- This page is about the 1999 TV series. For the upcoming 2013 movie of the same name, see Walking With Dinosaurs 3D.
Walking with Dinosaurs was a six-part television series produced by the BBC, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and first aired in the United Kingdom in 1999. The series was subsequently aired in North America on the Discovery Channel, with Branagh's voice replaced with that of Avery Brooks. The series 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).The Guinness Book of World Records reported that the series was the most expensive documentary series per minute ever made.
A pilot was developed by the team to convince the broadcasters and funders to help fund and air the show. The pilot was set in the Jurassic and featured Rhamphorynchus, Eustreptospondylus, Cetiosaurus and Liopleurodon.
|New Blood||1||220 mya||Tim Haines and Jasper James||16 April, 1999|
|The episode follows a family of Cynodonts (although some sources say Coelophysis is the main focus) as they try to defend their home from predators especially the dinosaur Coelophysis. A female Coelophysis is shown stalking a herd of dicynodonts called Placerias (a giant synapsid or mammal-like reptile), looking for weak members to prey upon. A male cynodont is shown downstream, returning to his burrow from the river. The last focus of the episode is a female rauisuchian Postosuchus (one of the largest carnivores alive in the Triassic) is shown attacking a Placerias herd, and bites one of the members, driving the rest of the herd to retreat and leave the wounded and weakened member of the group to the carnivore. Early pterosaurs called Peteinosaurus are depicted feeding on dragonflies and cooling themselves in what little water is present during the drought. Still searching for food, the Coelophysis are shown discovering the cynodont burrow (and are initially frightened away by the emerging male). Eventually, an inquisitive cynodont pup follows the father to the entrance and is eaten before he can drive the predators away. At night, the pair of cynodonts are shown eating their remaining young, then moving away, while during the day, the Coelophysis work to expose the nest. The female Postosuchus is later shown to have been wounded by the tusks (the wound is on her left thigh) of one of the dicynodonts, and after being unable to successfully hunt another member of the Placerias herd she is beaten out of her territory by a rival male Postosuchus. Wounded, sick and without a territory, the female dies and is eaten by a pack of Coelophysis. As the dry season continues however, food becomes scarce and extreme measures are taken by all animals. The Placerias herd embarks on a trek through parched wasteland in search of water, while the Coelophysis meanwhile start killing and cannibalising their young. The cynodont also resorts to hunting baby Coelophysis during the night. Finally, the wet season comes, and the majority of the Coelophysis have survived (including the female), along with the cynodont pair, who have a new clutch of eggs. The episode ends with the arrival of a migrating herd of the prosauropod Plateosaurus, foreshadowing the future dominance of the giant sauropods after the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event.|
|Time of the Titans||2||152 mya||Tim Haines and Jasper James||23 April, 1999|
|This episode follows the life of a young female herbivorous sauropod Diplodocus beginning at the moment when her mother lays a clutch of eggs at the edge of a conifer forest. Months later, some of the eggs hatch and the young sauropods are preyed upon by Ornitholestes. After hatching, the young female and her siblings retreat to the safety of the denser trees. As they grow, they face many dangers, including repeated predation by Ornitholestes and Allosaurus. Even the herbivorous Stegosaurus accidentally kills one of her siblings while swinging its tail. In parallel, adult herds of Diplodocus are depicted as titanic eating machines that use their massive weight to topple trees in order to get at the leaves of cycads in between trunks. The Diplodocus are also shown to host their own small mobile habitats that include damselflies, Anurognathus and dung beetles. Close to adulthood, the creche of five-year old Diplodocus grow to 13 meters and are nearly all killed by a huge forest fire (made worse by a firestorm in the night). In the end only three, then two, survivors including the female make it onto the open plains, where they find a herd and safety. Years later, the protagonist female mates, but not long afterwards is attacked by a bull Allosaurus. She is saved when another Diplodocus strikes the allosaur with its tail and she rejoins the herd with deep (yet minor) wounds on her side. In the end it is commented that her kind will only get bigger and that when the sauropods die out, life will never again be this large. In the DVD release, most of the narration from the original broadcast is missing.|
|Cruel Sea||3||149 mya||Tim Haines and Jasper James||30 April, 1999|
