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Animation / Forgotten Bloodlines: Agate

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"This is Agate Springs."
Moropus poster 
Daeodon poster 

Forgotten Bloodlines: Agate is an upcoming Speculative Documentary film in the vein of programs like the BBC series Walking with Beasts, relying heavily on CGI to recreate the ancient environment and ecosystem that is today preserved as the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (traditionally Agate Springs Ranch) in northwestern Nebraska, United States. The film focuses on the creatures of the early Miocene Epoch (20 million years ago), specifically the chalicothere Moropus and the giant entelodont Daeodon, as they and other animals grow and struggle over the course of several years to adapt to the changing environment as the forests of western North America give way to vast open prairies.

The 40-minute film is an indie project created by a team of paleontologists and paleoartists, with narration provided by zoologist and wildlife adventurer Nigel Marven. It was officially announced in December 2020 and was initially slated for a 2022 release, with the first teaser trailer being released in January 2021 and the opening scene publicly released in November 2022. A Kickstarter ran during March 2023 to develop the project as a three part miniseries of 15 minute episodes.

This show provides examples of:

  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted. The full-body profile of the Daeodon model shows a penile sheath.
  • Bigger Is Better: The film stars the two largest animals found in the Agate Fossil Beds.
  • Cue the Sun: The documentary's opening scene begins with a sunrise over the prehistoric landscape, which the narration notes as the beginning of the dry season.
  • Death of a Child: The main action of the teaser is the adorable Moropus calf falling victim to a Daeodon.
  • Eats Babies: The Daeodon in the teaser makes its first appearance preying on a Moropus calf.
  • Full-Boar Action: A given considering that the trailer sets up Daeodon, the largest of the entelodonts (popularly known as "hell pigs") and one of the two main species in the film, as a fearsome predator.note 
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • Daeodon looks somewhat like a giant long-legged pig, though its snout shape and dentition is somewhat more hippo-like, with the ability to open its jaws quite wide.
    • Moropus vaguely resembles a giant tapir with the neck and head of a horse, with body patterning inspired by young tapirs and okapi.
    • Stenomylus are small camels that look and behave like antelope, and are even shown pronking in the opening scene.
  • Narrative-Driven Nature Documentary: The film will focus on the struggles of an individual Moropus and Daeodon, depicting how their sometimes overlapping life stories play out over the course of several years.
  • Noisy Nature: At least in the teaser, the Daeodon lets out a bellow as it springs upon its prey, despite being an ambush predator. Averted in the rest of the teaser though; the Moropus herd are actually pretty silent aside from their breathing noises instead of constantly bellowing for no apparent reason like large herbivores in other similar media.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Each individual Moropus seen in the trailer has a slightly different coat hue, and the calf has a completely different color pattern from the adults, lacking stripes on its legs and face.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Downplayed somewhat if only because the Daeodon doesn't look as monstrous and off-putting as other notable entelodont depictions like the aforementioned Walking with Beasts, and it's still ultimately depicted as a regular animal - albeit a pretty intimidating looking one - just trying to survive.
  • Rack Focus: The presence of the Daeodon is revealed this way in teaser, with the virtual camera shifting focus from the Moropus calf in the foreground. The trick is employed again in the opening scene, though the Daeodon was already introduced a few shots earlier.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: The teaser cuts to black just as the Daeodon attacks, and all we hear is the Moropus calf's blood-curdling scream.
  • Stalker Shot: The first onscreen appearance of Daeodon in the teaser is of it hiding in a thicket behind the Moropus calf as the music swells.