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Before the Dinosaurs: Walking With Monsters

81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs (DVD)

Amazon.com

Many people think of the dinosaurs as the first inhabitants of the earth, but this prequel to Walking With Dinosaurs puts viewers in the midst of a host of strange creatures that inhabited the earth millions of years before the dinosaurs ever existed. With the help of complex computer animation and the research of hundreds of paleontologists, the BBC presents an extremely realistic picture of the earth's earliest, most primitive aquatic inhabitants and chronicles their evolution to the precursors of man himself and the mighty dinosaurs. The first Walking With Monsters episode begins in the Cambrian period 530 million years ago, showcasing how a simple jellyfish-like sea creature evolved over 200 million years into new creatures with eyes and protective external and internal skeletal systems. These adaptations resulted in the world's first fish, arthropods, amphibians, and land-loving reptiles. The second episode details the giant insects of the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago and demonstrates how evolution empowered amphibians and reptiles by creating mechanisms to regulate their own body temperature and developing specialized teeth. The final episode begins in the late Permian period 250 million years ago when the earth was essentially one large desert full of volcanic activity. While much of earth's life was extinguished during this period, adaptation and evolution continued, bringing the development of a specialized hip in a tiny reptile called the Euparkeria that would prove to be the forerunner of mammals and evolve into the dinosaurs in the Triassic period. While some criticize this project as a somewhat overly dramatic presentation of speculative paleontology as fact, this program utilizes scientific inference to bring pre-history to life and highlight the amazing adaptations and evolution of the earth's earliest inhabitants. The bonus "Trilogy of Life" feature details the research, vision and hard work inherent in the creation of the Walking With Monsters, Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Prehistoric Beasts. (Ages 6 and older) --Tami Horiuchi


Special Features

  • Programs 1-3
  • Trilogy of Life: the making of the series

Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Nigel Marven
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2006
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BNI9EU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,414 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Before the Dinosaurs: Walking With Monsters" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By John A Lee III on February 12, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Nobody should confuse this with a course of paleontology. Nobody should even confuse this with a broad survey of the subject. Instead, it is a magnificent flight of imagination based upon some real science but which does not let the science take precedence over the wonder. It is wonderful

This is a series of three programs. Each deals with prehistoric life before the advent of the dinosaurs.

In the first program, we are treated to one theory of the formation of our planet and introduced to the Cambrian seas. There are not dinosaurs here. Fish barely even exist. That does not stop the cycle of predation in a world of gigantic marine scorpions and the proto-fish prey. We see the colonization of the land by the first plants and encounter the first amphibians, learning a little bit about the evolutionary pressures that drove their emergence. The program ends with the first true reptiles and the hard shelled egg.

The second episode takes place more on land. Gigantic arthropods contest with gigantic amphibians and the odd reptile here and there. We see the first strains of reptile that will eventually give rise to the mammals. Life is still a contest of the predator and the prey.

The third episode advances the story through the lives of some early, pre-dinosaur reptiles. The motif of eat and be eaten is still the rule of the day. The episode ends with the apprearance of true dinosaurs, where the series first began.

There is a lot of speculation in this work. Some of it is well reasoned and logical. Some of it is much less so. Only a few species are looked at with any degree of detail. The great Devonian age of the fishes is bypassed in a short sentence. That does not stop the wonder of it all.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on February 16, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Three episodes that explore the life, or what life might have been like, before the dinosaurs showed up onto the stage. With only about 90 minutes that does seem to leave a lot of details out but most of the major turning points are hit on - animals and plants moving from the oceans to the land, the development of certain organs for survival, evolution working to make animals and plants more fit. Sea scorpions, giant spiders and killer fish that could take on sharks make me happy I live NOW and not back then.

The DVD extra, the Trilogy of Life, talks about the history of the THREE shows, Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Beasts and Walking with Monsters to show how the first series produced the next and so on.

I really enjoyed this series and wanted more - I think dinosaurs get too much of the spotlight and would like to know more about life before and after them.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rob Martin on June 27, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This could have been a truly wonderful experience, but it falls quite short of the rest of the series. The animations are still good, and it's wonderful to see all of these reconstructions (even when artistic licenses are invoked), but there are many parts that may mislead the casual viewer.

The video starts will the collision of a large bolide that led to the formation of the moon, and then we jump to the Cambrian and <Anomalocaris>. If you are interested in geobiology, early plants or other invertebrates of the early oceans, don't even pick this video up; they are mentioned in passing if at all. Okay, so I guess we are talking about `monsters' and <Anomalocaris>, not microbes, the first plants or other inverts, was the monster of the time, but the video moves on to <Cephalaspis>, hardly a monster. Granted, eurypterids are covered, but the chronology of their evolution becomes quite confusing. Now, I am expecting some of the true monsters of the late Paleozoic; <Dunkleosteus>, xenacanthid sharks, <Onychodus>, etc. Instead we leap ahead to <Hynerpeton> and the land invasion of the amphibians (<Stethacanthus> is shown, but never mentioned by name). Suddenly, we are in a <Dimetrodon> landscape (how about that amniote egg?--why not convey its importance?). Here is where a lot of speculation stretches the limits of reason. Apparently, though there is no evidence of it, baby pelycosaurs would cover themselves in dung to escape the cannibalistic adults. Funny, but I never came across anything like that in any of my paleoecology work... Later, the video implies that the <Dimetrodon> eggs hatch in mere hours!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 1, 2006
Format: DVD
this special was amazing. i am really 16, and have always been a fan of creatures from before dinosaur supremacy. however, i think 90 minutes is far too short for such a huge amount of life. most of the time periods up until the early Permian were skimmed over, and the Ordovician period was completely passed over, without a word said.

also, there were many creatures that i was disapointed not to see get re-created in this special. a few apperences, such as Gorgonops, Dimetrodon, Edaphosaurus, Euparkeria, Pterygotus, etc, i was happy to see. however, i was dissapointed when i did not see Icthyostega, Estemmenosuchus, Protorosaurus(earliest known archosaur), and many more creatures that i would like to know more about.

it is good, for 90 minutes, but if the creators were to re-create it as a four hour special, it could become something truly spectacular.
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