Attenborough and the Sea Dragon
I’m sure he hates the term but naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough really is a national treasure. What great television he has provided us with for past 60 years or more!
Always on the nail as far as the Reithian remit to educate, inform and entertain is concerned, he is also a great storyteller and at the age of 91 he is still making amazing documentaries.
One of the best programmes screened in 2018 so far has been Attenborough and the Sea Dragon. Shown on BBC 1 last weekend, it found Sir David teaming up with fossil-hunter extraordinare Chris Moore and an impressive bunch of marine scientists and experts from Southampton and Bristol Universities to solve what was described as a “200 million-year-old murder mystery”.
The victim was an ichthyosaur - the sea dragon of the title. A massive and fearsome sea creature that once swam the seas around what is now the south coast of England. Its fossilised remains were discovered in cliffs near Lyme Regis in Dorset. But there was something strange about them. Not only were they bigger than any previous finds - and there have been several along that stretch of the Jurassic Coast - but astonishingly they had been crushed and shattered by a predator.
What on earth could have inflicted such damage on such a massive beast? Whatever it was it appeared to have been capable of tearing the sea-dragon’s huge head right off.
Eventually tests concluded that not only was this a completely new species of ichthyosaur but that it’s killer was almost certainly a similar sea-animal of hitherto unimagined proportions, a cannibalistic hunter that could kill some mom the biggest monsters of the deep. Brilliant TV. Part ripping yarn, part nature documentary and part marine biology lesson. Vintage Attenborough.You can still watch it on BBC iPlayer.