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A rabbit-sized insectivore, and the (claimed) protagonist of the first episode.
- Big Eater: It must eat constantly due to its high metabolism.
- Book-Ends: The Leptictidium family survives and is back to patrolling the jungle floor for food, like when it was introduced.
- Decoy Protagonist: While introduced as the protagonist of the episode and used to personify the main theme of mammals diversifying but still remaining small, the Leptictidium stays mostly on the side while the plot gravitates to larger, more memorable animals like Gastornis and Ambulocetus.
- Fragile Speedster: Both smaller and weaker than other forest animals, but quick as a whip.
- Inferred Holocaust: Though the family survives this disaster, the narration reveals that the species won't survive the retreat of the rainforest and will leave no modern descendants.
- The Mentor: The mother to her four young.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: A rabbit-sized kangaroo crossed with an elephant shrew. It also has bizarrely human-like hands.
- Palette Swap: The presumed Cretaceous ancestor is brown, the ones in the episode have warmer colors and cryptic lines typical of jungle mammals.
- Riddle for the Ages: As explained in the making-off, and despite having whole skeletons, scientists still don't know if it really hopped like a kangaroo or run on two feet, like a theropod dinosaur.
- Slept Through the Apocalypse: The family is deep in their den when the volcanic gas releases. They wake up to find all their neighbors dead.
- Small, Annoying Creature: When the family jumps past the Ambulocetus while fleeing from Gastornis, it is not clear if the former tries to feed on them, or it just finds their hopping annoying.
- Ugly Cute: Long nose, ugly teeth, creepy human-like hands for some, but pretty colors and the perfect size for a petting zoo.
- Who's Laughing Now?: After surviving the catastrophe, the youngsters inspect the carcass of the scary Ambulocetus.
A giant, flightless killer-bird, slightly taller than a human. It is both the largest animal, and the main antagonist of the episode.
- Big Bad: The main predator of the episode.
- Bullet Time: Used while it charges a herd of Propalaeotherium.
- The Dreaded: Most mammals are terrified of it.
- Feathered Fiend: As an avian macropredator, this is to be expected.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: Even those who believed Gastornis was a predator at the time thought that it was an ambush predator rather than a sprinter as portrayed in the episode. And there were many decent-sized carnivore mammals and reptiles in the area at the time, so the narrator's claim that dinosaur-like birds are keeping the niche for themselves is pure shilling.
- Mama Bear: Fiercely protective of her (only) egg.
- Monster Is a Mommy: It nurtures an egg.
- Red Right Hand: The featherless, red face seems to be there just to make it scarier. Carnivore birds with naked faces feed on animals larger than themselves (e.g. vultures), while all the potential prey in this episode is small.
- Rule of Cool: It was debated for a long time if Gastornis was vegetarian or carnivorous, and it turned out to be a herbivore. The show makes it the undisputed top predator.
- Rule of Drama: We don't know how many eggs were in a Gastornis nest. But it is more dramatic if it is only one, and ants eat it when it hatches.
- Science Marches On:
- It was actually a herbivore. The real top predator may have been a fast-running land crocodile.
- Eggshells from France reveal eggs were similar in size to cassowary eggs, while the one in the episode seems ostrich-size if not larger. Cassowaries lay three eggs or more at once.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The egg gets eaten by a swarm of ants right as it hatches.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To the Mesozoic dinosaurs. Justified since it is a theropod dinosaur.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Regardless of its diet, Gastornis had feet very similar to the modern cassowary, which can disembowel a dog with one kick.
- Villainous BSoD: Her chick's unexpected death by giant ants makes it shriek. Since it doesn't appear afterwards, it may have actually left because of it.
- What Could Have Been: The larger feathers on the back of the head were added late into production and there is official art both with them, and without.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It doesn't appear again after its chick is killed and we are not told of its fate after the gas explosion in the lake. The book implies that it died, but other sources claim that it was unaffected because it had left the forest after the death of its offspring.
A transitional, early species of whale with a secondary story-arc in the episode.
- Distant Finale: The final shot of the Ambulocetus corpse morphs into the later, more advanced whale Basilosaurus while the narrator says that whales have a long history ahead.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: An aquatic ambush predator like a crocodile, even though it shares a habitat with actual crocodiles.
- Follow the Leader: Essentially a mammal imitating a crocodile.
- Hero of Another Story: Gets its own story arc.