|The episode begins with a Eustreptospondylus being snatched from the shore by the pliosaur Liopleurodon. Meanwhile, the ichthyosaur Ophthalmosaurus live-breeding ceremony is the main event taking place, as hundreds of Ophthalmosaurus arrive from the open ocean to give birth. In the midst of the birthing sharks and other predators, including Liopleurodon, are on the hunt, and when one mother has trouble giving birth, a pair of Hybodus sharks go after her, but are frightened off by a male Liopleurodon, which eats the front half of the Ophthalmosaurus, leaving the tail to sink down. Meanwhile a Eustreptospondylus swims to an island and discovers a turtle carcass that it must contend for with another Eustreptospondylus. Later during the night, a group of horseshoe crabs gather at the shore to lay their eggs, which attracts a flock of Rhamphorhynchus in the morning to eat the eggs. However two or three of the pterosaurs are caught and eaten by a Eustreptospondylus. While the Ophthalmosaurus juveniles are growing up, they are still hunted by Hybodus, which in turn, are prey for the Liopleurodon. At one point, while the male Liopleurodon is hunting for prey, he is encountered by a female Liopleurodon. After biting one of her flippers, she retires from his territory, followed by several Hybodus catching her trail of blood. A typhoon then strikes the islands, and kills many animals, including several Rhamphorhynchus. The Liopleurodon is washed ashore and lays upon the beach, eventually suffocating under his own weight. The carcass then becomes the banquet of a group of hovering Eustreptospondylus. At the end of the episode, the juvenile Ophthalmosaurus that survived the storm are now large enough to swim off to live and breed in the open sea.|
|Giant of the Skies||4||127 mya||Tim Haines and Jasper James||7 May, 1999|
|The story begins with a male Ornithocheirus dead on a beach. It then goes back six months to Brazil, where the Ornithocheirus, resting among a colony of breeding Tapejara flies off for Cantabria where he too must mate. He flies past a migrating column of iguanodonts Dakotadon and a Polacanthus (all herbivorous dinosaurs). He reaches the southern tip of North America, where he is forced to shelter from a storm. To pass the time, he grooms himself, expelling his body of Saurophthirus fleas while his snout begins to show color changes. He then sets off across the Atlantic (which was then only 300 kilometres wide) and after a whole day on the wing, reaches the westernmost of the European islands. He does not rest there however, as a pack of Utahraptors are hunting Iguanodon. He flies to the outskirts of a forest to rest, but is driven away by Iberomesornis birds. Flying on, he reaches Cantabria, but due to the delays and his exhaustion he cannot reach the centre of the many grounded male Ornithocheirus and consequently he does not mate. After days under the sun trying to attract a mate, and worn out by his travels and advanced age, the Ornithocheirus dies from heat exhaustion and starvation, as do others who also lost out in the reproductive struggle. Nature however is seldom wasteful, their corpses are left as food for young Ornithocheirus.|
|Spirits of the Ice Forest||5||106 mya||Tim Haines and Jasper James||14 May, 1999|
|A few hundred kilometres from the South Pole, a clan of herbivorous Leaellynasaura are seen emerging to activity after months of total darkness. Now with the coming of spring, the members of the clan are shown feeding on the fresh plant growth and building nests so they can lay their eggs. A male amphibian Koolasuchus has also woken up from hibernation and heads to a river where he will stay during the summer. Out on the rocky river banks, migrating herds of herbivorous Muttaburrasaurus have arrived to feed on the fresh vegetation and lay their eggs. By summer, many of the Leaellynasaura clan's eggs have been eaten, but those of the matriarch hatch successfully. A male polar allosaur is shown hunting the Leaellynasaura and Muttaburrasaurus. The Leaellynasaura clan continues to prepare for the winter, as well as raising the young that have now grown. When autumn arrives, the Muttaburrasaurus herd begins head back north, and the Koolasuchus leaves the river to find a pool in the forest to hibernate through the winter. However, during the migration some Muttaburrasaurus become lost in the forest and create a ruckus in the process of trying to get back to the herd. In the confusion, an allosaur manages to catch and kill the matriarch of the clan, while only one of the hatchlings survives the year. After the last day passes in a matter of minutes, winter descends, and the forest becomes almost completely darkened. The Leaellynasaura clan is able to stay active, using their large eyes to help them forage for food. During this time, the clan and other fauna use various methods of dealing with the cold, including suspended animation, hibernation or using group body temperature to maintain heat. Finally, spring returns, and two Leaellynasaura males challenge one another for the right to mate, and after a short confrontation, the clan establishes a dominant pair once again. In the end it is accepted that the shifting of the continents will soon pull the landmass closer to the South Pole, and that the forests, and all these dinosaurs will soon disappear.|
|Death of a Dynasty||6||65.5 mya||Tim Haines and Jasper James||21 May, 1999|
