I'm not really sure why we're fascinated by dinosaurs. Maybe it's wired into the Collective Unconsciousness, some racial memory that serves as a constant reminder that the world can be scary if we're not vigilant. Perhaps it has something to do with our ego, as we look at the world we've made in our own image, and reflect naively on how far we've progressed. Or it could be that we watched way too many Ray Harryhausen movies, especially Valley of Gwangi, as a child.
What it really gets down to, though, is dinosaurs reside in our dreams. They transport us back to a time before dragons existed, to a land we walk upon to this day, transformed by millions of years of upheaval. Earth was a very different place 100 some-odd million years ago, an unforgiving environment where only the strongest, most brutal creatures survived.
Jurassic Fight Club (premiering on the History Channel Tuesday, 9P ET) explores that world with extensive live-action HD location production as well as hours of full-CG imagery recreating the dinosaur battlefields where the weak were separated from the strong. In recent years, archaeologists have gained new insight into a predatory world inhabited by cunning, quick-thinking, highly maneuverable dinosaurs. Not only is the series fascinating from a scientific viewpoint, but it's extremely entertaining in its detailed recreations.
The premiere episode "Cannibal Dinosaur" takes the viewer back 70 million years to a late Cretaceous Madagascar, and focuses on the tiny island's largest predator of the time, Majungatholus. Standing about nine feet tall at the hips (compared to Allosaurus, at 16 feet), and weighing around a ton, Majungatholus was a medium-size predator. On the isolated island of Madagascar, it reigned supreme. With its sharp serrated teeth and powerful tail, no other native creatures could surpass it in brute force. None, that is, except another Majungathalus.
That's the conclusion modern-day paleontologists come to when they unearth the bones of a Majungatholus who came to a grisly end 70 million years ago. What follows is a detective story that could have easily been called "CSI: Jurassic", and describes a mating ritual gone terribly awry. As unlikely as it sounds, the episode is engrossing and dramatic, balancing the dry facts with a likely scenario that draws the viewer deeper into the mystery. The climactic battle isn't overplayed, but ends with a resolution that's at once numbing and disturbing, but somehow satisfying.