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Walking with Beasts

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Walking with Beasts
Walking with beasts
Series information
Episodes New Dawn
Whale Killer
Land of Giants
Next of Kin
Sabre Tooth
Mammoth Journey
Narrator Kenneth Branagh (Original version)
Stockard Channing (U.S. version)
Christian Slater (Prehistoric Planet)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Nigel Paterson
Broadcast information
Original channel BBC One, Discovery Channel
Original run 15 November - 21 December 2001
Preceded by:
Walking with Dinosaurs
Followed by:
Chased by Dinosaurs

Walking with Beasts is a six-part television documentary produced by the BBC in the United Kingdom, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and released in 2001. In North America it has been retitled Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, and the original Discovery Channel broadcast was narrated by Stockard Channing. Like its predecessor, Walking with Dinosaurs, it recreates life in the Cenozoic by using a combination of both computer-generated imagery and animatronics. However, the Miocene epoch and Palaeocene epoch are not included.

Also like its predecessor, it was re-edited and re-narrated as a second "season" of Prehistoric Planet for the Discovery Kids lineup. Some of the concepts it illustrates are the evolution of whales, the evolution of the horse, and the evolution of humans.


Image Episode title Episode number Original airdate
New Dawn Title New Dawn 1 15 November 2001
This episode focuses on the warm and tropical world of the early Eocene, 16 million years after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. During this time, the mammals still have remained small, for there is little space for them to get back in the crampled conditions of the jungle, and birds - who were already large in the Mesozoic - dominate the world as shown by Gastornis, the first of such flightless giants.
Whale Killer Title Whale Killer 2 22 November 2001
This episode is set in late Eocene, when the polar caps froze over and drastically change the Earth's ocean currents and climate. The episode follows an early whale, Basilosaurus and how the world is changing into an ocean famine. We also follow on land an Andrewsarchus, the largest land mammal predator ever to walk the earth, and the prehistoric rhino Embolotherium.
Land of Giants Land of Giants 3 29 November 2001
This episode takes place during the late Oligocene, in Mongolia, where there were seasonal rains followed by a long drought. It tells the story of a mother Indricotherium, a massive hornless cousin of the modern rhinoceroses that was the largest land mammal to have ever lived. It also features the Entelodon, and the Hyaenodon.
NextOfKinTitleCard Next of Kin 4 6 December 2001
This episode takes place in the Great Rift Valley in northeastern Africa. The episode focuses around a tribe of small hominids known as Australopithecus, one of the first apes able to walk upright and a close ancestor to humans. Some of the topics explored in the episode are the close social bonds among the tribe, how they use grooming as a means of communication, and how they work together to forage for food and to defend one another from attacks from such animals as an angry male Deinotherium, an ancestor of the modern elephant which they have to run from to avoid being crushed, and the feline predator Dinofelis.
SabreToothTitleCard Sabre Tooth 5 13 December 2001
The fifth episode shows the strange fauna of the isolated continent of South America and explores the effects of the Great American Interchange, which had happened 1.5 million years earlier. The episode focuses on a male Smilodon, a sabre-toothed cat, called Half Tooth, whose leadership of a pride is threatened by two males who are brothers and work together against him. The rival males ultimately chase off Half Tooth (actually Half Tooth backs off wisely without any serious injuries, feeling that the two males would be too strong for him), kill his cubs, and take over his pride.
Mammoth Journey Title Mammoth Journey 6 21 December 2001
The sixth episode takes place during the last Ice Age. It starts in the peak of the summer. The North Sea has become a grassy plain because the ice at the polar caps has caused the sea levels to drop significantly. Grazing on the plain are herds of Woolly mammoths, wild horses, and bison. A clan of Cro-Magnons are also there spending the summer. The central focus of the episode is the migration of the herd of mammoth as they travel 400 kilometers from the North Sea to the Swiss Alps for the winter and then back again in the spring.



Companion book

A companion book was written by Tim Haines to accompany the first screening of the series in 2001. Unlike Walking with Dinosaurs, this book is more accurate in describing each episode, and there are no interesting setting changes. On the other hand, as with Walking with Dinosaurs, the written version of Walking with Beasts 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.

