Walking with Beasts

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BBC (ended 2001)

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Episode Guide

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  • Season 1
    • The Beasts Within
      11/28/01
      9.8
      This behind-the-scenes special details the science behind the evolution of the primates and the rise of the human race to dominance. In the process, the program attempts to answer an age-old question: was man behind the last great extinction after the Ice Age?
    • Triumph of the Beasts
      11/21/01
      9.5
      A behind-the-scenes look at the science behind the series. The program documents the research involved in bringing the story of the rise of mammals to dominance to the screen.
    • Mammoth Journey
      Episode 6
      12/20/01
      10
      By 240 million years ago (the Late Permian period), the Earth had turned into a desert planet, precipitating the largest mass extinction event of all time. Conditions were merciless and eventually less than 5% of life on Earth would survive. The landscape was dominated by herds of herbivorous Lystrosaurus, whose numbers represented 80% of all life on Earth. With so much meat available, predators were never far away in particular, the fearsome sabre-toothed gorgonopsids, who were just looking for the chance to strike. Bizarrely, all these creatures were more closely related to mammals than to dinosaurs. Instead, the dinosaurs?? forebears clung on during this grim period, desperately trying to escape the gorgonopsid's jaws. At the end of the Permian, the gorgonopsid morphs into a small, furry, ferret-like animal (the first mammal), which in turn becomes bigger and stronger.moreless
    • Mammoth Journey
      Mammoth Journey
      Episode 6
      12/20/01
      9.9
      The Ice Age has arrived, putting life in the freezer. It is at this time when great herds of Woolly Mammoths live on the plains of what will eventually be the North Sea. As winter arrives, the Mammoth herds head south, moving to greener pastures. It is not an easy journey, especially for the young. Predators are everywhere, and the most dangerous of all are two species of humans that share the Ice Age environments of the mammoths.moreless
    • Sabre Tooth
      Sabre Tooth
      Episode 5
      12/13/01
      9.8
      South America is a land time forgot, with giant birds, the last of a trunked, hoofed herbivore, huge sloths, and giant armadillos. But the isolation of this continent has ended; and land bridge now connects South America with North America. With it has come a new species of predator; Smilodon, the infamous saber-toothed "tiger". But life here is no easier for the largest of all cats, especially for Half Tooth, a large male Smilodon. Having been usurped by two other males for breeding rights with a clan of females, Half Tooth struggles to survive on his own, a daunting prospect that claims many a lone male's life. But fate has a different agenda in store for Half Tooth.moreless
    • Sabre-tooth
      Episode 5
      12/13/01
      10
      By 280 million years ago (the early Permian period), an Ice Age had wiped out the dense coal-forests and with them most of the giant insects and amphibians. A new group of animals and plants took over. Foremost among these were the reptiles, whose bodies could cope with the new dry, cold conditions. They became the giants of the early Permian. Heat was at a premium and the mornings saw a race between predator and prey to see who could warm up faster. Giant sail-finned reptiles, such as Dimetrodon, wandered this desolate landscape, snapping at anything that came within range, including each other. As we watch, Dimetrodon twists and shrinks, becoming more sleek and wolf-like until it eventually turns into gorgonopsid, a predatory mammal-like reptile.moreless
    • Next of Kin
      Next of Kin
      Episode 4
      12/6/01
      9.8
      The Pliocene has arrived, and the world is taking on its familiar shape. In the Great Rift Valley of Africa, the animals are taking familiar forms, though some exotic forms are wondering around with animals modern man would be familiar with. It is here that a new species of ape has evolved, one that will one day evolve into the most powerful animal ever seen.moreless
    • Next of Kin
      Episode 4
      12/6/01
      10
      By 300 million years ago (the Carboniferous period), the plants had finally got a grip on the Earth's soil. This was the age of the coal-forests, a bizarre world of dense, impenetrable swamps filled with club-mosses and tree-ferns. Although amphibians were making inroads along the rivers, the main forests were ruled by the insects and they grew enormous with their success. Three-foot-long dragonflies battled with two-foot-wide spiders, but the most deadly of all was Arthropleura, an animal that looked like a ten-foot-long woodlouse but which hunted like a deadly anaconda. In this terrifying world, the first reptiles, such as Petrolacosaurus, fought to save their eggs. At the end of our visit to the coal forests, we watch as Petrolacosaurus transforms into the gigantic and terrifying carnivorous reptile Dimetrodon.moreless
