Speculation on what the guys at Pixar are up to is always a popular topic around these parts, and when website Gordon and the Whale speculated last summer that the next project in the animation company's queue might be something involving dinosaurs, we all got excited. The basis for that hypothesis centered on a series of dinosaur-themed concept art featured in the background on one of Up's special features. The idea became even more plausible when we learned that animator Austin Madison and character sculptor Greg Dykstra had taken several animators on a field trip to archaeological sites at the Black Hills Institute in South Dakota. What could it all mean?

Turns out it means almost exactly what we suspected. Pixar's next project involves teaming up with The Discovery Channel to create a program entitled Reign of the Dinosaurs!. Sure, it's not the feature-length dino-flick we were all anticipating, but even small screen Pixar is better than no Pixar at all, right?

Billed as "Avatar meets Jurassic Park", the special aims to teach us all more about dinosaurs while making learning fun by combining it with Pixar's animation and Hollywood storytelling. Normally, the idea of combining educational programming with Hollywood-styled production values would make me a little wary -- but Discovery and Pixar both have excellent track records and I find the idea of them collaborating interesting.

No official air date has been set for Reign of the Dinosaurs!, but this story came about because the program was announced on Discovery's Upfront Schedule for 2010-2011. That would seem to indicate that we'll be spending time with T-Rex and friends in the not too distant future.