Dinosaurs are an integral part of Power Rangers’ central mythology, but unfortunately, scientific accuracy is not. The new film is liberal with its references to the Cenozoic Era, which is when Rita Repulsa, Zordon, and the whole Dinozord gang is said to have come into existence. But if we traveled to the Cenozoic with only Power Rangers science as our guide, we’d be in for a hell of a letdown.
Actually, we’re still in the Cenozoic. Roughly translated to the “Age of Recent Life,” it started about 65 million years ago and gave rise to millions of animals, most of which were mammals. In the early stages of the Cenozoic, animals like rodents, horses, elephants, and rhinoceros appeared; later, the saber-toothed cats and woolly mammoths showed up. Crucially, they thrived — and that’s because there were no dinosaurs around to prey on them. The Cenozoic began just as the dinosaurs went extinct.
When paleontologists refer to the “Age of Dinosaurs,” a period that started some 145 million years ago, they’re referring to the Cretaceous period, which in turn happened at the tail end of the Metazoic Era. (Scientists break the Earth’s history down into Eras, which are further broken down into periods, then epochs.)
The Red Ranger’s Tyrannosaurus rex, the Blue Ranger’s Triceratops, and the Pink Ranger’s Pterodactyl would have been at home back then, but they certainly wouldn’t have fraternized with the Yellow Ranger’s saber-toothed tiger or the Black Ranger’s woolly mammoth. Those mammals existed during the tail end of the Cenozoic — around the Pleistocene and the Holocene epochs — about 140 million years after the dinosaurs.
Some might argue that the pink Pterodactyl Zord’s roots in the Cenozoic aren’t terribly inconsistent with scientific fact. While flying dinosaurs didn’t make it from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic, birds did — and the fossil record has shown that modern birds are descendants of the Mesozoic’s flying reptiles.
Nevertheless, the Cenozoic-era dinosaur-mammal party Power Rangers imagines is simply wishful thinking. The mammals simply wouldn’t have survived if the reptilian meat-eaters were around. Fortunately for the Power Rangers’ morale, however, the humans inside the Zords don’t take the violent predilections of their inner beasts too seriously.