Latest in-game rendition of Hell Creek.[1]

"#01 Location

Bone Butte is the name given to a fossil site located in the north-west corner of South Dakota. The sediments forming this site were deposited by an ancient river some 66 million years ago, within the last few thousands of years of the Late Cretaceous. The site is part of a larger geological formation known as the Hell Creek Formation, which stretches throughout Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming."

― Saurian encyclopedia

C by chrismasna-dcurn7z

Illustrated landscape of the formation, featuring a female Anzu running and a Meniscoessus in the forest floor.

Hell Creek is the main setting of the video game Saurian. Geographically spanning Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas, it yields fossils of some of the most famous dinosaurs, such as Triceratops, Ankylosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. In particular, Saurian takes place in a fossil site of the Hell Creek Formation referred to as Bone Butte, in South Dakota, the location where Dakotaraptor was discovered.[2]


Geological map of Bone Butte as shown in Saurian.


Concept art of flooding in the Hell Creek formation.

"#02 Geology

At this site, during the Cretaceous, a small river flowed in a south-easterly direction, towards the remnants of a large inland sea (called the Western Interior Seaway) that occupied the central Dakotas at the time. Another, smaller tributary flowed from the north and connected to the main channel close to the mouth of the river. Bone Butte was formed by a stretch of this smaller tributary close to the connection point. Over time, the smaller channel became connected at a different location further upstream, cutting off the Bone Butte portion, which became an elongate oxbow lake. This became an ideal environment for preserving the remains of plants and animals to be discovered millions of years later."

― Saurian encyclopedia

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In-game subadult Dakotaraptor travelling through the Hell Creek's landscape.

Hell Creek is the only location planned to be featured in Saurian, however, the developers have stated that the Two Medicine Formation with Gorgosaurus and Styracosaurus (Rubeosaurus under its invalid classifcation Styracosaurus ovatus) as playable dinosaurs would have been made if their Kickstarter campaign reached $300K, however that goal wasn't met and it is expected not to be featured in the final game.[3] The Duluth News Tribute has also reported that if the base game retains a fervent audience, future versions will feature locations based on other fossil formations, such as the Morrison Formation.[4]


"#04 Fauna

Among this saturated redwood forest lived a community of animals a little different from the wider Hell Creek fauna. The dense foliage provided an ideal environment for smaller dinosaurs, with the herbivorous ornithischians Pachycephalosaurus and Thescelosaurus and the theropods Ornithomimus and Acheroraptor being the most common. The giant dromaeosaurid Dakotaraptor has so far been found only at Bone Butte. Giant dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus and Anatosaurus did occupy Bone Butte as well, just with much less frequency; these animals preferring the more open areas of Hell Creek.

Smaller critters also called Bone Butte home, especially wading waterbirds which pecked for seeds and invertebrates among the horsetails. A rich non-dinosaurian fauna also existed. Primitive mammals and lizards scurried in the underbrush and the river itself was home to a diverse array of turtles, crocodilians, fish and amphibians."

― Saurian encyclopedia

A variety of animals are known from the Hell Creek Formation, and a lot will be found in the game of Saurian:

Other animals from this formation were considered for appearance in the game but were eventually scrapped:

Other animals from the Hell Creek Formation have been shown only in concept art designs, like in the official game's artbook, but their future presence in the game is unknown:

Other animals will be present in the game, but their real life presence in the Hell Creek Formation is dubious or speculative:

Other animals were considered for appearance in the game but were scrapped, because they were absent in the Hell Creek Formation:

Other animals, not directly or dubiously known from the Hell Creek Formation, are also known just through concept art designs and mentions, but their real-life presence in the game is unknown:

Many other animals lived in the Hell Creek Formation but they are not known to be even considered for appearance in the game. Some marine invertebrates, like the ammonites are absent in the game, but were very common back in the Mesozoic. A huge variety of bony fish existed in Hell Creek, like sturgeons and the extinct Belonostomus, but currently there's only the gar Lepisosteus (other bony fish are known to be in the artbook). Cartilaginous fish like requiem sharks were also present, beyond the currently confirmed Lonchidion. Amphibians currently confirmed for the game are only the giant salamander Habrosaurus, as other small amphibians are left out (despite their inclusion in the artbook). Other dinosaurs from Hell Creek weren't included, possibly due to the fact that they were irrelevant for the gameplay, rare in Hell Creek or not present in the Bone Butte region. Sphaerotholus was a small pachycephalosaur whose appearance would be innacurate due to living in Montana, not South Dakota, and instead Pachycephalosaurus is present. Triceratops horridus does not appear due to the existence of Triceratops prorsus which was the only one properly present in the very end of the Maastrichtian of South Dakota, where Bone Butte is located. The inclusion of Anzu in the game makes the appearance of the Leptorhynchos of Montana unnecessary. A huge variety of turtles are known from Hell Creek, but the game leaves the ones that are more relevant, specially the ones which are big enough to be relevant in a dinosaur-centered game, like the 1-1,5 meter long Basilemys and Axestemys. Squamates variety on the game is significantly reduced to leave the most relevant members, therefore too small lizards and snakes are left out. A large variety of mammals in Hell Creek was diminute, so the game leaves us with significantly larger species of mammals, like Meniscoessus and Didelphodon.


A happy peaceful day in the late cretaceous hell creek

A rendition of the Hell Creek sky, partially covered by Cretaceous flora.

"#03 Environment

The Bone Butte tributary and oxbow existed in a flat, frequently flooded portion of the floodplain. These waterlogged soils harboured a forest of bald cypress and dawn redwood trees, towering overhead and sheltering the local animals below. Their periodic dropping of leaves can be seen throughout the sediment. In the undergrowth, horsetails formed dense thickets along the banks of the river, and the aquatic angiosperm Cobbania grew in areas of slow or standing water. Flowering plants predominantly grew further away from the Bone Butte location, in drier soils. Their leaves were periodically washed in when storms raised the water velocity."

― Saurian encyclopedia

Behind the scenesEdit

The Hell Creek Formation was chosen by the developers because it was where Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus lived, both which are famous dinosaurs.[10]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. (March 17, 2016) Saurian Facebook Timeline.
  2. Turinetti, Nick. (April 17, 2016) April 13th Livestream: The Aftermath. Saurian Website. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  3. SAURIAN - An open world dinosaur survival experience. Kickstarter.
  4. Salter, Brady. (June 24, 2016) Dino-themed video game soaring: Duluth man part of development team that raised $220K online. Duluth News Tribute.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The World of Saurian. Saurian Website. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Parker, Tom. (August 19, 2016) Saurian DevLog #1. Saurian Website. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  7. Saurian DevLog #18
  8. Episode 65: Saurian. Palaeocast.
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named DevLog18
  10. Marrazzo, Joey. (June 7, 2016) Dino Talk with Saurian Devs Urvogel Studios. GameSkinny. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
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