|Land of Giants (Walking with Beasts)|
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Next of Kin
Land of Giants is the third episode of the Walking with Beasts series. It continues where Whale Killer had ended, further showing some of Cenozoic's mammalian mega-fauna. It is set at the end of the Oligocene - the start of the Miocene, in Mongolia.
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Indricotherium, the star of this episode, was one of the mega-mammals that involved during the Paleogene, and perhaps the biggest mammal to have ever lived on land. It occupied a niche similar to that of the sauropod dinosaurs of the Mesozoic, (see Time of the Titans), but there were several key differences between the two. The sauropods, just like other dinosaurs, laid clutches of several eggs at once and didn't care for their young; megamammals usually give birth to just one or two offspring and care for them for several years. (Indricotherium females cared for their calves for 3 years, for example.) Only after the young from the previous litter left (or were driven off) the females would come into heat again. This made the megafauna population stable, but relatively small, and vulnerable to such effects as climate change: when the climate began to cool even further during the Neogene, most of Miocene's megafauna died-out.
It also should be noted that the Oligocene/Miocene mammals, while more advanced than their predecessors (featured in New Dawn and Whale Killer), still had relatively simple brains and didn't adapt to change very well. (Entelodonts had brains no bigger than oranges, for example). As a result, this made them more absolete when the more advanced mammals appeared on the scene by the end of Miocene (like the bear-dogs.)
Hyaenodon, the entelodonts and Chalicotherium are more examples of megafauna of Miocene. Though they are smaller than Indricotherium was, they were still larger than many of the modern mammals, had smaller brains and more primitive behavior than them, and in case of Chalicotherium and other knuckle-walking chalicotheres - bizarre feeding adaptations, better suited to the more lush and tropical ecology of Paleogene than the harsher world of Neogene. Most of them died out by Pliocene, but some, like Ancylotherium from the next episode of the series, survived.
Cynodictis was a bear-dog, but unlike many of its relatives, it was quite small. Bear-dogs (or amphicyonids) are considered to be relatives of both modern bears and dogs, but were also in their own family of carnivorans. In this episode, Cynodictis was a clear contrast to Indricotherium and other megafauna as it was quite small in size (other bear-dogs were much larger, bigger than Hyaenodon and Daodon), but had a more advanced behavior, and as a member of the modern carnivorans (it was not a Creodont as Hyaenodon was), it was a representative of smaller and more modern mammals featured in the next episodes of the series.