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The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs
New Blood - broadcast in North America as Dawn of the Dinosaurs - is the first episode of Walking with Dinosaurs thus being the first episode in the Walking With... series.
This episode follows life in the late Triassic period in Arizona. It features Coelophysis, one of the first in the lineage of the dinosaurs, a pair of Thrinaxodon and their desperate struggles to stay alive and to raise a family and a female Postosuchus, a fierce predator designed only for killing. The episode concentrates on the harsh conditions Triassic life is put through and the end of the episode emphasizes that the age of the dinosaurs has begun.
The episode begins in the present day and instantly goes back in time 65 million years to the late Cretaceous period, a time when the Himalayas did not exist and the Atlantic Ocean is only half as wide. This is a time ruled by dinosaurs. The beginning of the episode shows footage of future episodes. After traveling back further in time to the late Jurassic period, we reach 220 million years ago in the late Triassic. A herd of dehydrated Placerias is seen traveling through a desolate desert during a drought. We then see two Coelophysis running through the desert together. These were some of the first dinosaurs which were destined to become a immensely successful group of animals.
We are in Arizona, 220 million years ago. A lone Placerias is seen feeding on the vegetation on the floor. \ The narrator says that there is a grim evolutionary battle between the ancient reptiles that had been ruling millions of years before and a new type of reptiles - the dinosaurs. A female Coelophysis is seen looking for food at a river. She finds a lungfish and swiftly kills it. However, before she can finish her meal, a calling Placerias scares her off.
A large herd of Placerias is seen making their way from the scrubland to the river for their morning drink. While most of them drink, two males are seen fighting using their pair of tusks protruding from their skull. A female Coelophysis watches the herd pass by, waiting for the old and sick individuals to lose the herd. The female encounters a sick and old Placerias but the Coelophysis' presence was not tolerated. Further down the river a cynodont is seen scavenging on an animal shell. He then runs back to his burrow. There he finds his mate sleeping within the burrow. She wakes up and welcomes him. Their young is seen suckling their mother for milk, like all mammals do today. While the mother sleeps, the father carries out domestic chores like cleaning out the burrow.
In the heat of the dry season, the Placerias herd spreads out over the scrubland to feed. However, the scent of fear is in the air and the Placerias herd become spooked and start acting aggressive. What has spooked the herd is a Postosuchus which has attacked a member of the herd. The incredibly slow Placerias flee from the Postosuchus however one has trouble keeping up to being inflicted with a mortal wound. A combination of shock and blood loss brings down the injured Placerias. The carnivore then comes in and feasts on the corpse.
As weeks into the dry season pass, only the vegetation around the river remains lush. This attracts exotic hunters from far and wide. A Peteinosaurus is seen drinking from a river. A swarm of dragonflies is seen flying above the river. A Peteinosaurus flies up and kills one. A whole flock of Peteinosaurus is then seen hunting dragonflies. The previous hunters have become the hunted. Further down the river, the herd of Placerias is seen bathing in the river. As the temperature has hit 40 C, the Placerias are spending more time at the river. However, they are weary as there is a likely chance of an ambush. A female Postosuchus is seen coming to the river to drink, not hunt.
In the middle of the dry season, a Peteinosaurus is seen risking a bath in a small puddle. As he washes, he constantly looks out for danger. We then see the cynodont pair sleeping in their cool burrow. However, outside, two Coelophysis investigate the burrow but it is apparent that they have never met cynodonts before. The male scares the inquisitive pair off and returns to the burrow.
Nearby, the Placerias herd is seen digging for underground roots. However, nearby is the female Postosuchus once again looking for food. However, a previous hunt has left her with a tusk wound on her leg - a severe handicap for such a heavily built predator. The herd of Placerias spots her before she can prepare an ambush and mount an aggressive display. The Postosuchus then leaves hungry. We then see the cynodont pair preparing for a night of hunting. Their young have become more developed and journey around the burrow by themselves. The father leaves to hunt. One of the youngsters follows him to the end of the burrow. However, the female Coelophysis reappears, kills, and eats the youngster. The father arrives too late.
A male Postosuchus is seen drinking from a stream. He has invaded the injured female's territory. The female arrives and shouts at the male. However, the female is too weak to fight and retreats, leaving the male victorious. The male then urinates to mark her territory as his own.
The Coelophysis pair is seen once again at the cynodont burrow digging it up. The cynodont pair is becoming desperate. The pair has only one choice. During the night, the pair sever the bond between them and their offspring and eat them, denying the Coelophysis their food and giving themselves a chance to escape. They seize the opportunity and make a run for it. In the morning, the Coelophysis return to the burrow. They can still smell the cynodonts but it will take them some time to realize that their work is in vain.
As the dry season continues, the female Coelophysis is seen digging. She finds a lungfish buried underneath the soil in a cocoon. Before she can eat it, several other Coelophysis confront her and challenge her for the lungfish. The group screeches at each other and one of them wins the lungfish. However, the change in climate has also changed their behavior. A large flock of Coelophysis has united to bring down a kill - the female Postosuchus. She has lost the use of her hind legs but her jaws can still tear a dinosaur in half. The flock is weary but eventually the Postosuchus goes down and dies. The flock then starts feeding on her corpse, from the inside out.
The wet season has arrived late and the real struggle to survive begins. The Placerias herd is forced to migrate in search of water while the Coelophysis stay together by the shrunken river. With little food available, the Coelophysis have become cannibalistic. The flock then moves on in search of more food and water. The Triassic is pushing life to its limits.
The cynodonts have survived their brush with death. The male is seen hunting during the night. He manages to kill a young Coelophysis. He then returns to his burrow.
After nine months of drought, the rains have finally arrived. The shrublands have once again become lush and all life has returned to the area. Inside their new burrow, the cynodont pair have laid a new clutch of eggs. Outside, the female Coelophysis is seen drinking from a waterfall. However, she and the rest of the flock is being joined by a new type of dinosaur. A large herd of Plateosaurus has been driven to the swollen river in search of food. The Coelophysis are warded off by the lead member of the herd. The age of the dinosaurs has begun.
In the initial US broadcast, the scene where the Thrinaxodon pair devours their offspring was cut. However, the DVD and VHS release includes the UK broadcast version, so the omitted scene was restored.
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