Little Das' Hunt is the third episode of Dinosaur Planet. It aired on the Discovery Channel on December 16, 2003, and was followed by Alpha's Egg immediately after. This episode follows the life of Little Das, a juvenile Daspletosaurus trying to find his way in the world and successfully hunt with his mother and sisters. However, a catastrophe waits to shroud upon all of the dinosaurs in Late Cretaceous Montana, seventy-five million years ago.
- Tyrannosaurus rex
|“||Beneath the wings of giants is a land that thunders with the tread of restless herds, and echoes with the cries of killers, large and small. As a hunter, Little Das is a little wet behind the ears, but he's determined to prove himself. His targets? They are prehistoric runaways: Buck and Blaze. They must find their herd... or die. Now, a gathering storm of fire and stone falls from the sky. And a wall of searing heat threatens all in its path. In the forgotten land called North America, Little Das' Hunt begins.||”|
— The narrator
In prehistoric Montana in the Late Cretaceous era, huge grasslands and patches of forest cover the region and the area is bordered by active volcanoes. The Rocky Mountains are being formed with numerous, minor volcanic eruptions.
In the highlands, a herd of Orodromeus are grazing on the long grasses sprouting from the nutrient-rich volcanic soil. As they graze, a trio of hunting Troodon watch from behind the trees and ready themselves to lunge at the herd. But before they can do so, the lookout dinosaur spots them and wails a distress call. The dinosaurs flee in terror and move incredibly fast as the Troodon chase after them. However, the predators are forced to slow down on a rocky hill covered in small boulders because they can't afford to break their foot claws in such a reckless race. Suddenly, the ground shakes as a deadly blast of superheated water smashes through the ground as a geyser, propelling one of the Troodon into the air. It then crashes down dead, having died instantly upon impact. Their hunt ends with disastrous results, and the remaining Troodon turn and retreat as other geysers punch up through the air everywhere.
Meanwhile, in the lowlands, a herd of Maiasaura are walking across the plains. Two younger animals, Buck and Blaze, decide to wander away from their herd to forage on the slopes. Suddenly, they are confronted by Little Das, a young Daspletosaurus, who begins to chase them further away from the herd, who occasionally watch as they move along. Das's older sisters then chase Buck and Blaze towards their mother, who appears from the trees and bites Buck deep on his right back leg. Because of his boundless excitement, Little Das accidentally slams into his mother; she stumbles and her jaws lose their hold on the struggling dinosaur, allowing the Maiasaura to return to their herd. Das gets to his feet, and his mother bites him in anger. The other Daspletosaurus also growl at him.
The next day, worrying that Das will ruin the hunt, Das' mother and sisters leave him in a grove of trees. When Das can't find them he goes searching and finds a herd of Einiosaurus, horned dinosaurs, grazing on the plains. Thinking he is a scout for an older Daspletosaurus, the Einiosaurs stampede, alerting the Maiasaura to the danger, and Little Das yet again ruins the hunt as she had been just about to ambush the herd. Meanwhile, the highland animals – Orodromeus, Troodon and flying pterosaurs such as Quetzalcoatlus – are beginning to see signs of the inevitable volcanic explosion. The water inside the lake the Orodromeus herd drink from is boiling, and one of the Quetzalcoatlus nesting grounds are demolished by geysers that erupt out of the ground as the cliffside collapses. The pterosaurs all launch off and fly away to get to new nesting grounds. Only the pterosaurs will escape and survive the approaching fiery eruption as they will until the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, Little Das and his family are once again on the hunt, targeting the injured Buck. The Einiosaurus herd and the Maiasaura are grazing together. When the Daspletosaurus attack, the Einiosaurus form a barricade to defend themselves from the Daspletosaurus, shielding Buck as well in the process. Buck desperately struggles after the retreating herd and Blaze stays by his side at all times. When the Daspletosaurus spot him, they go around the Einiosaurus and continue to go after him. The family is startled by the corpse of a fallen Quetzalcoatlus that was hit by an erupting geyser while flying and killed by the boiling water before spiraling back to the ground. Little Das takes a whiff of the corpse, but he sneezes violently. Agitated, Little Das stomps on the corpse and storms off after Buck's trail, with his family following.
But when they approach, the volcano erupts violently, miles of sky are lost in a heavy blanket of volcanic ash and dust that block out all the sunlight. Visibility is poor and the Daspletosaursus must rely on their keen sense of smell to find their target. Buck must use sensitive hearing to listen for the cries of his herd and of Blaze. Small pieces of glass and soot begin to fall from the sky. Closer to the volcano, huge burning pieces of rock erupt from the seething crater and the lava missiles all come plummeting down amongst the forest. One Troodon is killed instantly by a falling lava boulder. After the eruption, the ash cloud begins to clear, some sunlight shines through. But, the west flank of the mountain collapses under the intense pressure from the bubbling magma and a pyroclastic flow begins to engulf the land. Its a wall of superheated rock, debris and ash that destroys everything around it and levels the forests and grasslands.
The temperature under the flow and within it exceed 800 degrees. It levels the highlands first and then the lowlands, completely suffocating every dinosaur from Montana to the Western Interior Seaway. Most of the Troodon are blasted away by the flow as it destroys the forest. The Daspletosaurus abandon the hunt to flee the approaching flow which they process as a threat. The mother, the sisters and Das all flee but the flow catches up and they are killed. The retreating Maiasaura are also buried by the flow. Buck and Blaze die as well.
We then shift seven million years forward in time. Most of life is sustained again as the eruptions have ceased. Most dinosaurs have evolved. Maiasaura has evolved into Edmontosaurus, and Daspletosaurus has evolved into Tyrannosaurus rex. The story then ends as a young Tyrannosaurus rex and its mother look down upon on a herd of Edmontosaurus, including an immature one. The conflict between them continues the stories of their ancient ancestors: Buck and Das.
- This episode was filmed in Mesa Ranch, Nogal, New Mexico; Vista Rio Bonito, New Mexico; Bonito Lake Recreation Area, New Mexico; Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico; and Sequoia National Forest, California.
- This is the only episode to take place 75 million years ago, rather than 80 like the other three.
- This episode uses stock footage from the Tyrannosaurus scenes in When Dinosaurs Roamed America, during one of the palaeontology segments.
- This episode and White Tip's Journey end with a palaeontology segment.
- Stephen Eder wrote the narration for this episode and Pod's Travels.