1] These dinosaurs, closely related to Coelophysis, are hunting the primitive herbivorous dinosaur Anchisaurus, only to be driven away by a Dilophosaurus, which kills the Anchisaurus to feed its young. The narrator then explains Syntarsus and Dilophosaurus will become the gigantic carnivores such as Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, while Anchisaurus will become the sauropods.

Late Jurassic segment (150 million years ago)[]

The show skips to prehistoric Utah during the Late Jurassic period. The region has been engulfed by a severe drought as the seasonal rain has failed to arrive. A predatory Ceratosaurus stalks a family of Dryosaurus, including a mother and two youngsters. The predator eventually breaks its cover and charges after the small dinosaurs as they scatter. The Dryosaurus can only flee but the Ceratosaurus is quicker then they are and catches up, grabbing and killing one of the juveniles. The Ceratosaurus feasts while the others escape into a grove of pine trees and run into a herd of sauropods called Camarasaurus. They will be safe around the gentle giants. A male Stegosaurus fights off the attacking Ceratosaurus, the same individual from the earlier sequence, later on using its spiked tail and follows a female Stegosaurus constantly displaying by flushing blood into it's plates. Eventually, the female decides that he is a healthy individual and the two mate. Another Ceratosaurus is seriously injured while attacking the copulating Stegosaurus and critically injured. With the onset of the rainy season, a herd of Apatosaurus arrives, followed by an Allosaurus who launches an assault against the herd while the sauropods graze but is unsuccessful due to their size and strength. The Allosaurus subsequently kills the Ceratosaurus that attacked the Dryosaurus and finally is able to feed. Later whilst following its herdmates, one Apatosaurus stumbles over a fallen tree and tumbles off of a 20 foot high cliff and cripples itself. The sauropod is mortally wounded, and its agonized bellowing is picked up by the hungry Allosaurus. When the Allosaurus arrive, they begin to eat the sauropod alive.

Mid Cretaceous segment (90 million years ago)[]

The program then shows a forest located in New Mexico during the Middle Cretaceous period. Small predatory Coelurosaurs scamper through the foliage and steal pieces of meat from a dead Zuniceratops. This smaller cousin of Triceratops had been killed by raptors and the hungry dinosaurs are feasting.


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