Finding dinosaur bones while television cameras are rolling is difficult enough. But discovering a whole new species? Next to impossible. And yet that’s exactly what happened when it came to production of History’s latest homegrown project, Dino Hunt Canada.
“Production had started on the series and there was the possibility that they would find something new,” says Sarah Jane Flynn, senior director of original factual content at Shaw Media. “Then they came back to us and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but this really is a completely new species. We pretty much lost our minds.” The result is the star of Dino Hunt Canada and the newest showpiece in the Royal Ontario Museum’s dinosaur exhibit, a new species related to triceratops. (A video of Dr. David C. Evans unveiling the animal is below.)
The project, Flynn explains, was the result of former Cream Productions (Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan) co-founder Christopher Rowley asking ROM head palaeontologist Dr. David C. Evans what he was up to and being told his team was on the verge of discovering something big. Rowley and Evans told Shaw what they had planned and the network jumped on board.
Bowing Friday night, History’s four-parter not only tells the story of how Evans and his team discovered the as-yet-unnamed beast (an interactive website urges Canadians to come up with a name for it), but spotlights the palaeontologists who scour this country for bones. One of the biggest surprises—to me at least—was learning that dinosaur bones and other fossils aren’t just found in the badlands of Alberta. Digs in B.C. and the Bay of Fundy are documented in Dino Hunt Canada in what Evans calls a Golden Age for the industry.
Narrated by Dan Aykroyd, the first episode serves to introduce several of the key players in the show, including Evans and his team in Alberta as they began to unearth their unique beast. Palaeontology butted up against television production with Evans’ group faced with the daunting task of putting the skeleton together in months rather than years in order to meet Shaw’s broadcast deadline.
“We knew we had something special because the first thing we uncovered were the pieces of the neck shield, which is the most characteristic part of the horned dinosaur,” Evans explains. The biggest challenge for Evans’ squad was to uncover remainder of bones locked under a hillside; a summer of daily jackhammering and the animal was free of its earthly bonds.
“By then we were able to tell History, ‘We’ve found something new here,'” he says with a smile. “‘If you want to be here when we uncover this new dinosaur, come on out.'”
See what they uncovered starting tonight.
Dino Hunt Canada airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History.