Dinosaur Hunters

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Talk about smiling for the camera. Amina Salah

One of the heaviest dinosaurs to roam the Earth calls the Royal Saskatchewan Museum home

Dinosaur Hunters is a documentary airing at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum every day at 2:00 p.m. until September 5, 2022. 

As I made my way to the museum, I thought about what I already knew about dinosaurs, and that, my friends, is absolutely nothing. Although I am not a beginner to the topic of dinosaurs, I never paid that much attention to the topic and its history. My first introduction to the world of dinosaurs was through Jurassic Park when I was around seven years old. At the time, I was of course completely terrified. The film, in fact, traumatized me. Since then, I have had an irrational fear of dinosaurs that my friends poke fun at me for. I wish I could explain why I am terrified of dinosaurs. All I know is that watching Jurassic Park most likely contributed to this fear. 

As I walked into the museum, ready to conquer my irrational fears, I gave myself a much-needed pep talk and braced myself for the worst. 

The documentary was not as scary as I had imagined. The narration was calming and soft. It was not overbearing or in your face which I absolutely enjoyed. The story began in 1991 according to Tim Tokaryk, a paleontologist. Robert Gebhardt and a group of paleontologists discovered a rock that was unique. It had characteristics that resembled a rock but was also much different. Together, they wanted to investigate what ended up being the bones that they had found. This was one of the biggest fossils found in Canadian history. This was the first T-rex skeleton discovered right here in Saskatchewan. Ultimately, paleontologists are like detectives, methodically looking for the truth. The work takes years, and at times even decades. This excavation period spanned five years. 

The reality is we know very little about the T-rex. It is something that scientists are still studying and trying to understand. It is a work in progress for paleontologists. There was a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. The dinosaur hunters are determined to extract the fossils. It is not easy and can be dangerous; in fact, it takes a group of trained paleontologists to unearth the fossils. The precious remains are moved to another research station to be studied. Since the excavation, the paleontologists have discovered that the specimen – named “Scotty” – might be female. Other scientists have identified that it would have been better if the paleontologists on site who discovered the T-rex also looked at the surroundings where the fossils were found. This would have made it easier to picture the eco-system the T-rex lived in. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and T-rexes ruled the dinosaurs. According to the documentary, the paleontologists were able to recover 65-70 per cent of the skeletal remains. It is believed that Scotty was around 28 years old when it had died, and that it is one of the heaviest of its kind.

The documentary showed the T-rex’s teeth, which was fantastic. It brought the vision and the image in my head to reality. The narration was incredible. My only concern is the lack of subtitles. As someone who is not a native English speaker, I had a hard time trying to understand certain aspects of the documentary. English is not my first language. Every time I watch something, whether it is a show, a documentary, or the news, I heavily rely on reading subtitles because it helps me understand better. There are still English words I have trouble understanding when spoken, but I can understand them far better when written because I am able to see the sentence structure and visually watch the phrasing. Having subtitles would have made it easier to follow the progress of the documentary. Furthermore, subtitles help the progression of a story. It ensures that the audience are not missing any nuances that they would have otherwise missed without their use. 

Above all, subtitles are necessary for those who have trouble hearing. Ultimately, subtitles are about accessibility. They are meant to include different people who rely on them. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than five per cent of the world’s population (466 million people) experience hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). Assuming everyone can hear or understand the documentary without the use of subtitles is a flawed system. Subtitles ensure that the message of an art form is received by all viewers depending on their preference. A study implemented by Verizon Media concluded that 69 per cent of its consumers prefer to watch videos without sound when they are in public, and 25 per cent prefer to do so in private. Simultaneously, 80 per cent of consumers prefer videos with subtitles. The study also emphasized that consumers prefer to watch videos with subtitles due to the reality that they simply understand things better. People absorb material differently. People view and understand art differently. It is unique to every individual. Thus, I believe that subtitles would have made it easier for me to consume Dinosaur Hunters. 

All in all, I enjoyed that the documentary gave the audience the full story. Thanks to the paleontologists on site, it felt as if we were there when everything occurred. The documentary was not just a narration with graphics, rather it was a well-rounded story that featured behind-the-scenes of the scientists’ work. The paleontologists ensured that they marked down and tracked all their progress. This makes it easier to follow the timeline of events such as discovering the bones of the T-rex, confirmation of discovery, and excavation. For a documentary, it felt like a film as it featured breathtaking cinematography. I particularly enjoyed seeing the dinosaurs in the documentary. The editing looked very real, and it was evident that there was a lot of time, effort, and energy that went into the creation and the production of the documentary.

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