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Dinosaurs: On the Trail of Prehistory cover image

Dinosaurs: On the Trail of Prehistory 2011


Distributed by Films Media Group, 132 West 31st St., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001; 800-257-5126
Produced by Berlin Producers
Directed by Kristan Kahler and Yvonne Schwamborn
DVD, color, 52 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Dinosaurs, Paleontology

Date Entered: 06/04/2012

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

In Obernkirchen, Northern Germany, a series of petrified dinosaur tracks have been discovered in a stone quarry. What makes this an extraordinary discovery is that the tracks are from a Troodontidae, a raptor type feathered carnivore, previously only discovered in Asia and America, but of which little is really known. This documentary proceeds to show how much data can be gleaned just from studying the tracks. In fact, twenty-five features can be determined by each footprint—things such as size—9 feet long, 4 feet 6 inches high and 60-80 pounds. Tracks can also tell what dinosaurs actually did and help to bring fossils to life. The motion evidenced by tracks provides clues to the social life of dinosaurs. The program follows one research team to China where they view other Troodontidae fossils, which compare favorably with the German tracks. This seems to confirm that the Troodontidae was a feathered raptor like dinosaur. Along with computerized motion studies and observations of contemporary Emus (which are similar in size to a Troodontidae) lead to the belief that they had 3D vision, traveled in groups, made sounds like ravens, but couldn’t fly.

An undercurrent in this documentary is the fact that these tracks are on land that belongs to a gruff man who is trying to run a family business and has little patience for paleontologists, research teams, and visitors. Annette Richter, one of the paleontologists featured in this program, spends valuable time trying to cajole and placate the owner to continue to allow visitors and research teams.

The German dialogue is translated with humor and an almost campy quality. Audio and video quality and editing are very good.

This documentary is a good addition to school library collections, as well as public library collections. Recommended. Provides latest findings related to feathered dinosaurs and the importance of the findings from studying petrified tracks.