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David Attenborough to come face to face with giant sea dragon in new BBC documentary

In a follow-up to his hit documentary Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, the veteran naturalist is exploring the case of a newly-discovered ichthyosaur in the UK

Published: Wednesday, 12th October 2016 at 9:00 am

David Attenborough wowed BBC viewers earlier this year with his programme about a giant dinoasaur which had been unearthed in Patagonia.


But following Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, the 90-year-old natural history presenter’s appetite for amazing dino discoveries appears to be undimmed: he is making a new programme about a newly-discovered predator on southern England's Jurassic Coast.

Attenborough and the Giant Sea Dragon is a new natural history commission which will focus on a remarkable chance discovery that could reveal secrets that have lain hidden for 200 million years, the BBC will announce today. It is expected to air in 2018.

A super predator that ruled the ocean at the time of the dinosaurs has been found in a crumbling cliff face on the Jurassic Coast in southern England.

It’s a huge ichthyosaur – a kind of dinosaur-dolphin – thought to be a completely new species, and, potentially the biggest ever found in the UK.

In this one-hour special for BBC1, the huge fossil will be excavated, prepared, scanned, and a perfect replica of its skeleton constructed. Then its physical attributes will be scientifically tested revealing the secrets of these animals and the Jurassic world in which they lived.

Looking at evidence from animals across the world, from sharks to dolphins and from marine iguanas to turtles, Attenborough will piece together how it behaved and lived. Tests on the 3D computer and physical model will reveal new science about these pre-historic monsters.

In a visual climax Attenbroough will meet the complete skeleton and, with the help of CGI animation, we will get a glimpse of this formidable sea dragon in action.


The commission is one of six new commissions announced today by Tom McDonald, BBC Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.

These include an ambitious BBC1 series for 2019 telling the story of each continent on earth; a series where the animals use the latest technology to film themselves; and a powerful conservation documentary from the Natural World strand.

McDonald said: “Our new Natural History commissions show the range and ambition we have for the genre and our commitment to Natural History up to 2019 and beyond. From blue chip landmarks to special event pieces, access documentaries to truly surprising and innovative ways of delivering stories, Natural History at the BBC goes from strength to strength."


Earlier this year, Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur was watched by more than eight million viewers, making it the most watched natural history programme on the BBC since 2011.


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