"Alpha's Egg" is an episode of Dinosaur Planet. It originally aired on the Discovery Channel on December 14, 2003, with "Pod's Travels" premiering immediately after. The plot involves a Saltasaurus named Alpha, whose young to adult life is followed in the episode, while she dodges vicious predators such as her arch-rival Dragonfly and monstrous carcharodontosaurs.
- Unidentified carcharodontosaurs
- Unidentified dragonfly
|“||In prehistoric South America, starting out can be rough. Rougher still, staying alive. But for a plucky dinosaur like Alpha, dodging hungry predators is a constant routine. When she grows up, she'll become one of the biggest dinosaurs alive. Still, danger lurks behind every tree. Stalking her is Dragonfly, a predator with big bite and a will to use it. An encounter with him is a brush with death. As time goes by, their paths will cross many times, in frightening and unexpected ways. For one remarkable dinosaur, the journey through life is a heart-pounding adventure. And it all begins 80 million years ago, in Alpha's Egg.||”|
— The narrator
The episode starts with a herd of Saltasaurus, all of them female, heading for their nesting grounds. Alpha, a young heifer, is making the trip for the first time since she was born. The narrator explains that their only protection is their numbers and size. Saltasaurus aren't the only dinosaurs in the area, however: Aucasaurus lurk in the forests as well. Dragonfly, a teenage male, and his mate have been drawn by a corpse of a dead saltasaur. Knowing that no one's around, they walk over and eat. However, a pair of Carcharodontosaurs appear from the shadows and ruin their lunch, much to Dragonfly's dismay.
The nesting ground is a large flat river plain, larger than 3 football fields. Although Alpha needs to find a spot to lay her eggs, she's not the first to arrive, since the older females are veterans of building nests. Alpha builds a nest and lays her eggs for the first time. Then she and the herd head back to the forest to collect bushy leaves to incubate their eggs.
The program jumps back in time 15 years to the same ground, showing how Alpha's own story began.
Alpha's mother is seen leaving the nesting site, where she is presumably attacked by Dragonfly's parents. Approaching the hatching period, the nesting ground is still guarded by a couple of female Saltasaurus, keeping some potential plunderers off the nests. One of these, an Alvarezsaurus, pecks at an egg while pushing Alpha's away. However, a prehistoric crocodile, known as Notosuchus, scares the plunderer off, and pokes a hole in Alpha's egg, only to be fended off by an adult Saltasaurus. Alpha is the first of her nest to hatch.
Meanwhile in the forest, a young Aucasaurus, Dragonfly, is also born. His mother hears some rustling from the bushes, and a male Aucasaurus appears. She bares her teeth and hisses at him. The male is her mate, and he soothes her by inflating his throat pouch. While the female takes a nap, her babies have some fun. Dragonfly, the oldest, is goofing off with a dragonfly. He tries to grab it, but misses. Dragonfly will become a main enemy to Alpha.
That night, all the baby Saltasaurus have hatched, and they rush for the safety of the forest, dodging Alvarezsaurus and Notosuchus. Dozens of Saltasaurus calves are slain and devoured while they make a run for their lives. That morning, Alpha comes face to face with a hungry Notosuchus, but just in time, an adult Saltasaurus scares it away. Alpha and her fellow youngsters travel along with the adult Saltasaurus herd.
Moments later, the herd stops to browse on the treetops. At one point, they are interrupted by the same family of Aucasaurus. The male and his mate are teaching Dragonfly and his sisters how to hunt. They confront the adult Saltasaurs, but Dragonfly alerts his mother to one of the groups of Saltasaurus calves that split up in alarm. She turns her head, spots them and directs their assault on the calves, devouring five of them. As the adult Aucasaurs and the young females pass by, Alpha comes face to face with Dragonfly. Luckily, a dragonfly flies by and Dragonfly starts to chase it, and Alpha survives.
