Walking with Prehistoric Beasts (TV Mini-Series 2001– ) Poster

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  • In short, partially. Walking with Beasts is a prehistory-related television documentary that's over a decade old, so the CGI and animatronic reconstructions of its dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures have become highly obsolete and unscientific. The field of paleontology advances in a staggering speed, meaning that even documentaries that are merely a year or two old tend to get quickly dated. Another problem was that in a lot of cases, the production crew purposely decided to make their creatures unscientific (or at least scientifically implausible) due to budgetary reasons, or for sheer sensationalism. At the very least, the production is far more accurate than its predecessor Walking with Dinosaurs (1999)

    A less than exhaustive list of the more prominent errors:

    * Gastornis is depicted as a fearsome predator that terrorized smaller animals. Modern research suggests that this interpretation has no basis -- instead, the animal was almost certainly fully herbivorous.

    * Eurotamandua is live-acted by a modern-day tamandua. It probably belonged to afrotherians (like aardvarks or elephant shrews) rather than xenarthrans (like anteaters), although it could be argued that it still looked somewhat like a tamandua.

    * Leptictidium moving around by hopping has been called into question.

    * Although pointed out by the narration, Ambulocetus isn't known from Europe. It also had an upright gait and it is doubtful that it hunted like crocodiles.

    * Propalaeotherium, although related, was probably not ancestral to modern horses.

    * Godinotia would have looked more like modern lemurs and were incapable of making chimpanzee-like sounds.

    * Basilosaurus was probably at home in shallow water, not open sea as the episode claims, which renders the episode's base plot moot.

    * Both sexes of Embolotherium (called brontotheres in the episode) probably had a heart-shaped crest, not just the males.

    * Andrewsarchus is no longer believed to have been a wolf-like animal that belonged to the mesonychids. Mesonychids were long thought to have been the relatives of whales, but now they are seen as a more distantly related group. Instead, Andrewsarchus would have looked similar to the entelodonts from episode 3 (which were indeed somewhat closely related to whales and hippos), and it would have been smaller than depicted in the show.

    * Hyaenodon's teeth were more suitable for shearing than crushing.

    * Deinotherium's anatomy has been criticized by some people, some think its trunk is too short.

    * Dinofelis probably didn't hunt human ancestors, going for grass-eating herbivores instead.

    * The series' depiction of Phorusrhacos is more in line with a similar bird, Titanis. Phorusrhacos was smaller and has been extinct for almost 20 million years before the time of the episode it's featured in. The claws on its wings are also too pronounced.

    * The faulty animation depicts the carapace of Doedicurus bending as they move about. They were in reality probably quite rigid.

    * Smilodon is presented as having lived and hunted like modern-day lions. This is highly speculative and most likely false. Their hunting strategy, which involves them running down their prey over long distances, is certainly incorrect, since Smilodon's bulky anatomy meant that it was a horrible runner. It has also been questioned whether saber-toothed cats had visible canines. Some think that they were covered by long upper lips or were protected by some skin flap. The cats needed to protect their canines to keep them sharp and clean, so it would make little sense for their saber teeth to be exposed.

    * Although plausible, given that almost every animal, even herbivores, eat meat to supplement their diet, the meat-eating Megatherium is speculation and based on a very controversial fringe theory.

    * Cro-Magnon people had darker skin.

    * Neanderthal wasn't the only species of human living besides the Cro-Magnons in episode 6. There was also Homo floresiensis, though they are known from a different area of the world (Indonesia) than where the episode takes place in (Northern Europe).

    * Some think that the notion of Neanderthals pushing mammoths off cliffs has been based on misinterpreted evidence.

    * The cave lion is a slightly tweaked reuse of the saber-tooth CGI models, and is therefor not accurate to real cave lions. In particular, their front limbs are too large and it again has exposed canines.

    * The coloration on certain Ice Age mammals is probably incorrect, if cave paintings depicting these are to be believed.


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