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Nova: Ice Age Death Trap

Narrated by Lance Lewman , Eleanor Grant  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Narrated by Lance Lewman
  • Directors: Eleanor Grant
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS / Nova
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2012
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006WDEAR8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,697 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

During construction in Colorado, a bulldozer dug up a tooth so huge it had to be held in two hands. NOVA s Ice Age Death Trap reveals intimate secrets of the life and death of North America s most exotic and extreme creatures. Most tantalizing of all, the team unearths startling and controversial evidence of what may be the earliest humans ever to venture into the untamed wilderness of Ice Age America.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - June 7, 2012
A construction crew building a small dam near Snowmass, CO. unearths two large mammoth bones, and experts are called in. Fortunately they are given a period of time to dig through the area. They find several layers of prehistoric bones, including mammoths, giant buffalo and bears, and giant sloths. Strangely, there were no predator bones found. The bones date back 150,000 years - the experts theorize that the large animals sank into the sand during earthquakes and then could not extract themselves, starving to death. Over 4,000 bones were collected in a six-week period. Most surprising was finding cut marks on some bones - suggesting the existence of humans using cutting stones to utilize the meat in the top layer where the bones were also found with stones seemingly used to kill the animals. That top layer was dated back to about 40,000 years ago - about 20,000 years prior to prior earliest evidence of man in North America.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at a large fossil cache September 6, 2013
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Very interesting and well done documentary on a mastodon death trap. Would recommend to anyone interested in fossils and prehistoric life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Accidental Find is a Paleo Treasure Trove August 28, 2013
In October, 2010, a worker bulldozing a reservoir outside of Snowmass, Colorado finds some large bones that turn out to be those of a mammoth. A team headed by experts from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science unearth more mammoth bones, as well as many more of mastodon, some representatives of an extinct species of bison, and specimens of other varieties of Ice Age megafauna, dating from 45,000 to 150,000 years ago. The find is a mixed blessing, as the researchers are put in the odd situation of having to rush the excavation of the find of a lifetime.

From the scientists involved (and with the help of some adequate CGI), the viewer receives a crash course in the ecology of Pleistocene North America, the science behind ice ages in general, and the evolution of this particular site over tens of thousands of years--from lake, to bog, to meadow. The team (which includes experts in geology, paleontology, paleobotany, and evolutionary biology) examines several lines of evidence, concluding that the mass grave is probably the result of "liquefaction" from earthquakes sucking heavy beasts into the lake bed. But for all they learn about the site, new questions arise. Why are all the bones those of herbivores, without even any signs of scavenging on the bodies? Where are the predators and scavengers? Where are the saber-toothed cats, short-faced bears, and dire wolves?

And what of the 40,000-year-old mammoth covered in seemingly out-of-place boulders? It reminds at least one of the scientists involved of a known method ancient hunters used to cache large kills at the bottoms of lakes. Additionally, one of these bones has marks on it that don't seem consistent with gnawing or contact with rocks.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fortean honey trap August 8, 2013
"Ice Age Death Trap" is a very respectable PBS-National Geographic documentary and part of the NOVA science series. It follows a group of excavators at Snowmass in Colorado, as they are unearthing ancient mammal fossils from the bottom of an old lake. Most of the stuff shown is pretty conventional. If you're first love is mastodon bones, brace yourself for a treat.

The program is topped off by a sensational find: a mammoth carcass which seems to have been anchored to the bottom of the lake by boulders. This was standard practice among Paleo-Indians, but there is one problem: the mammoth remains are believed to be over 40,000 years old. However, according to conventional wisdom, humans didn't reach the Americas until about 15,000 years ago. Weirdly, this find is not discussed at the official site of the dig, the Snowmastodon Project. Too hot?

Since mastodons frankly aren't my cup of tea (or first love), I found "Ice Age Death Trap" pretty boring, until the pre-Clovis discovery. Fortean honey traps can show up in the most unexpected of places. Even at Snowmass, Colorado.
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