Walking with Dinosaurs was a six-part documentary television mini-series that was produced by the BBC, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and first aired in the UK in 1999. The series was subsequently aired in North America on the Discovery Channel in 2000, with Branagh's voice replaced with that of Avery Brooks. It is the first entry of the Walking with... series and used computer-generated imagery and animatronics to recreate the life of the Mesozoic, showing dinosaurs in a way that previously had only been seen in feature films. The program's aim was to simulate the style of a nature documentary and therefore does not include "talking head" interviews. The series used paleontologists such as Peter Dodson, Peter Larson and James Farlow as advisors (their influence in the filming process can be seen in the documentary Walking with Dinosaurs - The Making Of).
Each episode of Walking with Dinosaurs focused on the lives of one or more "protagonists", depicting fictional and speculative events based mainly on inferences and the behavior of modern animals, produced in a style that mimicked traditional wildlife documentaries.
- Filming location: New Caledonia
- Conditions: semi-desert with short rainy season. In the year of the episode, the rains are late.
The episode followed a female Coelophysis as it tried to survive in the dry season. The Coelophysis was shown hunting a herd of Placerias, looking for weak members to prey upon. Early pterosaurs (specifically Peteinosaurus) were also featured, depicted cooling themselves in what little water was present during the drought. A female rauisuchian (Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivores alive at the time of the Triassic) was also shown following the Placerias herd, and kills one of the members. Still searching for food, the Coelophysis are shown discovering a burrow of the small mammal-like cynodont, Unfortunately one youngster strays too close and is eaten, The father cynodont attempts to protect the youngster, but to no avail. At night, the pair of cynodonts are shown eating their remaining young, then moving away. The female Postosuchus is later shown to have been wounded by Placerias's tusks, and is beaten out of its territory by a rival Postosuchus. Wounded, sick and without a territory, the female dies and is eaten by a pack of Coelophysis. Finally, the wet season comes again, and the Coelophysis have survived, along with the cynodont pair. The episode ends with the arrival of a herd of the prosauropod Plateosaurus, foreshadowing the future dominance of giant sauropod dinosaurs as depicted in the second episode.
- Cynodont (identified as Thrinaxodon in the encyclopedia)
- Dragonfly (live acted)
"Time of the Titans"Edit
- Filming locations: Redwood National Park (Fern Canyon), California, Tasmania, New Zealand
- Conditions: warm with mixture of forest and fern-prairies.
This episode followed the life of a young female Diplodocus. After hatching at the forest edge, she and her siblings retreat to the safety of the denser trees. As they grow, they face many dangers, including predation by Ornitholestes and Allosaurus, and a Stegosaurus, which kills one while swinging its tail. When they are close to adulthood, the group of young Diplodocus are nearly all killed by a huge forest fire, which leaves two survivors including the female. They are driven out onto the open plains, where they find a herd. The main female mates, but not long afterwards is attacked by a bull Allosaurus. She is saved when another Diplodocus strikes the Allosaur with its tail.
- at least two kinds of unidentified small ornithopod
- Damselfly (live acted)
- Dung beetle (live acted)
The 3rd episode filmed and broadcast. 149 million years ago — Late Jurassic — Oxfordshire
- Filming locations: Bahamas, New Caledonia
- Conditions: Chain of islands surrounded by shallow seas, periodically subjected to intense tropical storms.
The Ophthalmosaurus breeding ceremony is the main event of the episode, but sharks and other predators, including Liopleurodon are on the hunt. The opening portrays a Liopleurodon snatching a Eustreptospondylus from the land, but there is no evidence of this ever occurring (according to the producers, they were influenced by similar attacks by Killer Whales on land creatures). A pod of Opthalmosaurus arrive from the open ocean to birth. Many of the babies slip out successfully. But when one mother has trouble giving birth, a pair of sharks go after her, but are frightened off by a bull Liopleurodon, which swallows the front half of the Ophthalmosaurus, leaving the remains to sink down. Meanwhile a Eustreptospondylus swims to an island. It discovers a carcass and must fight another Eustreptospondylus for it, though the fight really consists of them roaring at each other. In the end of the episode, a typhoon kills many Rhamphorhynchus, and washes the Liopleurodon ashore and he is then suffocated by his own weight and is eaten by a pair of Eustreptospondylus. The episode however ends on a more positive note, as it shows that the juvenile Ophthalmosaurus have survived the storm, and are now off to live and breed in the open sea - a promise of the next generations to come.