Deviations from the series

  • In the beginning of the episode "New Dawn", the female Gastornis tries to capture a Leptictidium after the small animal confronted another one of its kind; in the book, the Gastornis attack comes later during the day, when the Leptictidium is out with its young instead - there's no confrontation between the two Leptictidium.
  • In the book, the Ambulocetus co-exists more or less peacefully with the crocodiles, even getting into a tug-of-war over an animal it had killed. In the tv program, there is no confrontation with the crocodiles; in fact, the crocodile that the Ambulocetus swam up to got quickly away from the animal.
  • In the tv program, the ant attack does not bother the grazing Propalaeotherium. In the book, the Propalaeotherium are some of the first creatures to escape from the ant swarm; also, unlike the TV program, some ants do bite a young Leptictidium in the book, only to be eaten by the Leptictidium mother.
  • In the book, after the Gastornis captured and ate one of the Propalaeotherium, it returns to its nest and gets bitten by the ants as well, unlike the program, where it doesn't occur. Also, some of the flying ants (absent from the tv program) get eaten by the Godinotia during the night, and the animal captured by the Ambulocetus during the night is a creodont, rather than a Cynodictis.
  • In the episode "Whale Killer", the Dorudon mob the female Basilosaurus near the end of the episode, while in the book, they do it in the beginning of the chapter. Consequently, the Basilosaurus mating takes place not in the beginning of the book chapter, as it took place in the program, but later on, after the Dorudon encounter.
  • In the book, the Andrewsarchus manage to successfully steal the dead Embolotherium calf, while in the program, the mother manages to keep them away from its' dead offspring. Also, it takes place before the Basilosaurus comes to the mangroves, rather than later, as in the TV program. Plus, the encounter of a solitary Andrewsarchus with the sea turtles comes after the encounter with the Embolotherium, while in the TV program, it was in reverse.
  • In the book, before coming to the mangroves, the Basilosaurus encounters some Isurus sharks, but gives them a wide berth. It also encounters some sea cows. Neither encounter takes place in the TV program.
  • In the program, a shark jumps out of the water to catch an Apidium. In the book, the Apidium falls in the water first.
  • In the book, the "Land of the Giants" chapter opens with an old Hyaenodon chasing some Cynodictis away from its kill. In the tv program, it begins with the Indricotherium female giving birth.
  • In the TV program, the Chalicotherium is killed by a single Hyaenodon, who is later driven off by several Entelodon. In the book, the Chalicotherium is killed by two Hyaenodon, and they drive off a lone Entelodon instead.
  • In the book, the whole Cynodictis family drowns, while in the TV program the mother survives. Also, in the TV program, the episode ends with the Indricotherium calf driving off an Entelodon, while in the book it is a Hyaenodon instead.
  • In the book's chapter "The Prey's Revenge" ("Next of Kin" episode) the old male is called Greybeard rather than Grey, and the younger male is named Bruiser, not Hercules. Also, the fight for dominance is won by Bruiser (Hercules) without any use of a stick, unlike in the TV program; also, in the book, the Australopithecus are much more aggressive and promiscuous than on TV.
  • In the TV program, Greybeard's (Grey's) group are forced off by a rival group of Australopithecus - in the book the rivals briefly retreated when charged by Greybeard, something that did not happen on TV.
  • In the book, the Deinotherium is spotted just in time, and the whole group is able to brachiate away from the animal, while in the program, the Deinotherium "trees" them instead; also, Babble (the Australopithecus female) is able to save her offspring, and not get chased into a tree.
  • The scene with Blue searching through Deinotherium dung is absent from the TV program, same for the scenes where Blue is playing with Babble's baby, and where Bruiser (Hercules) intervenes before Babble can hurt Blue too much.
  • In the program, Blackeye finds an ostrich egg, but Greybeard (Grey) steals it from her. In the book, Bruiser (Hercules) finds the egg first and breaks it (unlike the TV program) instead.
  • In the book, the two males finally fight because a new female comes to the group; in the TV program, the two males finally fight over the picking rights for a zebra carcass instead, apparently to appease feminists.
  • In the program, the Dinofelis manages to separate Blue from the rest of the Australopithecus - in the book, it actually pursues them up their tree, and the Australopithecus fight the cat off due to their mutual protection, not to protect Blue.
  • The episode "Saber Tooth" is named "Sabre-Tooth World" in the book. Also, in the beginning of the episode, it is Half Tooth who scares away the Phorusrhacos, while in the book it is a female Smilodon instead.
  • In the book the Doedicurus mating fight comes before Half Tooth is challenged by the brothers, while in the TV program it is afterwards. Consequently, Half Tooth's encountar with the Megatherium occurs after the fight, and there's only one Megatherium, while in the program there are two.
  • In the book, after the brothers take over the pride, the oldest female Smilodon also dies; plus a female's willingness to mate causes two brothers to fight.
  • In the TV program, a lone Phorusrhacos kills a young Macrauchenia; in the book, there are two Phorsrhacos, and they kill a Hippidion calf. Also, the encounter between Half Tooth and a male Macrauchenia does not occur in the book.
  • In the book, both Smilodon brothers confront the Megatherium, though only one gets killed; also, the attack of the Phorusrhacos on a young Doedicurus does not take place in the program.
  • In the program, the last brother dies shortly after Half Tooth defeats him. In the book, both he and Half Tooth survive.
  • The episode "Mammoth Journey" (named "A Mammoth's Journey" in the book) begins with a female mammoth falling into a lake through the ice. In the book, though, this occurs later, with a male mammoth, as the book's chapter describes the mammoths startling a group of humans instead.
  • In the book, humans kill a single Megaloceros, while in the program, they attack two (but one escapes). Also, one of them gets hurt by the Megaloceros in the process.
  • In the program, the Neanderthal manages to escape the Coelodonta without too much pain; in the book, the Coelodonta breaks his hip and leg. Also, the book does not have the scene where two Coelodonta confront each other in the spring.
  • In the book, at least one Neanderthal is killed by a mammoth, when they ambush the herd at a cliff's edge; also, only one mammoth is killed, when in the program there were two.
  • In the program, the confrontation between the two mammoth males comes in the beginning, in the book it is at the end of the chapter.

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