Wild New World

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Wild New World
Prehistoric America title card
Series title card from US broadcast
Also known as'Prehistoric America
野性新世界 (Chinese)
GenreNature documentary
Narrated byJack Fortune
Composer(s)Barnaby Taylor
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes6
Executive producer(s)Neil Nightingale
Producer(s)Miles Barton
Running time50 minutes
Production company(s)BBC Natural History Unit
Discovery Channel
Original networkBBC Two
Picture format576i (16:9)
Audio formatStereophonic
Original release3 October (2002-10-03) –
7 November 2002 (2002-11-07)
Preceded byWild Africa
Followed byWild Down Under
External links
[Official website Website]

Wild New World (also known as Prehistoric America) is a six-part BBC documentary series about Ice Age America that describes the prehistory, landscape and wildlife of the continent from the arrival of humans to the end of the Ice Age. It was first transmitted in the UK on BBC Two from 3 October to 7 November 2002. Like several other BBC programmes, it contains both computer graphics and real-life animals. Occasionally, footage of non-American counterparts of the extinct North American beasts (like the American lion and the American cheetah) are used in juxtaposition with footage of native American animals, like the pronghorn.

Wild New World was co-produced by the BBC Natural History Unit and Discovery Channel. The music was composed by Barnaby Taylor and performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. The series was narrated by Jack Fortune and produced by Miles Barton.

The series forms part of the Natural History Unit's Continents strand. It was preceded by Wild Africa in 2001 and followed by Wild Down Under in 2003.


The series was announced by the BBC with the working title All American Animals,[1][2] but it was later changed to Wild New World.


All episode names were given from BBC website. All broadcast dates refer to the original UK transmission.

Each of the episode consists with the prehistory and wildlife of a particular region in the United States, except for final episode which is about various modern American animals.

Episode Title Original air date
1"Land of the Mammoth"3 October 2002 (2002-10-03)[3]

14,000 years ago, Beringia
Filming location: Alaska, Yukon (Canada)

Preserved in the frozen soil of Alaska are clues to an unknown land, where muskoxen and wild horses roarmed alongside woolly mammoths. Enormous American lions harried the families of mammoths, formidable in the defence of their young. The lion were more successful at hunting at bison in the snow but they were no match for the giant short-faced bear.

2"Canyonlands"10 October 2002 (2002-10-10)[4]

13,000 years ago
Filming location: Nevada , Grand Canyon (Southwest USA)

The first people to experience the splendours of the Grand Canyon would have seen a much greener, richer land. Today it is cougar country but then bizarre ground sloths sheltered in the caves and browsed in the canyons alongside Columbian mammoths. Camels were on the menu for both the first people and the impressive sabre-tooth cat (Smilodon).

3"Ice Age Oasis"17 October 2002 (2002-10-17)[5]

13,000 years ago
Filming location: Florida (Southeast USA)

America's Deep South is today a haven for the manatees, alligators and waterbirds which abound in its clear, turquoise springs. But when the Ice Age gripped much of the continent, the south was a warm paradise for the earliest human hunters as well as warmth loving wildlife. Tapirs and capybaras grazed in the swamps, dwarfed by the giant ground sloths which towered above them. Sabre-tooth cats came to face to face with skunks and jaguars stalked armoured glyptodons (Glyptotherium).

4"Edge of the Ice"24 October 2002 (2002-10-24)[6]

13,000 years ago
Filming location: Washington, Oregon (Northwest USA)

The towering rainforests of the Northwest have a timeless quality, yet when the first humans reached this coast, they witnessed a very different landscape. Open woodlands and Arctic tundra were home to caribou and strange elephant-like mastodons - all potential prey for the scimitar-toothed cat (Homotherium).

5"American Serengeti"31 October 2002 (2002-10-31)[7]

13,000 years ago
Filming location: Colorado (Midlands)

The vast seas of grass on the Great Plains are home to bison, coyotes and prairie dogs today. But previously the area was an American Serengeti, populated by Columbian mammoths (the largest of all mammoths). Here cheetah hunted pronghorn antelope and lions stalked horses and bison. But the most impressive of all the carnivores was the giant short-faced bear.

6"Mammoths to Manhattan"7 November 2002 (2002-11-07)[8]

14,000 years ago until present
Filming location: Manhattan

The final episode shows how the megafauna become extinct, and about how modern animals living on the continent have adapted to the increasing human population and development in North America.

The meeting between human and megafauna in North America was a deadly one - most of the large land animals, including all the mammoths and mastodons, horses, camels, giant ground sloths, short-faced bear, and all the big cats (except the cougar) disappeared and the landscape changed dramatically. But some animals learned to flourish in human's environment. Today chimney swifts roost in the towering smokestacks of Portland, kit foxes den in Los Angeles suburbs, moose trample the gardens of Anchorage and red tailed hawks nest in Manhattan.


The show's episodes offer several common themes, the main one being the coming of humans to America via the Ice Age's land bridge and causing the extinction of the North American megafauna featured in the episodes. Another BBC programme, Monsters We Met picks up and elaborates on this topic in greater detail. A more recent Discovery show, Prehistoric (2009/10 show), also features scenic elements of Prehistoric America, such as the present melting away to reveal the past, as well as creatures already shown by the show, like the American mastodon, Arctodus and Columbian mammoth.



In United States and Canada, a two-disc DVD format was released under the title "Prehistoric America" on 7 September 2004 by BBC Warner.[9] The series was included with two additional programmes:

  • Grand Canyon - From Dinosaurs to Dams Everglades
  • To Hell and Back Other: Fact Files Documentary

A three-disc DVD format was released in China for Region 6 on 12 June 2008 by Excel Media.[10]


In United Kingdom, an accompanying hardcover format was written by Miles Barton, Nigel Bean, Stephen Dunleavy, Ian Gray and Adam White, with foreword by D. Bruce Means. It was released on 19 September 2002 and published by BBC Worldwide.[11] (ISBN 0-563-53425-7)

The companion volume for the US market, Prehistoric America: A Journey through the Ice Age and Beyond, was published by the Yale University Press on 8 February 2003.[12](ISBN 0-300-09819-7)

See also[edit]


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