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Walking with Dinosaurs

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Walking with Dinosaurs
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Series information
Episodes New Blood
Time of the Titans
Cruel Sea
Giant of the Skies
Spirits of the Ice Forest
Death of a Dynasty
Narrator Kenneth Branagh (BBC version)
Avery Brooks (Discovery version)
Ben Stiller (Prehistoric Planet)
Executive producer(s) John Lynch
Producer(s) Tim Haines
Jasper James
Broadcast information
Original channel BBC One
Original run 16 April 1999 - 21 May 1999
Chronology
Preceded by:
Walking with Dinosaurs pilot
Followed by:
Walking with Beasts

Walking with Dinosaurs is a six-part dinosaur television documentary mini-series that was produced by the BBC, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and first aired in the United Kingdom in 1999. The series was subsequently aired in the United States on the Discovery Channel with Branagh's narration replaced with that of Avery Brooks. The series uses computer-generated imagery and animatronics to recreate the reign of the dinosaurs, beginning in the late Triassic period and concluding in the late Cretaceous period at the K-T boundary mass extinction event, 66 million years ago.

The Guinness Book of World Records reported that Walking with Dinosaurs was the most expensive documentary series per minute ever made. 

Blurb

Imagine you could witness a prehistoric sunset - imagine you are watching insectivorous pterosaurs chase moths in the moist evening air and bull Triceratops lock horns over a young female. This is no longer a dream.

Walking with Dinosaurs makes that distant world as real and natural as images from today's Serengeti. Tracing the 160 million-year history of dinosaurs, from their first appearances to their abrupt demise, this series marks a watershed in television imagery.

Classic natural history techniques, leading edge computer technology and animatronics combined with the latest scientific findings, recreate the sights and sounds of an endlessly fascinating era. Walking with Dinosaurs brings to life the mystery and excitement of the age when these reptiles roamed our planet.

Episodes

Image Episode title Episode number Original airdate
NewBlood New Blood 1 16 April 1999
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.
TimeOfTheTitans Time of the Titans 2 23 April 1999
This episode follows the diverse Jurassic megafauna in North America. The episode mainly concentrates on the lives of a adolescent female Diplodocus and her constant fight for survival against predators and even her own habitat after hatching. The episode also follows an adult herd of Diplodocus and their ceaseless search for food. This episode showcases some of the other late Jurassic fauna including the armored and dim-witted Stegosaurus, the egg-thieving Ornitholestes, and the lions of the Jurassic, Allosaurus.
CruelSea Cruel Sea 3 30 April 1999
This episode, like the previous episode, focuses on life in the late Jurassic period in Oxfordshire. The episode follows several Ophthalmosaurus pups and their fight against the elements. The episode also follows a male Liopleurodon, the largest carnivore ever. There are a few scenes concentrating on the small population of carnivorous dinosaurs in the region and how they are able to survive on such small areas. The episodes concentrates on the environment the inhabitants of late Jurassic Oxfordshire live in. Like the previous episodes, this episode emphasizes the Jurassic megafauna and their success.
GiantOfTheSkies Giant of the Skies 4 7 May 1999
This episode follows the lesser known yet prominent group of reptiles that dominated the skies during the Mesozoic era, the pterosaurs. The episode concentrates on an old male Ornithocheirus and his epic journey to the mating grounds. During his journey, the episode showcases some of the animals he flies past. These animals include Iguanodon, a large hadrosaurid, Utahraptor, a ferocious assassin and Iberomesornis, an ancient type of bird. At the end of the episodes, the narrator refers that breeding doesn't just bring new life, it can also bring death.
SpiritsOfTheIceForest Spirits of the Ice Forest 5 14 May 1999
This episode is set in Antarctica during the middle Cretaceous period. The episode focuses on how dinosaurs survive in the harsh and cold conditions that are thrown at them. The episode follows a colony of Leaellynasaura and shows how they live, procreate and how they survive from predators and the pitch-black winters that occur annually. The episode also depicts how the Leaellynasaura social hierarchy functions. The episodes also showcases some of the other Antarctic lifeforms like the large Muttaburrasaurus, the relative of Allosaurus, Australovenator and Koolasuchus, a giant, primeval amphibian.
DeathOfADynasty Death of a Dynasty 6 21 May 1999
This episode is set in the late Cretaceous, 65.5 million years ago in Montana. This episode focuses on the last in the lineage of dinosaurs and the K-T boundary mass extinction event. This episode follows a female Tyrannosaurus rex trying to reproduce but the toxic environment takes its toll on her offspring. After mating, the episode focuses on her struggle to protect her nest from egg thieves like Didelphodon. Shortly after her chicks hatch, the 10 mile comet slams into Earth and marks the end of the reign of the dinosaurs. The epilogue of the series notes that dinosaurs aren't exactly extinct and that birds are their descendants.