- Hybodus (identified as shark, revealed on website and in encyclopedia)
- Leptolepis (identified as fish, revealed in website, live-acted by herring)
- Perisphinctes (identified as ammonite, revealed in book)
- horseshoe crabs (live acted)
- Jellyfish (live acted)
- Squid (live acted)
- Bark beetle (live acted)
- Unidentified turtle carcass
"Giant of the Skies"Edit
- Filming locations: New Zealand, Tasmania
- Conditions: Sea and coastlands.
The story begins with a male Ornithocheirus dead on a beach. It then goes back 6 months to Brazil, where the Ornithocheirus flies off for Cantabria among a colony of Tapejara. He flies past a migrating column of Iguanodon and a Polacanthus. He reaches the southern tip of North America, where he is forced to shelter from a storm. To pass the time, he grooms himself, ridding his body of Saurophthirus. Then he stets off across the Atlantic, which was then only 300 kilometers wide and, after a whole day on the wing, reaches the westernmost of the European islands. He does not rest here, as a pack of Utahraptor are hunting Iguanodon. He flies to the outskirts of a forest, but is driven away by Iberomesornis. He reaches Cantabria, but was delayed by the storm and cannot reach the center of the many grounded male Ornithocheirus. Consequently, he does not mate and dies from exhaustion under the glaring Sun.
- Unidentified small pterosaur
- Iberomesornis (identified as bird, revealed on website, in book and encyclopedia)
- Pliosaur (identified as Plesiopleurodon on BBC website)
- Saurophthirus (identified as parasite, revealed on website and book)
- Fish (live acted)
- Wasp (live acted)
"Spirits of the Ice Forest"Edit
- Conditions: Forest dominated by podocarps, very near South Pole (the sun did not rise for 5 months in the winter). The lopsided arrangement of the continents keeps ocean currents and strong monsoon winds blowing across the polar area, keeping it free of icecap and warm enough for forests to grow.
- Filming location: New Zealand
This episode focuses upon a clan of Leaellynasaura as they struggle to survive in the south polar region over the course of a year. The small ornithopods are seen building nests, rearing their young, avoiding predators and defending their territory against a rival clan. During the long polar winter, they use their large eyes to forage in perpetual darkness. Other animals featured include migratory herds of Muttaburrasaurus, the giant amphibian Koolasuchus and predatory polar allosaurs, one of which dispatches the matriarch of the Leaellynasaura colony.
- Unidentified allosaur (identified as a polar allosaur)
- Unidentified pterosaurs
- Steropodon (identified as mammal, revealed in website and book, live-acted by a coati)
- Tuatara (live acted)
- Weta (live acted)
- Mosquito (live acted)
"Death of a Dynasty"Edit
The 6th episode filmed and broadcast. 65 million years ago — Late Cretaceous — Montana
- Conditions: Areas of low herbaceous plant cover, and forest, affected by volcanism. The episode shows some effects of volcanic activity
- Filming location: Chile (Conguillío National Park)
This episode starts several months before the extinction of the dinosaurs. The last dinosaurs are depicted living under stress due to excessive volcanism. The episode focuses on a female Tyrannosaurus who abandons her nest, the eggs rendered infertile due to volcanic poisoning. Her calls for a mate are answered by a smaller male whom, after repeated copulation, she eventually drives off. The mother fasts for an extended period as she tends to her nest, dealing with raids by dromaeosaurs and Didelphodons. Only three eggs hatch and the mother brings down an Anatotitan to feed herself and her brood. While defending her two surviving offspring several days later, the mother tyrannosaur is fatally injured by an Ankylosaurus. The chicks remain next to the carcass of their mother until they, and the rest of the non-avian dinosaurs, are killed when a comet slams into the Earth, a catastrophe that triggers the K-T extinction. A short final sequence shows the present-day Earth, dominated by large mammals, but still populated with numerous dinosaurs known as birds.
- Dromaeosaurus (identified as dromaeosaur)
- Unidentified small ornithopods
- Deinosuchus (identified as crocodile)
- Dinilysia (identified as snake, live acted by a red-tailed boa)
- butterfly (live acted)
- Triceratops carcass
- Unidentified theropod carcass
- Unidentified mammal carcass
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