|This episode starts months before the extinction of the dinosaurs. The last dinosaurs are depicted living under intense environmental stress due to excessive volcanism. Many of the dinosaur and pterosaur species still in existence are the largest and most developed of their respective generas, including Ankylosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex. The story 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 who kills a young Triceratops to appease her. Later, after repeated copulation, she eventually drives him off. The mother fasts for an extended period as she tends to her nest, dealing with raids by Dromaeosaurus and marsupial Didelphodons. As the female tends to her vigil, herds of the hadrosaur Edmontosaurus (identified as Anatotitan) wander from islands of vegetation among fields of volcanic ash, while Torosaurus males rut for the right to mate and lose their young to attacking pairs and packs of Dromaeosaurus. Meanwhile, the mother Tyrannosaurus sees only three of her twelve eggs hatch and 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 who swings its clubbed tail at her right side; the blow cracks her femur and ruptures internal organs. The chicks remain next to the carcass of their mother the next morning until they, and the rest of the non-avian dinosaurs in this region, are killed when an asteroid slams into the Earth, a catastrophe that triggers the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. A short final sequence shows the present-day Earth, dominated by large mammals, but still populated with numerous forms of dinosaurs: the birds.|
A companion book was written by Tim Haines to accompany the first screening of the series in 1999. The settings of some of the six episodes were changed between the time the book was written and the screening of the television series, and some of their names were changed: 'New Blood' is set at Ghost Ranch; 'Cruel Sea' is set at or near Solnhofen in Germany near what then were the Vindelicisch Islands . The book elaborated on the background for each story, went further in explaining the science on which much of the program as based, and included descriptions of several animals not identified or featured in the series. (see animal lists above)
Deviations from the series
- At the end of the episode "New Blood", a Plateosaurus frightens away a Coelophysis. In the book, a Postosuchus attacks the herd and loses. Near the end of the episode, the Coelophysis gather around a waterhole. In the book, this happens earlier. In the book, the first thing to happen is the Postosuchus attack.
- In the episode "Time of the Titans", the female Diplodocus lifespan shown was: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years. In the book, it was: 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 12 years, so the Diplodocus age faster in the book. In the series, the Allosaurus attack occurs on the 3rd year. In the book, it occurs on the 4th year. The Stegosaurus kills nothing in the book.
- In the book, the Liopleurodon attack from "Cruel Sea" occurs much later, the Cryptoclidus catches a Ramforyncus rather than a fish, and the female Liopleurodon does not appear.
- Unlike in the episode "Giant of the Skies", Ornithocheirus cannibalism doesn't occur in the book. In the series, the lead female Utahraptor attacks the Iguanodon with no injury, whereas in the book, she is injured by the thumb spike; also, the book describes the Utahraptor attack as an attack by a large group, not just a family. Additionally, in the series the Tapejara ignore the Ornithocheirus, while the book, they try to drive it off, and later on, where in the program Ornithocheirus is driven off by the Utahraptor hunting, in the book it is driven off by turtles inhabiting lake, absent from the program.
- In the book's chapter "Beneath a Giant's Wings" ("Giant of the Skies" episode) the flowering shrub's name is Protoanthus (a fictional plant), while on the show it was unnamed.
- In the episode "Spirits of the Ice Forest", the lead female Leaellynasaura is killed by the allosaur, while in the book, she dies of frostbite (in the book, the allosaur ate a subadult male), and is eaten by Koolasuchus at the end of the chapter, instead of the beginning, as in the program. In the book, all the Leaellynasaura chicks survive, and the Muttaburrasaurus don't get lost.
- Dromaeosaurus and ornithopods are not featured in the book, unlike in the episode "Death of a Dynasty." The Quetzalcoatlus gets eaten by a group of Deinosuchus in the book after a futile struggle, while the television program features only one Deinosuchus and the Quetzalcoatlus escapes without fighting back at all. In the show, Didelphodon is eaten by the female Tyrannosaurus; in the book, by a male, who eats the eggs itself. Also, in the program, the male Tyrannosaurus presents the female with a dead Triceratops, while in the book it is a Torosaurus - the same one that was seen on the program with the broken horn. Finally, in the program the Ankylosaurus hits the female Tyrannosaurus just once, while in the book, it beats the female to death; also, in the book, the Ankylosaurus is a female with a pair of "scutlings" as well, unlike the program.