- Irony: Killed by the gas release while the Leptictidium survives, yet the lineage of the former is destined to flourish while the other is to become extinct.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Lampshaded. The narrator states that it reached the lake after swimming upstream from the ocean. It still beggars belief, as early whales like this are only known from India and Pakistan while the episode is set in Germany's Messel Shales.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: It is the size of a sea lion, looks and behaves like a crocodile, but it is hairy and swims up and down like an otter. The hands are feet look intermediate between a seal and waterfowl. The only obvious whale feature is in its teeth.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: For all intents and purposes, it acts like one.
- Rule of Cool: Shown ambushing land animals rather than catching fish (which were probably its main diet instead, as in its ecological equivalent the Nile crocodile).
- Science Marches On: It is now believed to have been more of an obligate swimmer, which would make it more fusiform and thus even unlikelier to ambush land animals and sleep on land. On the other hand, it was confirmed to have lived both in salt and freshwater.
- Who's Laughing Now?: The Leptictidium family inspects its corpse, the morning after the volcanic gas release.
A small basal horse, and the main herbivorous animal of the episode.
- Butt-Monkey: Hunted by all large predators in the episode, and a victim of geological phenomena to boot. The first time we see one it is almost hit by a small meteorite.
- Fragile Speedster: Its only defense is running away and hoping the predator goes for a different member of the herd.
- Intoxication Ensues: While foraging on the forest floor, the herd consumes ripe grapes — way too ripe, in some cases. This makes some lower their guard and even have trouble standing, becoming easy prey for the Gastornis.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: A horse the size of a cat, as stated by Branagh. It has four small hooves per hand, eats leaves instead of grass, and has cryptic coloration like other small forest dwellers.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Repeat: A small horse the size of a cat.
A small primate, appearing near the end of the episode.
- Anticlimax: In more meanings than one. They stay most of the episode sleeping on the trees, but are killed almost as soon as they wake up.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: The probable reason why they were made so monkey-like. The show can show them and move on without having to explain what they are. There is also some brief comedy in the way they yawn during the day and berate the Gastornis for disturbing their sleep.
- Historical Beauty Upgrade: Godinotia was so down in the primate family tree, it almost certainly had a hairy face and dog-like snout, like a lemur or bushbaby, and was not a near copy of a capuchin monkey as in the show. Further Fridge Logic sets in when you consider that monkeys have hairless faces to make facial gestures more evident. Obviously, this is useless in a nocturnal animal like Godinotia was portrayed as in this episode.
- Maniac Monkeys: They act somewhat creepily during the storm.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The accompanying media shows them woke during the day, when they should be asleep.
- Out with a Bang: Two of them are killed by gasses while mating.
- Really Gets Around: They spend the entire night mating.
- Sleepyhead: Subverted because they are nocturnal. But since the episode takes place over a day, they spend most of the run time sleeping or trying to. Then, as soon as night falls and they become active, the gas release happens.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The end result is almost non distinguisable from the following episode's Apidium, despite using a completely different model. Had they been lemur-like, the show would have shown the diversity and evolution of primates better. The following episode may have thus accompanied the introduction of more conventionally monkey-like Apidium with a reference to the evolution of sociality and facial gestures in primates, rather than relegating it to the making-off.
Giant carnivorous ants appearing briefly but memorably, when they kill the Gastornis chick.
- All There in the Manual: Only called "giant ants" in the episode.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: This is the largest ant in the fossil record.
- Eats Babies: Eats the chick that was only minutes old at the time of its death.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Not thoroughly, but they do turn up very suddenly.
- Hive Mind: Justified since all ants have this.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: They swarm around a baby bird and strip it to the bone in seconds, and just show up right the heck out of nowhere.
- One-Scene Wonder: They have only one scene, but are one of the best remembered animals of this episode.
- Outside-Context Villain: They appear out of nowhere, put everyone at risk, and deliver a blow to the Gastornis that could not be replicated by anyone else.
- Rule of Cool: Their deadly swarming behaviour. Somewhat justified since ants are social insects, and even your average ants will swarm if they find a big source of food.
- Strong Ants: Gladly averted. They rely on numbers, not strength.
- The Swarm: How else would they kill things thousands of times their size?
- The Worf Effect: They get pass the Gastornis vigilance and kill its chick just as it is being born.
