Here we go, the sixth and last episode of Planet Dinosaur. The show took a break from maniraptors in the fourth and fifth episodes. The fourth episode showcased large Jurassic predators, specifically the allosaurid Allosaurus and a yet undescribed pliosauroid, the first discovered specimen of which has been nicknamed "Predator X". The fifth episode on the other hand discussed the giant sauropods Argentinosaurus and Paralititan, as well as their respective potential predators, the carcharodontosaurids Mapusaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. Maniraptors return in this last episode, however. Spoilers ahead.
One of the less desirable characteristics of Planet Dinosaur is that it's very theropod centric. Plesiosaurs and sauropods get some spotlight in the fourth and fifth episodes respectively and the giant pterosaur Hatzegopteryx gets good airtime in this one, but by and large it's theropods that get the main roles. If (the broadcast version of) Dinosaur Revolution should have been called "Saurischian Revolution", Planet Dinosaur probably should have been called "Planet Theropod". But then, as a maniraptor fan myself I can't complain too much.
The first maniraptor to make an appearance is Bradycneme. This maniraptor is known only from fragmentary remains. It was first thought to be a giant owl, but nowadays a troodont or alvarezsaurid identification is more common, and the show depicts it as a troodont. Once again the model is unsatisfactory. It's something of a shame that troodonts get the most screentime out of all maniraptor groups in this show when the troodont models are the most inaccurate. It was amusing though to see Bradycneme being shown while the narration was discussing threats to the sauropod Magyarosaurus, only to have Bradycneme attack... a lizard. The real threat is then shown to be Hatzegopteryx. Bradycneme also gets some airtime toward the end of the episode when the show does its obligatory K-Pg sequence, as another continuation of the "troodonts were probably the last non-neornithine dinosaurs to die off" meme, I guess. It was interesting to see a K-Pg setting not at Hell Creek.
Next up is the therizinosaur Nothronychus, which is shown browsing and using its claws to fight off predators (in this case a group of an undescribed tyrannosauroid taxon, nicknamed "Zunityrannus" in the show), as therizinosaurs tend to be. Although it is depicted with protofeathers, I felt the feathers were a little too contour hugging. Feathers we know of on Beipiaosaurus (which, granted, was much smaller than Nothronychus and probably lived in a more temperate environment) were very long and shaggy. It would have been nice to see bristle-like EBFFs (known on Beipiaosaurus and possibly some undescribed basal coelurosaurs) as well. The show points out that Nothronychus was a herbivore that descended from carnivorous ancestors, another good effort to include recent research.
It goes on to mention another group of herbivorous and omnivorous maniraptors, the oviraptorosaurs, and the giant oviraptorosaur Gigantoraptor makes a return. A pair of Gigantoraptor brood their nest and defend it from smaller oviraptorids (that also appeared in the second episode; I've been told that the accompanying book for Planet Dinosaur calls these Oviraptor) as well as the tyrannosauroid Alectrosaurus. This sequence was arguably my favorite of this episode; the one nitpick (besides the usual wing feather attachment issue) I have to make is that the smaller oviraptorids do the weird digging with their wings thing again. The movements and behaviors of the Gigantoraptor though are very reminiscent of large ground birds, particularly the leaping attacks they make towards the Alectrosaurus. At the end of the segment the show talks about how oviraptorosaurs are often found having been buried alive on their nests...
Then we come to the K-Pg segment that I mentioned earlier. I don't have a whole lot to say about it, other than the fact that it contains an anomaly that may be my least favorite part of the entire series. As the show talks about how the K-Pg event impacted different animal groups (Wikipedia regulars keep an eye out during the sequence, by the way; some of the silhouettes they use will look very familiar), it claims that 100% of "dinosaurs" became extinct, while 95% of birds became extinct... wait, what? It's almost understandable if they'd wanted to avoid the birds are dinosaurs thing for the sake of brevity, but the funny thing is they do get this right in the second episode! So much for consistency! I know that the whole "actually some dinosaurs are still alive today" is something of a cliched ending for dinosaur documentaries these days, but given the fact that this important discovery has not yet fully entered public consciousness, I don't think it's cliched enough. Only until birds being dinosaurs becomes as common knowledge as bats and whales being mammals would I suggest that it's remotely "safe" to drop opportunities to hammer home this fact.
So there we have it. I liked this episode, other than the ending, and as far as science communication goes the series as a whole is very good. (Any dinosaur documentary that can teach Mickey Mortimer something new has to be.) If you want a dinosaur show that actually incorporates science (and isn't Dinosaur Train), then be sure to check this one out.