Last Updated on May 25, 2023
David Attenborough: The Final Day of the Dinosaurs
What exactly is Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough about?
Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough is a documentary that covers what dinosaurs did before, during and after the extinction event that wiped them out. It has been created by the BBC the famous broadcaster on UK TV who produce so many great documentary shows. It’s still available on BBC iPlayer throughout 2023 so it’s not too late to watch for free.
The show follows David Attenborough as he journeys through the last day of Dinosaurs and highlights new discoveries that were made during the production of the programme. One such discovery was the use of rocks from over 100 million years ago to create siltation by nearby rivers. The final day of the dinosaurs was preserved in fossilized rock at the impact site and DePalma and his team used technology to explore Chicxulub.
It’s an amazing show which brings to life the very last days of the dinosaurs in detail that no-one has ever covered before.
Who is David Attenborough?
David Attenborough is a world-renowned broadcaster and naturalist who has been making documentaries for over 50 years. His documentaries have included some of the most well-known wildlife programs ever made, such as “The Living Planet” and “Life on Earth.”
More recently, he has focused on documentaries about animal families, such as “Dynasties II,” “Attenborough’s Wonder of Song” and “The Green Planet.” The latest of these was released in 2019 and documents the life of prehistoric creatures.
One particularly interesting documentary from David Attenborough is called “The Final Day with Dinosaurs.” It was released in 2022 on BBC iPlayer and focuses on the discovery at the site at Tanis. Here the palaeontologist Robert DePalma has made an incredible discovery in a prehistoric graveyard which sheds some light on how the dinosaurs became extinct. You can see how to access BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub abroad at the bottom of this page.
What is the Tanis site? Where is it?
The Tanis site is a prehistoric graveyard that preserves fossils from the first few minutes following the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. It’s located near the end of the Cretaceous period, in North America. The iridium layer and ancient seiche waves provide evidence for the cause of death, which was a nearby asteroid strike. The site is also where the asteroid struck Earth.
These spherules were found in sediment and sturgeon fossils, as well as at the site of impact. The spherules found at Tanis mark the day of the impact, because they would have fallen to Earth within hours of it. They’re made of similarly sized and shaped pieces of rock, with some even containing fragments from the asteroid itself.
Asteroid evidence at Tanis
It’s hard to imagine that anything could have survived the asteroid impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, but recent research is suggesting that there may be evidence of the event at a site in North America. The Tanis site in North Dakota has long been thought to be associated with the end of the dinosaurs, and now palaeontologist Robert DePalma says he has proof that it marks the day of impact.
DePalma presented his findings at last year’s Geological Society of America meeting, and they have since been published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. He argues that sedimentary rocks at Tanis show evidence of standing water waves and ancient channels which could only have been created by a large body of water such as an ocean. The presence of these features supports his theory that Tanis was hit by an asteroid 65 million years ago.
Shock waves from the impact would have travelled through Earth’s crust to reach Tanis, causing water levels to rise and create waves. The ground-borne shock waves would also have produced vibrations which could travel for hundreds or thousands of miles before dissipating.
In addition to this evidence, DePalma found tiny spherules at the site which he believes to be formed from melted molten rock. As a result, they could only have been created by an asteroid impact of the size and magnitude of Chicxulub. The spherules share a chemical composition with fragments of asteroid found at the impact site, confirming that they were produced by the same event.
There are other theories as to what may have caused these spherules to be found at Tanis, but DePalma’s theory is supported by some evidence from its location near a source of lithics and hydration salts.
Tanis fossil findings
The Tanis fossil findings are providing new insight into the final day of the dinosaurs. The evidence shows that they all died on the same day, which was probably due to a meteor impact. This is supported by other new fossils that have been discovered, including an amazing pterosaur hatching from its egg and an exceptionally preserved dinosaur leg.
Further study this year has confirmed that the sturgeon found at Tanis was dead at the time of its discovery and not alive when it was buried into a cave during a sudden storm. This information provides further confirmation that the impact and final day of Tanis occurred in May.
Where Can I Watch the Final Day?
At the moment you can buy it on YouTube and Amazon Prime and some other paid platforms. The only place currently where you can watch it free is on BBC iPlayer. It was initially broadcast at the end of April but it available for 11 months on the BBC archive.
Like all the BBC shows you can stream it directly or download to a device and watch it offline. Unfortunately, the BBC iPlayer live streaming and archive is only available if you’re in the United Kingdom and have a UK TV license. You can of course join the many ex-pats who watch BBC iPlayer from the USA and the rest of the world. All you need is a decent VPN service like NordVPN which has UK servers compatible with BBC iPlayer. It’s certainly worth doing especially if you want access to all the UK TV stations – you can use it for MotD Live stream (Match of the Day) on a Saturday Night or to enjoy the latest Downton Abbey on ITV Hub!
You can see a demonstration on how to stream the BBC to USA and abroad here. Don’t worry you’re asked if you have a TV license but if you say yes then there’s no further check.