- Zerg Rush: Being ants, this is their default attack strategy.
A small nocturnal carnivore, member of the group ancestral to both dogs and cats.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Physically, rather than behaviorally. Miacids looked more like tree weasels than terrestrial creatures and were certainly not that pup-like.
- All There in the Manual: Only identified in derived media and never at genus level.
- Anachronism Stew: Even without considering that the model is recycled from the bear-dog, the setting is just too early for carnivorans to have adapted to life on the ground, so the miacid shouldn't have "running legs". A mesonychid or an early creodont would have fit the role better.
- Flip-Flop of God: The series website identified it as a miacid, but the book Walking with Beasts: A Prehistoric Safari claims it is a creodont. It should be noted that the books describe scenes in different enough terms to be considered an Alternate Continuity, however.
- Monster Munch: Shows up to be eaten by Ambulocetus.
- No Name Given: Not even in the manual, since it is not even supposed to be a specific species.
- Prop Recycling: It's just the bear-dog model of "Land of Giants", downsized to fit in the Ambulocetus' jaws.
- Red Shirt: Killed as soon as it appears so the Ambulocetus doesn't come across as all bark and no bite.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: With some Carnivore Confusion sprinkled in. They wouldn't give Ambulocetus a taste of ridiculously cute critters like Leptictidium, Propalaeotherium and Godinotia, but crushing and drowning a meateater was okay (although it may be because the audience already sympathizes with the ridiculously cute critters seen earlier; had this one been given more screen time, it may not have gotten the proverbial axe).
EurotamanduaAn anteater-like animal live-acted by a modern tree anteater (Tamandua).
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Appears in only one shot, when the setting is introduced.
- Genius Bonus: Never referenced by the narration, but its inclusion is not gratuitous, and it is shown and directly addressed (though still unnamed) in the first making-of, "Triumph of the Beasts".
- Science Marches On: Zigzagged. After the episode aired, it was reclassified as a primitive pangolin. However, due to its lack of armor it would have been near-indistinguisable from a tamandua when alive.
A large predatory whale, and the main protagonist of the episode.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Bigger fish to Physogaleus, Moeritherium — who are confident in the water because they are too big for sharks and crocodiles — and Dorudon. She also dwarfs the Andrewsarchus, which at the time the episode came in was believed to be a distant land dwelling relative and one of the largest carnivorous land mammals of all time.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Zigzagged. The Basilosaurus never attack each other, but the main female slaughters a pod of the closely related Dorudon in the final act.
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: The main female is shown trailing clouds of blood every time she makes a kill.
- Censor Steam: Subverted. Many bubbles are released while the Basilosaurus have sex, but you can see enough of it.
- Cow Tools: They have well developed hind legs, but they are too small and inconveniently placed to sustain them on land. Scientists theorize that they were used to help the animals position themselves while mating.
- Distant Finale: Serves as one for the previous episode, which ends with the image transitioning from Ambulocetus to Basilosaurus.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: She gives birth to a healthy calf in the end. Subverted in that the species is explicitly stated to go extinct soon afterwards.
- Eats Babies: She slaughters the youngest generation of Dorudon.
- Establishing Character Moment: It's shown hunting sharks and ignoring smaller fish in its first appearance.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Except for its solitary nature, its behavior is based entirely on modern killer whales.
- Gag Penis: The male has a comically large one that is fully visible after it detatches from the female.
- Genius Bruiser: It has the intelligence expected of a cetacean, and it is a top predator.
- Inferred Holocaust: The episode ends with the reveal that changing currents caused the extinction of Basilosaurus, which left no modern descendants.
- Most fossils of this marine species have been found in the Sahara Desert, in areas that are now among the driest on Earth.
- The complete species name, Basilosaurus cetoides, means "Emperor Lizard shaped like a whale". It is the complete opposite: A true whale, shaped like a reptile.
- Lightning Bruiser: A fast swimmer, relying mostly on speed to hunt.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Invoked by the narrator when he claims that the Basilosaurus would normally not look for food in the mangrove swamps, and that she's there because she's getting desperate.
- Monster Is a Mommy: The female is even more aggressive than usual because she's pregnant and desperate to keep herself and her unborn calf alive during a mass extinction. The pregnancy is used to garner the audience's sympathy for the creature.
- Non-Indicative Name: It's not a reptile, despite its scientific name meaning "Kingly whale-like lizard".
