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How to Build a Dinosaur

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Almost halfway through this lively documentary we get the big statement. Dinosaurs were not made extinct by a meteor shower 65 million years ago; some of them evolved into birds. It’s official. Or is it?

Alice Roberts doesn’t examine the current state of our knowledge of dinosaurs but peers into the past and sees how that knowledge has evolved. This involves a very photogenic trip to Los Angeles and watching fossilised bones being assembled into a museum exhibit. So, it all feels a bit tangential, with as much art, engineering and interpretation or guesswork involved as science.

You will get more out of Extinct, the Horizon compilation programme that follows at 10pm, if science is your interest. But there are a few treasures to be found. Like the palaeontologist who specialises in discovering “new” dinosaurs by poking around dusty fossils in the storerooms of museums. And some neat answers to questions about the colour of dinosaurs.


Dr Alice Roberts discovers how to put a dinosaur skeleton back together, complete with muscles, correct posture and, in some cases, the correct skin colour. The creatures died out 65 million years ago and full skeletons are rarely found.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Alice Roberts
Director Olly Bootle
Executive Producer Jonathan Renouf
Producer Olly Bootle


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