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The Show

The Lost Continent

Series info on UEN-TV

An atomic rocket goes astray, leading a search team to discover a prehistoric ecosystem in "The Lost Continent" (1951). Major Jeff Nolan (Cesar Romero) and his crew encounter fierce dinosaurs, a mysterious native girl and volcanic eruption. Some will survive—most will not. All have the adventure of a lifetime (and plenty of mountain climbing to boot).

For decades, movies such as "The Lost Continent" have placed humans and dinosaurs together in the same landscape. Perhaps part of the thrill of this motif is the depiction of our own species—today's dominant predator—dwarfed by jaw-droppingly huge monsters that can crush whole hunting parties with a sweep of a spiked tail or chomp of a triangular tooth.

But did humans and dinosaurs really coexist? In a sense, yes: many paleontologists classify modern birds as avian dinosaurs, arguing that they are direct descendents of therapods. That's cheating, though. What we really want to know is whether a T Rex ever hunted a caveman, right? According to scientists, there's no physical evidence to support such a claim, while there's plenty to contradict one. Scientific theories need more than legends of dragons and Loch Ness monsters; they need verifiable evidence to earn credibility.

Since new evidence arises all the time, theories—which are interpretations of evidence—are only ever provisionally acceptable as true, since new evidence may compel us to seek a new or modify an existing understanding. For example, the notion that the earth was flat was supported by evidence available to one era; later generations found the theory that the earth is round to be a better explanation for observed phenomena. Now we may point to pictures of earth taken from space that clearly show our planet as a sphere, yet who's to say a hundred or so years down the road physicists might not discover that Earth also occupies a set of dimensions hitherto unknown to us in which our planet is, in fact, shaped like a noodle?

The Science

Jerry Harris

Jerry HarrisPaleontolgist Jerry Harris discusses dinosaurs, fossils in Southern Utah, and the movie "The Lost Continent."

 

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