Walking with Monsters
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|Walking with Monsters -|
Life Before Dinosaurs
|Developed by||Andrew Wilks|
|Narrated by||Kenneth Branagh|
Edward Gero (US)
|Theme music composer||Ben Bartlett|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Executive producer(s)||Tim Haines|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||BBC Natural History Unit|
|Original release||5 November 2005|
|Related shows||Other shows in the Walking with... series|
Walking with Monsters (distributed in North America as Before the Dinosaurs - Walking with Monsters) is a three-part British documentary film series about life in the Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It is a prequel to Walking with Dinosaurs and, as with previous Walking with... instalments, was written and directed by Tim Haines and narrated by Kenneth Branagh. It first aired on BBC Three and BBC One in November and December 2005. At the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2006 it won the Emmy Award in the category Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More).
Drawing on the knowledge of over 600 scientists, the series depicts Paleozoic history, from the Cambrian Period (530 million years ago) to the Early Triassic Period (248 million years ago), and extinct arthropods, fish, amphibians, synapsids, and reptiles.
The series first aired as a single 90-minute instalment on BBC Three, followed by a weekly episodic broadcast on BBC One. The first episode received 4.57 million viewers on BBC One; Viewing figures for the remaining broadcasts did not reach the Top 30 and/or Top 10 Programs. The series has also aired as a two-hour special on the Canadian and American Discovery Channel with an alternate narrator, although Branagh's narration can still sometimes be heard.
Unlike previous series, each period begins with "tech specs" highlighting specific traits of that period (location of fossil finds from that period, oxygen content/global temperature, and hazards) and it also features evolution sequences between periods and looks inside creatures to show new evolutionary traits that humans apparently would later adopt. The major difference is that, similar to Sea Monsters before it, there are only three episodes, each containing two to three segments in time, instead of six full episodes.
|No.||Title||Time||Directed by||Original air date|
|-||"Walking With Monsters"||530-248 mya||Chloe Leland and Tim Haines||5 November 2005|
|Omnibus of all three episodes.|
|1||"Water Dwellers"||530/418/360 mya||Chloe Leland||8 December 2005|
The first episode begins with an illustration of the giant impact hypothesis: approximately 4.4 billion years ago when the Earth was formed, it is conjectured that a planet-like object referred to as Theia collided into the early Earth, dynamically reshaping the Earth and forming the moon. The episode then jumps ahead to the Cambrian Explosion, showing the first diversification of life in the sea. Strange arthropod predators called Anomalocaris feed on trilobites, and fight with each other, whereupon a wounded loser is attacked by a school of Haikouichthys, described as the first vertebrate.
The segment moves on to the Silurian period, where Haikouichthys has evolved into the jawless-fish Cephalaspis. The marine scorpion Brontoscorpio pursues a Cephalaspis but falls victim to the giant eurypterid Pterygotus, whose young feed on the smaller scorpion's body. Later a shoal of Cephalaspis migrate into the shallows to spawn, navigating via memory thanks to their advanced vertebrate brains. As they cross a shallow embankment, they are ambushed by several Brontoscorpio which are depicted as the first animals capable of walking on land. Several fish are killed but the majority slip past the feasting scorpions and arrive at the spawning site. One scorpion misses this feeding opportunity due to having to molt its exoskeleton.
A short sequence depicts Cephalaspis evolving into Hynerpeton, amphibian-like tetrapods, who now hunt their arthropod contemporaries which have shrunk. Though capable of terrestrial movement, Hynerpeton have to remain near water to keep moist and reproduce. A lone male Hynerpeton hunting underwater is threatened by predatory fish, at first by a Stethacanthus which is eaten by a two-ton Hyneria that chases the amphibian out of the water. After seeing off a rival during the night, the male finds a receptive female at dawn and the two mate at the water's edge. They are ambushed by the Hyneria, which beaches herself in the process, but then uses her fins to drag herself ashore and grab the fleeing male. Despite his untimely death, the Hynerpeton eggs were successfully fertilized and sink into the water to develop. A sequence depicts them acquiring hard shells as the first reptiles evolve, but as the offspring leave their nest, those still hatching are left at the mercy of a giant spider, foreshadowing the return of the arthropods.