- Prehistoric Monster: Portrayed in a similar manner to Walking with Dinosaurs's Liopleurodon.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: She would come across as a villain if the episode starred any other animal, but, since she's the protagonist, we cheer because she succeeded in having her baby.
- Rule of Cool: It was only 20 tons in Real Life, one-third its weight in the show. This was because it was ridiculously thin (more like an anaconda than a whale).
- Science Marches On: Was actually a shallow-water predator not found in open water, and would have had no trouble navigating the small channels.
- Sea Monster: A giant predatory whale big enough to devour nearly anything else it encounters in the water.
- Something Else Also Rises: The tail emerging from the water can be considered a metaphor for the sexual climax.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Its head shape and teeth are still loosely similar to Ambulocetus, smoothing the transition between them despite Basilosaurus having grown to modern filter whales size already (it was, in fact, the largest mammal of all time until such whales evolved 21 million years later).
- Super-Persistent Predator: She chases a Moeritherium to a sandbank and circles around for hours, waiting for the tide to increase. She only fails because she attacks too early and the Moeritherium can swim to safety.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: As stated by the narrator, the Basilosaurus is covering the niches left vacant by the giant sea reptiles of the Mesozoic, and it even resembles the last of them (mosasaurs).
- Villain Protagonist: In the end, she does cause the most damage in the episode.
- The Worf Effect: Her Establishing Character Moment has her playing with the former top predators of the ocean as if they were ragdolls.
A horse-sized terrestrial scavenger, appearing in a separate plotline of the episode.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: Despite looking like a wolf, it is actually an ungulate and has hooves instead of claws. This is downplayed because it actually descends from the primitive stock of omnivore ungulates, like pigs, rather than having evolved from a strict vegetarian.
- Canis Major: Subverted. It looks like a massive, scary-looking wolf.
- Carnivore Confusion: Of the Scavengers Are Scum kind.
- Eats Babies: Although just scavenging.
- Informed Species: Now falls into this thanks to Science Marches On. It would have looked more pig-like as opposed to the wolf-like predator from the program.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Known from a single skull find in Mongolia, but moved to the Pakistani coast (the birthplace of whales) to tie it better with the Basilosaurus plot.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: A large wolf-like carnivore, but it has hooves like an ungulate.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Andrewsarchus was likely included because it was believed at the time to be the largest representative of the mesonychids, and the mesonychids were believed to be the closest land-dwelling relatives of the whales. Both ideas have been disproven since then, yet Andrewsarchus was found to be a close relative of the whales after all, just in a different branch of the ungulate family tree.
- Rule of Cool: Actually known for only one skull found in Mongolia. All we know is that it was big, had a big head and was carnivorous.
- Science Marches On: It is now believed to have been more related to hippopotamuses and whales, and to have looked more like an entelodont. It is also possible that Andrewsarchus lived before the time setting of this episode, but with only one skull known (and excavated in The Roaring '20s, no less), it is hard to tell.
- Scavengers Are Scum: Despite their size, they are hardly heroic or scary... and this is because they are scavengers, apparently. The mother brontothere has little trouble keeping them away from her dead calf.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Even if by complete coincidence, it also has a long, broadly triangular head, with a short neck, and large, pointy teeth — just like primitive whales Ambulocetus and Basilosaurus. Almost any piece on whale evolution by the BBC uses this model of Andrewsarchus in the spot reserved for land animals prior to Ambulocetus.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Two Andrewsarchus try to feed on a brontothere calf that is already dead. They don't succeed nor cooperate with each other, since they aren't social animals.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The Andrewsarchus plot is completely removed from the Basilosaurus plot. The only relation between the two is that they are coincidental, both suffer the climate changes of the Eocene-Oligocene transition, and at one point an Andrewsarchus smells a Basilosaurus vertebra that the high tide brought to the beach.
A rhino-like herbivore the size of an Asian elephant, appearing along the Andrewsarchus in its separate plotline.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: After a whole day, the mother gives up the defense of her calf, only to mistake the effects of two Andrewsarchus battling for the carcass for her calf moving. Convinced that it's still alive, the mother goes full Rhino Rampage on the Andrewsarchus and makes them flee.
- All for Nothing: A mother wastes away defending her calf from Andrewsarchus in the aftermath of a brutal drought, unaware that it is stillborn.
