Go behind-the-scenes of Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular, based on the BBC television series, with Science Friday as they explore the wide variety of high-tech ways that these 20 gigantic dinosaur puppets move around on stage. In the story, time-traveling British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley adventures across 230 million years, beginning in the Triassic period, to see these creatures, and though that premise is fanciful, the dinosaurs are based on animals and evolving dino research to (hopefully) be more realistic.

For inspiration, The Creature Technology Company team pored through scientific and popular science literature to understand, generally, what various dinosaurs might have looked like. They also observed the way large, living animals, such as elephants and giraffes, move.

Constructing the puppets required working “from the inside out…” Autopsy one of the behemoths, and you’ll find architecture somewhat similar to a real animal’s. For starters, the larger puppets have a skeleton made of steel, complete with points of articulation that allow their bodies to move in a way that seems natural.

Cover that with stretchy, styrene bead-filled muscle bags, a lycra skin, and hand-painted details to make them look like biological creatures. When the curtain goes up, a team of drivers, suit performers, and “voodoo puppeteers” help the dinosaurs come alive with a lot of technology. Watch and read more about it at ScienceFriday.com.

Related watching: more videos about dinosaurs including Siats Meekerorum, Dreadnoughtus schrani, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, Paleontology 101 with Dr. Lindsay Zanno, and TED Ed’s How did feathers evolve?

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