|2||"Reptile's Beginnings"||300/280 mya||Chloe Leland||15 December 2005|
The second episode shows the swampy coal forests of the Carboniferous. It explains that because of a much higher oxygen content in the atmosphere, giant land arthropods evolved, such as a Megarachne spider, Meganeura; a giant dragonfly the size of a eagle and Arthropleura; a giant relative of modern millipedes and centipedes. A Megarachne hunts down a Petrolacosaurus. She comes back from her hunting expedition only to find her burrow has flooded. Not only that, the Petrolacosaurus she caught is stolen by a Meganeura. On the spider's search for a new burrow, she passes a pond full of Proterogyrinus. Later she is chased by an Arthropleura, which is later killed in a fight with a Proterogyrinus. The Megarachne finally chases a Petrolacosaurus out of its own burrow and moves in. A storm brews and the narrator explains that its high oxygen content makes the atmosphere very combustible, so lightning is a real danger. The Proterogyrinus are seen leaping out of the water to catch Meganeura, which were driven below the tree canopy by the storm. Later, lightning and a forest fire pour in, devastating the life around. Despite no apparent signs of life, a Petrolacosaurus, who managed to outrun the flames, heads into the Megarachne's lair, but emerges with her dead body (her burrow was at the centre of a lightning strike) and begins to feed upon the spider's carcass.
The episode then moves on to the Early Permian, where the swamp-loving trees of the Carboniferous have been replaced with more advanced conifers that are better adapted to survive in a changing climate. Petrolacosaurus and a few other diapsids have evolved into the sub-group of creatures called pelycosaurs like the Edaphosaurus which are now closely related to mammals. They live in herds and have outgrown their arthropod contemporaries in size. A pregnant female Dimetrodon, another pelycosaur, hunts the Edaphosaurus herd, beginning with a mock charge to expose the juveniles. She finally kills a baby Edaphosaurus, but is forced to abandon her kill when the scent of blood attracts others of her kind, all highly-aggressive males. She builds a nest on a hill and is watched by the egg-stealing reptiliomorph, Seymouria. Some time after laying her eggs, another gravid Dimetrodon tries to take over her nest. After a long duel, the original female drives off the intruder, but is badly injured and fatigued in the process. A male Dimetrodon approaches the now unguarded nest, but luckily kills the thieving Seymouria and leaves the eggs unharmed. The eggs hatch and the mother's bond with her offspring is severed. The episode ends with the wounded mother joining other adult Dimetrodon in attacking her own young which race to the trees and hide in dung to escape. At the end the Dimetrodon is seen evolving into an Inostrancevia and the narrator says that the reptiles will evolve to tighten their grip on land, becoming new "specialist reptiles".
|3||"Clash of Titans"||250/248 mya||Tim Haines||19 December 2005|
The third episode is set in the Late Permian, on the supercontinent Pangaea, which was covered by a vast and inhospitable desert. In this arid climate, early therapsids, which are described as more mammal-like than reptile, are shown fighting to survive alongside other animals. The programme starts with an old Scutosaurus, a relative of turtles, being killed by a female Inostrancevia, a type of gorgonopsid which later joins others of her kind at a small waterhole. Other inhabitants of the area include Diictodon, a small burrowing dicynodont. In the pool itself is a starving Rhinesuchus that ambushes the female gorgonopsid in desperation and quickly retreats. A herd of Scutosaurus arrive and eventually drink the waterhole dry. The female gorgonopsid tries to dig out a pair of Diictodon but is unsuccessful. Upon returning to the waterhole, she unearths the Rhinesuchus wrapped in a "cocoon" which it utilized to survive drought. In a torpid state, it is helpless and quickly killed. The gorgonopsid is eventually killed by a sandstorm, foreshadowing the oncoming Permian–Triassic extinction event. The Diictodon meanwhile are able to adapt by digging their burrows deeper, occasionally unearthing plant tubers for sustenance.