Specials

Image Special title Special number Original airdate
The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs 1 6 October 1999
Title of Big Al The Ballad of Big Al 2 25 December 2000
Big Al The Science Big Al Uncovered 3 27 December 2000

Gallery

Video

Companion book

See also: Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History

A companion book written by Tim Haines was published in 1999 to coincide with the series.  Like there are six episodes in the documentary, there are six chapters in the book however, there are some notable differences.  Some of the locations were changed in the book (e.g. New Blood is set in Ghost Ranch in the book rather than Arizona in the documentary).  The book also elaborates on the background of each story and the book goes more in depth into the science on which the series is based on.  The book also includes descriptions on the creatures that were featured in the series but were not identified and even creatures that were not included in the series.

Arena Spectacular

A live theatrical adaptation was created in Australia and began touring in early 2007 (starting in Sydney's Acer Arena, and continuing to Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide & Melbourne). Coming from the mind of William May, the show features life-size mechanical dinosaurs operated by teams of puppeteers and drivers as well as music by James Brett.

It was produced by Malcolm C. Cooke & Jill Bryant and directed by Scott Faris. The leading role of the paleontologist (Huxley) was played by both Bruce Spence and Felix Nobis in the original Australian version. The role of Huxley is currently played by James Roberts & Jonathan Bliss.

Featured creatures

Film adaptation

See also: Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie

Walking with Dinosaurs is a family film produced by BBC Earth that was released in theaters on December 20, 2013.

Scientific inaccuracies

One of the main criticisms about Walking with Dinosaurs is the amount of scientific errors it includes.

  • There is no evidence that Coelophysis was a cannibal.  It has been recently found that the animals found within one of the Coelophysis specimens was in fact a small crocodilian.
  • Plateosaurus' forelimbs were not designed to be used of walking but as this discovery was uncovered after Walking with Dinosaurs aired, this error is excusable.
  • Diplodocus could never reach maturity in only a decade. The minimum amount of time for Diplodocus to reach maturity is roughly forty years.
  • Ornitholestes lacked a nasal crest.
  • Liopleurodon never grew up to 25 meters in length nor weighed 150 tonnes. The largest species of Liopleurodon, L. ferox had a maximum length of 6 to 7 meters and had a maximum weight of two tonnes.
  • Anatotitan/Edmontosaurus lacked a head crest (though this was proven only in 2013).

Censorship

In the initial U.S. broadcasts of the series, a few scenes were omitted from some of the episodes. The most notable deletions were a shot of the Thrinaxodon pair devouring their offspring, and a scene where a dead-in-shell Tyrannosaurus embryo is preyed upon by a pair of Didelphodon. The DVD and VHS contains the original UK broadcast, so the omitted scenes were restored.

Critical reaction

In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted on by industry professionals, Walking with Dinosaurs was placed 72nd.

The series won three Emmy Awards, including Best Animated Program (For More Than One Hour).

Related Media

Prehistoric Planet

In 2001, a series called Prehistoric Planet was created.

It was an edited version of the series narrated by Ben Stiller targeted to younger audiences, and it aired on the Discovery Kids channel. Though all episodes of season 2, except for the finale, used footage from Walking with Beasts.

Andy's Dinosaur Adventures

Andy's Dinosaur Adventures is an educational television series targeted towards young children which aired on CBeebies. The series often uses scenes from Walking with Dinosaurs and its specials to depict the dinosaurs mentioned in the programme.

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