- All There in the Manual: Only identified as "brontotheres" in the narration, the name of the larger group they belong to.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Instead of horns, the females have expanded bones that look like double-headed clubs. In the males, these are flattened and further expanded, mirroring a shield.
- Cow Tools: The structures, actually part of the nasal bones, are too brittle to be of actual use fighting. If anything, it's the female structures that are more resistant unlike what you would expect from an ungulate. While they are still used for display and dominance in the show, in real life this isn't as sure, and some artists have even restored Embolotherium with their nostrils at the top of them.
- Dumb Muscle: Big, tough and not too bright. In one scene, a mother continues to protect her dead calf simply because she's not aware that it's already dead. The narrator addresses it directly:Kenneth Branagh: They are twice as big as modern rhinos; their brain is just one third of their size. They are not the brightest of beasts.
- Mama Bear: A tragic version, because the effort of the mother, while commendable, is also pointless.
- Mighty Glacier: It's large and strong, but not smart or fast.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Also found in Mongolia, not Pakistan.
- Mood Dissonance: The narrator says the herd is living its hardest challenge yet (in reference to the drought) while a brontothere scratches its butt on a palm.
- Rhino Rampage: Done by the mother to protect her calf, even though it's not an actual rhino. The males also play "pretend rhino" in their fight for dominance, but do not make as much contact because of the fragility of their facial ornaments.
- Rule of Cool: It is actually not that clear if embolotheres had any noticeable sexual dimorphism, unlike other brontotheres with conventional horns. There is at least one proposal that the bony growths of embolotheres were resonance chambers for communication, like the cranial structures of some hadrosaurs.
A semiaquatic basal relative of elephants, appearing as potential prey for the Basilosaurus.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The Basilosaurus chases one to a sandbar and circles around it, waiting for the tide to rise. The Moeritherium watches helplessly until the Basilosaurus miscalculates and attacks too early, enabling the Moeritherium to swim to safety.
- Gentle Giant: Big and bulky, but with a docile disposition.
- Honorable Elephant: Despite not looking much like one, they are early proboscideans, and like their descendants, they are happy to be left alone.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Branagh notes its resemblance to a mix between an elephant, a pig and a hippo.
- Ugly Cute: Admitely, you have to get very close to appreciate its (elephant-like) cuteness.
A small, early monkey, appearing in a small, plot-irrelevant role in the African mangroves.
- Butt-Monkey: A rather literal example, given that they are the victim of all kinds of unpleasantries. Apidium is so much a Butt-Monkey that it is brutally killed onscreen by the other Butt-Monkey, Physogaleus.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Even more straight than the Godinotia example.
- Hazardous Water: They are completely unprepared to survive in the water despite living in a mangrove. As a result, they move only through the canopy, jumping from one tree to other if necessary, or walk on land during the low tide. If they stay too close to the water for too long, there is a guarantee something will jump and eat them.
- Non-Indicative Name: They are named after the Apis bull of Egyptian Mythology because the first known fossil was first believed to belong to a small ungulate, but it counts as a Lucky Translation in English because of its resemblance to the word "ape".
- Le Parkour: Has little problems crossing the channels due to its jumping ability.
- Science Marches On: It is possible that the genus was more recent than previously thought.
- Slo Mo: Used while an Apidium jumps from one tree on the side of the channel to another.
A smaller whale preyed on by the Basilosaurus.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Pays hard for this trope's aversion, since being a close relative of Basilosaurus doesn't spare it from the carnage.
- Forced to Watch: The Basilosaurus comes day after day to their refuge to eat their calves and they can do nothing about it.
- Inferred Holocaust: The Dorudon pod has a hard future ahead, given that the Basilosaurus just slaughtered a whole generation of them, almost right after they were born, and in a time of global stress.
- Mama Bear: Though their efforts are futile, as the Basilosaurus manages to eat their babies.
- Monster Munch: Turns up just to get eaten.
A small shark that only plays a minor role in the episode, mainly for scenery and to establish the power of the episode's true protagonist.
- All There in the Manual: Only referred to as "shark" in the episode.
- Always Someone Better: Sharks were top predator in the 25 million years between the extinction of the mosasaurs and the evolution of its Suspiciously Similar Substitute, the basilosaurid whales.
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: A bright red trail is left when one hunts an Apidium sitting on a branch near the water. Makes for an early scene when it was Physogaleus's blood, following a Basilosaurus attack.