Diictodon is seen evolving into the larger Lystrosaurus. The Lystrosaurus multiply into vast herds that must continually migrate in order to find fresh foliage. Also featured is the small insectivorous Euparkeria that is depicted as an ancestor of the dinosaurs. When the Lystrosaurus herd traverses a ravine, one is killed by a pack of venomous Euchambersia, though the herd doesn't show concern for the victim. Encountering a river, the herd enters the water and is attacked by numerous Proterosuchus. Many are killed, but the majority escape and continue their migration. The narrator explains that despite the dominance of Lystrosaurus, eventually the world will recover in full from the Permian-Triassic extinction event and other reptiles will overtake them; the resulting decline in all mammal-like reptiles meaning that mammals are destined to be confined to the shadows as a new group of animals becomes the dominant species on Earth. The episode ends as a Euparkeria is confronted by a Proterosuchus: the Euparkeria suddenly rapidly evolves into an Allosaurus and the scene cuts to the Late Jurassic where it passes two Stegosaurus (in the American version it cuts to both the Jurassic and late Triassic). The Age of Monsters is over. This is the beginning of the Age of Dinosaurs.
- Southern, Nathan (17 January 2006). "Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs (2005)". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
- Weekly top 30 programmes BARB Web. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
- "BBC Three: 2005: November: Sat 5". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
- Episode 1: Walking with Monsters bbc.co.uk. Web. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
- The Animal World (1956, narrated by Theodore von Eltz, directed by Irwin Allen)
- Dinosaurs: The Terrible Lizards (1970, directed by Wah Ming Chang who reedited a new version of this same film in 1986)
- The Great Dinosaur Discovery (one-hour-long original version, 1973, produced by Steve Linton and directed by John Linton, this Brigham Young University documentary follows paleontologist James A. Jensen while he discovers new dinosaur specimens at the Dry Mesa Quarry, in Western Colorado)
- The Great Dinosaur Discovery (24-minute-long educational version, 1976, produced by Steve Linton and directed by John Linton)
- Horizon: The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs (1976, season 13 / episode 2, narrated by Paul Vaughan, written and produced by Robin Brightwell & Robin Bates)
- Dinosaurs: Fun, Fact and Fantasy (1982, with Derek Griffiths as the voice of Dil the Crocodile, directed by Clive Doig)
- Dinosaur! (1985, hosted by Christopher Reeve, directed by Robert Guenette)
- Dinosaurs! – A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time! (1987, narrated by Josette DiCarlo, hosted by Fred Savage, directed by Ray Cioni & Kelli Bixler; claymation footage from the 1980 short film Dinosaur directed by Will Vinton)
- The Infinite Voyage: The Great Dinosaur Hunt (1989, season 2 / episode 2, narrated by Fritz Weaver, directed by Lionel Friedberg)
- The Great Dinosaur Hunt (1991, narrated by Kenneth Welsh, directed by Tom Radford & Andy Thomson; in spite of sharing a similar title, this documentary is completely different than the Infinite Voyage programme: that one was released in 1991 within the GoodTimes Home Video collection of VHS tapes, edited by Radford and Thomson with the same reels obtained during the filming of The Hunt for China's Dinosaurs)
- The Hunt for China's Dinosaurs (1991, narrated by Peter Thomas, directed by Tom Radford & Andy Thomson; this documentary was first aired as a NOVA programme on 5 February 1991, and was edited by Radford and Thomson with the same reels obtained during the filming of The Great Dinosaur Hunt)
- Dinosaur! (1991, four-part miniseries, hosted by Walter Cronkite, directed by Jim Black & Christopher Rowley; in spite of sharing the same title, this four-part miniseries has nothing to do with the TV documentary film that was hosted by Christopher Reeve in 1985)
- The Dinosaurs! (1992, four-part miniseries, narrated by Barbara Feldon, directed by Trudi Brown & Kathi White)
- Dinosaurs: Messages in Stone (1993, hosted by Leslie Nielsen, directed by John Robichaud; this documentary was re-released in 1998 under the title Dinosaur Park)
