What Does the Dinosaur Say? Coo, Quack, Bellow, and Buzz
When we think of dinosaur sounds, most of us think of that iconic Jurassic Park-style roar: open mouth, teeth dripping with blood and saliva, a blast of air filled with the most ferocious of sounds. All of which typically precede at least one character’s gruesome demise.
It’s a great noise. Scary. Fierce. Familiar enough to be easily recognizable, yet alien enough to send shivers of fear through everyone who hears it.
The only problem with the roar? We now know that dinosaurs probably didn’t sound like that. Most of their bodies just weren’t built to make those kinds of sounds. Instead, they bellowed and buzzed, cooed and quacked.
That’s all fine and well for the dinosaurs, but it sucks for a roleplaying game. After all, cooing isn’t exactly going to scare your players into fighting (or running) for their lives. Or is it? Have a listen to the sounds at some of the links below, from alligators bellowing to slowed-down chickadees, and see for yourself if you want to add a little realistic audio-excitement to your Predation game.
Alligator bellows are particularly appropriate, as they closely replicate the closed-mouth sound that dinosaurs might have made when guarding their territories. In fact, most crocodilian sounds could work as dinosaur stand-ins, from territory guarding to mating rituals.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has some great audio clips of alligators bellowing.
You can also watch videos of alligators bellowing, which show how some dinosaurs might have created these sounds, using their throats and a closed mouth. Great ideas for describing dinosaurs in action!
This video from the BBC even shows a device that causes alligators to start their mating rituals, which includes bellowing and a “water dance.” Imagine a device that made a noise causing dinosaurs to do the same!
Here’s another alligator mating call. It’s not hard to imagine your players’ responses to being surrounded by dinosaurs calling to their mates.
While some dinosaurs might have cooed like doves, they were obviously much, much larger. So, imagine a 10-ton dove cooing as it chases you through the jungle, and you’d be getting closer to the right experience.
The sounds of these chickadees slowed down gives you an idea of what more bird-like dinosaurs might have sounded like. (Note: I couldn’t watch the whole video the first time I tried, because our puppy was sure that whatever was making the sounds wanted to eat her. So I had to finish it with my headphones on).
Mixes and General Jungle Sounds
This video has a fantastic mix of sounds to create a sense of atmosphere and give your players the sense of being surrounded dinosaurs and other creatures as they move through the Cretaceous jungle.
A recording from the Australian rainforest that sounds ethereal and beautiful, as well as potentially deadly.
Plate Mail Games, which makes a variety of great soundtracks for games, has two cool and long tracks that work well with Predation. One is Jurassic Forest, which is ten minutes of forest immersion—full of huge footsteps, giant bugs, and roaring dinosaurs off in the distance. Black Mud Swamp provides a sense of thick mud bubbling all around while you hear footsteps slogging through the muck.
Syrinscape is another great resource for Cretaceous-themed ambient background sounds. Check out Jungle (Tropical) for sticky heat and biting insects, or Flooded Cavern for deep underground pools and drips. Or mix and match your own—combine the mighty roars from Red Dragon City Raid with Desert Camp, and you’ve got a T. rex rampaging through a community along the Chalk Road.