    • 11/29/01
      10
      By 360 million years ago (the Devonian period), the scorpions had had their day. Next it was turn of the fish to grow large and take over the role of top predator. Some armoured fish, such as Dunkleosteus, grew to ten meters or more and even hunted the recently evolved sharks. Meanwhile, other types of fish were tempted onto land, lumbering aquatic beasts slipping and sliding after the creepy-crawly colonialists that had tried to escape the water. One or two found this new environment, with its dense moss forests, so attractive that their fins became firmer and five digits grew at the end. This was Acanthostega, the ancestor of all mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs. But land was no sanctuary. Lying in wait for Acanthostegsa was the deadly 'sliding fish' that could grow to 30 feet long and two tons in weight.moreless
    • Land of Giants
      Land of Giants
      Episode 3
      11/29/01
      8.9
      It is now the Oligocene period, and the massive change in climate claimed 1 in every 5 species. The great tropical forests and plains that dominated the Eocene have shrunk, hanging on in the equatorial regions. In Mongolia, a seasonal desert now dominates the land, populated with some of the largest beasts ever to roam its landscape since the days of the dinosaurs. The are Hyenadon, predators as big as modern rhinos; Entelodonts, mean spirited pigs just as big; and largest of all, the massive Indricotheres, a species of rhino that was the biggest land mammal ever!moreless
    • Whale Killer
      Episode 2
      11/22/01
      10
      Around 410 million years ago (the Silurian period), the first sea creatures were beginning make forays onto the land. The first group to successfully do so were the scorpions. For some time, they had been successful predators in the sea, with only the squid's ancestors threatening them. But then, some swarmed onto land, while others grew so large (3 meters or more in length) in the sea that they had no natural enemies. This was Scorpion World, where huge shoals of trilobites were food and fish had to be heavily armoured to escape giant claws. We follow the perilous journey of a shoal of Alaspis, our distant fishy ancestors, as they attempt to migrate from the sea to a lake to spawn. At the end, we see an Alaspis morph and transform, growing in size and stature until it becomes Acanthostega, a Devonian amphibian.moreless
    • Whale Killer
      Whale Killer
      Episode 2
      11/22/01
      9.6
      The late Eocene is a time of great change, but not a pleasant one for Earth's life form. Antarctica has separated from the other continents and is slowly freezing, changing the ocean currents. This is playing havoc with the climate, creating environmental disasters worldwide. Into this world has evolved the most fearsome whale ever to live; Basilosaurus. With ocean food stocks in chaos, a female Basilosaurus must search her home in the Tethys Sea from north to south, to satisfy her enormous hunger. And she is also pregnant.moreless
    • New Dawn
      Episode 1
      11/15/01
      10
      Around 550 million years ago (the Cambrian period), a revolution happened. Our distant, soft-bodied ancestors evolved teeth, claws, graspers, hooks, spines and all manner of other weapons. This was evolution of the predators. As a consequence, life went through an explosion of variety. In the Cambrian sea, every creature stalked, shuffled and swam through the sunlit waters. No sooner did thick armour evolve for defence, but creatures like the mighty Anomalocaris evolved a round, crushing mouth to destroy it. In this sea, the segmented Tuzoia gave rise to all crabs and insects, the round Arkarua became ancestor of starfish and sea urchins, and the small harmless Pikaia became ancestor to everything with a backbone, from the Great White shark to the dinosaurs.moreless
    • New Dawn
      New Dawn
      Episode 1
      11/15/01
      9.6
      Over 15 million years after the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, Earth has recovered from the massive meteor impact. Rainforests dominated the early Eocene, and the planet has a warm, tropical climate. It is this age that the mammals begin to thrive and spread, taking over niches left vacant by the death of the dinosaurs. But it is the birds that dominate this period in Earth's history, and they are almost all killers. But in the water, the first evidence of the mammal's destiny has appeared!moreless
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