- Eyewitness: Dinosaur (1994, narrated by Andrew Sachs, produced by Ben Southwell)
- Paleoworld (1994-1997, 4 seasons / 50 episodes, narrated by Ben Gazzara, directed by Greg Francis)
- Dinosaurs: Myths & Reality (1995, hosted by Fred Applegate, directed by Graham Holloway)
- Dinosaur Hunters (1996, written and directed by Kage Glantz credited as Kage Kleiner, narrated by Michael Carroll, a National Geographic documentary about the 1990s AMNH expeditions led in the Gobi Desert by paleontologists Mike Novacek and Mark Norell)
- The Ultimate Guide: Tyrannosaurus rex (1996, narrated by Will Lyman, directed by Jane Armstrong)
- Beyond T-Rex (1997, narrated by Michael McNally, directed by Charles C. Stuart)
- T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (1998, directed by Brett Leonard)
- When Dinosaurs Ruled (1999, six-part miniseries, narrated by Jeff Goldblum, directed by Tony Mitchell)
- Walking with Dinosaurs (1999, six-part miniseries, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, directed by Tim Haines & Jasper James)
- Walking with Beasts (2001, six-part miniseries, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, directed by Jasper James & Nigel Paterson)
- When Dinosaurs Roamed America (2001, narrated by John Goodman, directed by Pierre de Lespinois)
- Valley of the T. rex (2001, narrated by Stephen Kemble, directed by Reuben Aaronson & James McQuillan)
- The Ballad of Big Al (2001, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, produced by Tim Haines & Jasper James)
- Chased by Dinosaurs (2002, hosted by Nigel Marven, directed by Tim Haines & Jasper James)
- Horizon: The Mystery of the Jurassic (2002, narrated by Jack Fortune, written and directed by Jonathan Renouf)
- Walking with Cavemen (2003, four-part miniseries, hosted and narrated by Robert Winston, directed by Richard Dale & Pierre de Lespinois)
- Sea Monsters (2003, three-part miniseries, hosted by Nigel Marven, directed by Jasper James)
- Dinosaur Planet (2003, four-part miniseries, narrated by Christian Slater, hosted by Scott D. Sampson, directed by Pierre de Lespinois)
- Before We Ruled the Earth (2003, two-part miniseries, narrated by Linda Hunt & John Slattery, directed by Pierre de Lespinois)
- Prehistoric Park (2006, six-part miniseries, narrated by David Jason, hosted by Nigel Marven, directed by Sid Bennett, Karen Kelly & Matthew Thompson)
- Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (2007, narrated by Donald Sutherland, directed by Marc Fafard)
- Dinosaurs Alive! (2007, narrated by Michael Douglas, directed by David Clark & Bayley Silleck)
- Jurassic Fight Club (2008, 12-part miniseries, narrated by Erik Thompson, directed by Kreg Lauterbach)
- Clash of the Dinosaurs (2009, four-part miniseries, narrated by Jason Hildebrandt, directed by Nick Green)
- Bizarre Dinosaurs (2009, narrated by Peter Cullen, directed by Jenny Kubo)
- Dinosaurs Decoded (2009, narrated by Michael Carroll, written, produced and directed by Dan Levitt)
- Prehistoric Assassins (2010, two-part miniseries -"Claws and Jaws" & "Blood in the Water"-, narrated by Phil Crowley, written and produced by Sean Dash)
- Prehistoric (2010, four-part miniseries, written and produced by Sven Berkemeier)
- Last Day of the Dinosaurs (2010, narrated by Bill Mondy, directed by Richard Dale, this documentary reuses footage from Clash of the Dinosaurs)
- Land of Dinosaurs (2010, directed by Lee Dong-hui)
- Tyrannosaurus Sex (2010, narrated by Michael Carroll, directed by Gabriel Gornell)
- Dinosaurs, Myths and Monsters (2011, written and hosted by Tom Holland, directed by Jamie Muir)
- Planet Dinosaur (2011, six-part miniseries, narrated by John Hurt, directed by Nigel Paterson)
- Extinct: A Horizon Guide to Dinosaurs (2011, hosted by Dallas Campbell, directed by Penny Palmer, this documentary reuses Horizon footage)
- Dinosaur Revolution (2011, narrated by Rick Robles, directed by David Krentz & Erik Nelson)
- Dinotasia (2012, narrated by Werner Herzog, directed by David Krentz, Erik Nelson and David E. Duncan, Dinotasia utilises used and unused footage from Dinosaur Revolution)
- Adventures of Ceratops (2014, two-part miniseries, directed by Hong Sang-woon, Kim Hwan-gyun & Lee Dong-hui)
- Dinosaur Britain (2015, two-part miniseries, hosted by Ellie Harrison, directed by Gareth Johnson)