How ‘Prehistoric Planet’ Used Chickens to Fabricate the Sound of Dinosaurs Mating

“Prehistoric Planet” is back on Apple TV+ with over two dozen new extinct species to explore. Given the amount of dinosaurs and birds, the biggest challenge for supervising sound editor Jonny Crew was “capturing those prehistoric sounds.”

Without a library of extinct sounds to pull from, Crew, who also worked on the first season, says the trickiest task was distinguishing the sounds of different birds. That’s where chickens helped crack an important moment in the show’s first episode, titled “Islands,” in which audiences are exposed to the behavior of the Hatzegopteryx, a stork-like reptile. A key scene focused on two dinosaurs mating.

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“Whether you’re in a rainforest or swamp, the birds are going to sound different, but at that time birds hadn’t properly evolved,” Crew tells Variety. The challenge was capturing the sound of “massive, ferocious creatures having this tender moment together.”

Crew says, “Paleontologist Darren Naish suggested that the sound of a chicken purring could be used as a starting point. The romantic moment between the dinosaurs was the foundation of that.”

He adds, “I had a very fierce chicken known as Evil Bluebell — she’s no longer with us. She had a ferocious sound that was a fierce-sounding squawk. So, when the creatures are hunting and fighting, I used that sound as the basis for those scenes.”

In contrast, honing a sonic landscape for the underwater scenes was more straightforward. Having worked on “Blue Planet,” which mainly took place under the surface, Crew says, “Putting microphones underwater in those sequences doesn’t sound hugely interesting, but you can pick up whale sounds and go from there to create that sense of being underwater.”

Elsewhere, Crew and his team looked at how to raise the bar from the show’s first season. “That meant upping the game as far as sound, behavior and graphics, and delving deeper into the world that surrounds the Cretaceous period,” he says.

Watch a clip on the show’s sound design below.

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