As Alpha enters adolescence, she meets Dragonfly again, this time in the wildlands. While Alpha and her herd head for a forest to eat, Dragonfly and his family are right behind them. Dragonfly eagerly darts towards Alpha. She startles him with a bellowing growl, and he jumps away. The Aucasaurus pack trots ahead. As Alpha browses from a tree, another female Saltasaurus comes forward and angrily shoves her aside to eat the leaves, but stumbles on a log, and tumbles down a hill, breaking her leg. Alerted by the injured females's screams of pain, the Aucasaurus pack heads over to her and kills the wounded animal, with one Aucasaurus piercing the Saltasaurus jugular. As they eat, Dragonfly slams his thigh into one of his sisters, but his father scolds him for this action and his rude behavior. The pack continues to eat. A while later, Dragonfly wakes up from a good nap, gets to his feet and heads off to look for a mate to start a pack with, since he knows that as long as he stays, he'll end up being scolded by his father.
Some time later, the mating season ensues, and Alpha is in heat. One young bull attempts to try his luck, but the older bull, who is the leader of the herd, challenges him to a duel: this involves shouting, followed by necking (like modern giraffes) and headbutting. The younger bull wins the duel and mates with Alpha. After the mating season ends, the herd heads toward the grasslands. On the way, Alpha, watching a stalking Dragonfly rather than the ground in front of her, nearly trips on a log and sprains her wrist. Soon after, Dragonfly finds a female Aucasaur around his age and attempts to seduce her by inflating his throat pouch, but she at first refuses. However, his persistence and inflatings of his throat pouch finally win her heart, and they become mates. Meanwhile, the herd passes through the grasslands, but watching them from the shadows are the pair of Carcharodontosaurs shown from the beginning. In spite of her sprained wrist, Alpha manages to outpace a sick, older female, who is mauled and devoured by the Carcharodontosaurs.
Soon, the herd reaches the nesting ground where the story began, and lay their eggs. But, after their nests are complete, a thunderstorm brews over the plain, and the nesting ground is in ruins. Following the deluge, the unborn Saltasaurus babies drown.
Later, as Alpha looks for a spot to eat, she senses Dragonfly and his mate nearby and readies herself for a duel with them. Dragonfly bares his teeth and goes for an attack. Alpha headbutts him, knocking him off balance. The female Aucasaurus dives in, and Alpha whips the female with her tail, knocking the Aucasaurus off her feet and rendering her unable to get up. Dragonfly recovers and lunges forward, but then Alpha rams Dragonfly, disorienting him for a short time. He wakes up from his disorientation and clamps his jaws on Alpha's left shoulder, but Alpha loses her balance and falls, crushing Dragonfly's skull under her weight. Alpha then rises to her feet, stares at Dragonfly's lifeless corpse and walks away, having won the duel. The Aucasaur female rises to her feet, having just witnessed the whole thing, and tries to wake Dragonfly up. To her horror, her attempts to awaken Dragonfly fail miserably, and this causes her to throw her head backwards and let loose a loud, mournful howl.
Alpha returns to her herd, and soon makes a full recovery despite her injury. The program ends on a happy note for Alpha, claiming that she will have hundreds of offspring during her hundred-year lifetime.
Science Channel (2010)
- This episode, along with all the other episodes, is trimmed down from 48 minutes to 43 minutes on the Essential Dinosaur Pack DVD, released in September 2008, possibly to allow the other Discovery documentaries on the disc, The Mystery Dinosaur (2006) and Dinosaurs: Return to Life? (2008) to fit on it.
- The episode was filmed at Kings Canyon National Park, California; and Sequoia National Forest, California.
- This is the third and final episode to be filmed in California.
- The Saltasaurs, Aucasaurs and Notosuchus are reused Titanosaur, Tarascosaur, and Allodaphosuchus models from Pod's Travels but with different color schemes. The Alvarezsaurus is also a reused Shuvuuia model from White Tip's Journey with a different color scheme.
- The way the Saltasaurus trips, falls, breaks its leg, and is killed by the Aucasaurus pack is possibly to pay homage to When Dinosaurs Roamed America, where an Apatosaurus trips, falls, breaks its leg, and is killed by a pack of Allosaurus at the end of the late Jurassic sequence.
- This episode features the least amount of creatures of all of the episodes, at just five identified species.
- In another note, Saltasaurus is the only herbivorous animal shown in the episode, even though other titanosaurs known also lived at the same time (e.g. Antarctosaurus and Neuquensaurus).
- This episode and "Pod's Travels" do not end on a Palaeontology Segment.
- Michael Olmert and Georgann Kane wrote the narration for this episode and "White Tip's Journey".
- In this episode and White Tip's Journey Scott Sampson is wearing a red shirt.