Home Dinosaur Episode 442: Dinosaur instruments in Prehistoric Planet

Episode 442: Dinosaur instruments in Prehistoric Planet

Episode 442: Dinosaur instruments in Prehistoric Planet


Episode 442: Dinosaur instruments in Prehistoric Planet. Anže Rozman and Kara Talve, join from Bleeding Fingers Music. They along with Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer created the soundscape for Prehistoric Planet.


  • There’s a new pachycephalosaur dinosaur, Platytholus clemensi source
  • A new silesaur shows that they weren’t smaller than other dinosauromorphs source


Anže Rozman and Kara Talve, two of the composers from the collective at Bleeding Fingers Music. They along with Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer recently created the soundscape for Apple TV+ and BBC’s Prehistoric Planet. They won their category in the Hollywood Music in Media Awards and were nominated for other awards as well. They created several instruments for the show including the Fat Rex, Hadro Cello, Triserachord, Raptor Violin, and Petrified Wood Xylyophone (shown below).


The dinosaur of the day: Zalmoxes

  • Rhabdodontid ornithopod that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Romania (Hateg Basin)
  • Rhabdodontids were ornithopods that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Europe, when Europe was a chain of islands
  • Looked like a typical ornithopod, kind of like Iguanodon but smaller. Walked on two legs, had long arms, a long tail, an elongated skull
  • Had a large triangular head and a beak
  • Herbivorous, and may have eaten tough plants like horsetails and ferns
  • Two species: Zalmoxes robustus and Zalmoxes shqiperorum
  • Type species is Zalmoxes robustus
  • Zalmoxes subadults found on Hateg Island, that range from 6.6 to 7.9 ft (2 to 2.4 m) long
  • Zalmoxes shqiperorum was stockier and larger
  • Zalmoxes shqiperorum is larger, with one subadult found that’s 8.2 ft (2.5 m) long
  • One juvenile Zalmoxes is 9.5 ft (2.9 m) long
  • Because it’s a Hateg dinosaur, has been thought to be a dwarf dinosaur, but not everyone agrees
  • In 2009, Zoltan Csiki and others questioned whether the Hateg dinosaurs were really dwarfs
  • Did histology on long bones of Zalmoxes specimens
  • Found 13 growth marks (LAGs) in a Zalmoxes robustus and 7 in a Zalmoxes shqiperorum, so they weren’t juveniles
  • However, also found the specimens were still actively growing when they died, so we haven’t yet found a fully grown Zalmoxes
  • Found Zalmoxes had a slow growth rate
  • In 2012, Attila Osi and others described a rhabdodontid, the oldest known one by 15 million years, that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Hungary
  • Assigned it to Mochlodon vorosi
  • Did histology and compared it to Zalmoxes, and this specimen of Mochlodon helps show Zalmoxes was not a dwarf dinosaur
  • Found that the ancestral rhabdodontid had a femur lengths of 298–339 mm, which is close in size to the femur of Zalmoxes (which ranged from 320 to 333 mm)
  • Both Mochlodon and Zalmoxes lived on islands, however Mochlodon was even smaller
  • Mochlodon specimens that are about 3.9 to 5.9 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m) long have features that indicate they are adults. However, late juvenile Zalmoxes specimens are about 6.5 ft (2 m) long
  • In 2017, Steve Brusatte and others described a number of new Zalmoxes specimens
  • Has been found in multiple areas, or localities, of the Hateg Basin
  • Both species lived alongside each other
  • More specimens have been found over the years, and Zalmoxes is now one of the most common dinosaurs found on Hateg Island
  • About 80% of the skull of Zalmoxes robustus is known
  • Most of the skeleton has been found
  • At least 22 Zalmoxes individuals have been found in just one locality (up to 25)
  • They didn’t necessarily live together, and they were found spread throughout the locality
  • Zalmoxes shqiperorum was named based on an incomplete adult specimen and some referred fossils, and then later more fossils were assigned to Zalmoxes shqiperorum. However, Brusatte and others said it was hard to refer fossils to either species because many fossils that were found were disarticulated and/or isolated, so hard to tell where they belonged
  • Also, though the species have unique features, it’s hard to compare them to close relatives because we don’t have the same bones of those relatives to compare them to. It’s also unclear if some differences between the species are because of individual variation or ontogeny, and it is possible there’s sexual dimorphism, as Nopcsa had suggested
  • Brusatte et al. said a comprehensive revision of Zalmoxes “is becoming increasingly necessary” and that study has begun, so for their paper they accepted that there are two species of Zalmoxes, and referred some specimens to each species
  • Described multiple individuals, most were isolated bones
  • Described some teeth that were larger than the holotype of Zalmoxes, which “illustrate that Zalmoxes, or at least Z. shqiperorum, could reach a reasonably large size, although still much smaller than the rhabdodontid Rhabdodon priscus from Late Cretaceous faunas in Western Europe”
  • In 2022, Felix Augustin and others found two partial braincases previously thought to be Zalmoxes to actually be Telmatosaurus
  • To recap, there are two species: Zalmoxes robustus and Zalmoxes shqiperorum
  • Zalmoxes now, but first thought to be Mochlodon robustum
  • Described in 1899 by Franz Nopcsa (Nopcsa referred to Mochlodon, an ornithopod named by H.G. Seeley, found in Austria),
  • Referred to part of the material as Mochlodon suessi and part of it to Mochlodon robustum
  • Later, in 1915, said Mochlodon may be the same as Rhabdodon and that the differences were from sexual dimorphism
  • Nopcsa compared the fossils with other ornithopods from Europe and North America (Camptosaurus) and found it to be similar to Rhabdodon, found in France
  • In 1990 George Olshevsky corrected the name to Rhabdodon robustus
  • Named by Weishampel and others in 2003 as Zalmoxes robustus (found enough differences)
  • Genus name refers to the Dacian deity Zalmoxis, who retreated in a crypt for three years to be resurrected on the fourth year (similar to how the fossils were liberated)
  • Zalmoxes was also a slave of Pythagoras who traveled to Dacia and became a deity
  • Species name robustus refers to its robust build
  • In 2003, another species named Zalmoxes shqiperorum (for the Albanian name for Albania)

Fun Fact:

Happy world metrology day! (May 20th) If we used the T. rex Sue’s skull to define the length of one “skull” unit, Ankylosaurus would be about 6–7 skulls long & Apatosaurus would be about 15–16 skulls long.

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