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TV Reviews : A&E;'s ‘Dinosaur!’ Fascinating Look Back

What is it about dinosaurs? Kids love ‘em. Adults love ‘em. And there are some people who make them their life’s work.

The grand mystery that is the dinosaur unfolds in a fascinating four-part program, “Dinosaur!,” which premieres on the Arts & Entertainment cable network Sunday at 5 and 9 p.m. and continues for the next three nights. Former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite is the show’s host, and he is onto a good story from the start.

The first episode, entitled “The Tale of a Tooth,” tells the intriguing story of how man only recently became aware of these huge creatures from the past. Dinosaurs disappeared 64 million years before the appearance of man, and we only became aware of their existence 150 years ago. The discovery in England of a sharp-edged tooth was the beginning of a fascinating detective story.

Cronkite is ably assisted by various paleontologists, scientists and historians. He also gets some strong assistance from animatronic models that were created for this show. It is believed that over 1,000 species of dinosaurs existed, and many are seemingly brought to life by the animatronic process.

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In Monday’s episode, “The Tale of a Bone,” we learn that dinosaur rustlers roamed the West in the last century, that the remains of the biggest creatures ever to roam the Earth are now being unearthed in Colorado, and how scientists fleshed out the bones of dinosaurs.

The final two programs discuss how dinosaurs may have lived in family units, how they may have communicated, how the great creatures might have become extinct and what might have happened had there been one small diversion in the evolutionary process.

Fascinating stuff. This ambitious series was produced by Rod Caird for Granada Television in England. And Cronkite, still earnest and appealing after all these years, is just the person to make it even more interesting and worthwhile.


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