Michael J. Benton, a consultant to the making of the series (and Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at Bristol University), notes that a group of critics gleefully pointed out that birds and crocodiles, the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs, do not urinate; they shed waste chemicals as more solid uric acid. Another category of WWD-haters, the fact checkers, began compiling lists of errors. In the first episode of Walking with Dinosaurs, Postosuchus urinates copiously. However, Benton notes that nobody can prove this was a real mistake: copious urination is the primitive state for tetrapods (seen in fish, amphibians, turtles, and mammals), and perhaps basal archosaurs did the same. He believes many other claims of "errors" identified in the first weeks fizzled out, as the critics had found points about which they disagreed, but they could not prove that their views were correct.
Tropeognathus (called Ornithocheirus at the time) was depicted as far larger than it actually was. In the book based on the series, it was claimed that several large bone fragments from the Santana Formation of Brazil possibly indicate that Tropeognatus may have had a wingspan reaching almost 12 metres and a weight of a hundred kilograms, making it one of the largest known pterosaurs. However, these specimens have not been formally described. The largest definite Tropegonathus specimens known measure 8 metres in wingspan and weigh 75 kilograms. The specimens which the producers of the program used to justify such a large size estimate are currently undescribed, and are being studied by Dave Martill and David Unwin. Unwin stated that he does not believe this highest estimate is likely, and that the producers likely chose the highest possible estimate because it was more "spectacular." However, no other Early Cretaceous pterosaurs reached its size.
Similarly, Liopleurodon was depicted as being 25m long in the series, whereas the adult size known to have been reached by Liopleurodon is around 7m.
During the Making of... documentary, the producers searched effortly to avoid grass, but it's been discovered that in India, grass has evolved during the Late Cretaceous.
The Walking With Dinosaurs Utahraptor model contains several flaws:
- Utahraptor is shown with the head of Deinonychus
- The body lacks feathers
- Hands are twisted backwards while in reality, they faced each other as if they were about to clap
- Shown living in Europe instead of Utah
Ornitholestes didn't have a nasal crest.
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 cynodont 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.
See more info in the Walking with...
The popularity of Walking with Dinosaurs led to numerous spin-offs in various media.
Walking with Dinosaurs - The Live Experience
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 & Felix Nobis in the original Australian version. The role of Huxley is currently played by James Roberts & Jonathan Bliss.
The dinosaurs featured are:
- Iguanodon carcass
- Liliensternus (not seen in documentary)
The show began touring North America in June 2007.
Tim Haines and Paul Chambers have also written a Walking With... encyclopedia known as The Complete Guide To Prehistoric Life, featuring most animals from the series, including the specials, and the accompanies Walking with Monsters
A child-oriented reversion of this series was released in America under the title Prehistoric Planet for the Discovery Kids Saturday morning line-up on NBC, with new narration read by Ben Stiller and Christian Slater over the same visuals. This version cut out the majority of the "violence" of the original.
The Walking With series
Because it was a big success, Tim Haines's direct follow-up in, what is known, the Walking with series. In 2001 the sequel Walking with Beasts, set in the Cenozoic era. This series featured extinct mammals and birds like Indricotherium and Gastornis. In 2005 the prequel Walking with Monsters, set primarily in the Paleozoic era, was produced.
- Main article: Chased by Dinosaurs
Chased By Dinosaurs, featuring Nigel Marven, stars Argentinosaurus and Therizinosaurus in two episodes in which Nigel tries to track down the biggest dinosaurs and the longest claws. The Ballad Of Big Al follows the life of an Allosaurus (Inspired by evidence found on a single Allosaurus skeleton). Nigel returns in Sea Monsters Trilogy, trying to survive the seven most dangerous seas of all time and meet the dangerous sea predators of the past -- Cameroceras, Cymbospondylus, Dunkleosteus, Basilosaurus, Megalodon, Liopleurodon and Tylosaurus. Nigel also stars in the latest special: Prehistoric Park, six episodes in which he tries to collect Tyrannosaurus, Mammoth, Smilodon, Microraptor, Arthropleura, and Deinosuchus for a prehistoric zoo known as Prehistoric Park.
There is a free downloadable game available at the bbc website. It is called Dinosaur World.
- ↑ http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/content_pages/record.asp?recordid=53368
- ↑ Walking with Dinosaurs - Fact Files
- Prehistoric Park
- Walking with...
- Walking with Monsters
- Walking with Beasts
- Sea Monsters
- Walking with Cavemen