- Butt-Monkey: Even its only promotional image shows it being devoured by Basilosaurus.
- Jump Scare: Used when it eats a monkey.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The model is very similar to "Cruel Sea"'s Hybodus (minus Hybodus's dorsal fin spikes and horns), and its role is the same: to be irrelevant next to the episode's Prehistoric Monster/Sea Monster that is the real protagonist/antagonist.
- Threatening Shark: Subverted, although played straight in the swamp.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: It nails an Apidium in one scene, and it is awesome.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: A goofy elephant ancestor? We side with it for once and wish for it to escape the Basilosaurus' trap. A slaughter of primitive whale calves? Harsh, but that's Nature, and the Basilosaurus is desperate. Basilosaurus playing catch with two live sharks? How funny!
- The Worf Effect: Eaten by the Basilosaurus in its very first scene. Also shown to avoid Moeritherium.
Land Of Giants
A prehistoric rhino, though tall as a giraffe. It is the largest land creature to walk the Earth since the extinction of the dinosaurs and one of the largest land mammals of all time.
- Abusive Parents: The mother indricothere pushes her calf away rudely several times, including once when she could not lactate because she was dehydrated, and another when she was mating with her new suitor. When the calf turns three years old, all maternal instinct vanishes and she drives each away to fend for themselves.
- All There in the Manual: The actual genus is Paraceratherium. However this is seldomly used even in accompanying material. The name "indricothere" (from the genus's subfamily Indricotheriinae and in turn, Indricotherium, a synonym of Paraceratherium) is preferred.
- Bait-and-Switch: The final sequence. See Infant Immortality.
- Camera Abuse: The very last shot of the episode involves the protagonist calf charging at, and seemingly knocking down the camera from a tripod. No small feat considering it is made of CGI.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The episode follows a male indricothere from birth until it is larger than any other animal, baring other indricotheres. This is stressed in the Spanish dub, which changes the name of the episode from "Land of Giants" to "Little Giant".
- Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Two male indricotheres fight for the rigth to mate with the protagonist's mother.
- Cow Tools: The relatively small tusks are visible sometimes but they don't seem to have a function in the show (modern suggestions include peeling bark, like elephant tusks, and playing a part in mating-related rituals and fights). Oddly, they are somewhat similar to the teeth of oviraptorosaurs which evolved earlier in the same area and are just as baffling to scientists.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Excluding the elephant-long pregnancy and the giraffe-style neck fighting, their behavior is a near copy of the two African rhinos.
- Foreshadowing: The mother drives the protagonist's older brother away when the former is only a few days old. The narrator says that the new calf doesn't know that he is watching his own future: when he turns three himself, his mother (now with another young calf) chases him out.
- Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Obviously, animals don't marry, but the scene where the indricotheres mate has shades of this. The Mama Bear is suddenly very permissive with the winner of the duel, letting it drive her son away and (what almost looks like) slapping him for interfering while they are having sex.
- Infant Immortality: In a scene inspired from white rhinos, the mother indricothere drives away the protagonist when she is near the end of her pregnancy. The protagonist is three years old, far from its adult size still, and likely sexually immaturenote . In his first time away, he is injured in a leg (the narrator speculates by an older male indricothere) and tries to return to his mother, who chases him away again. The protagonist then heads into the bush, limping, while the narrator talks of his unlikely odds to survive... only to show up again, completely healthy, in a final scene set months later.
- Longest Pregnancy Ever: Two years, like an elephant.
- Mama Bear: The mother successfully defends her child against Hyaenodon several times and the entelodonts.
- Mighty Glacier: Slow moving, but extremely strong.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: A rhino with the height of a giraffe and some elephant-like aspects.
- Nigh Invulnerable: After a certain age, they are far too big to be killed by anything.
- Non-Standard Character Design: The mother can be picked apart from others because it has an ear deformity and carries it permanently lower than the other.
- Playing Gertrude: The infant model is always used to represent the young indricothere, even after it should have acquired adult proportions.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Obviously the calf doesn't like when his mother mates again, kicks him out and has another calf. But staying with her would have been worse for both and their species.
- Replacement Goldfish: The mother kicks her calf out when she has a new one. The species themselves are essentially nature's replacement goldfish for sauropods.
- Rhino Rampage: Though they do not resemble modern rhinos, the mother slips into this behaviour every now and then.
- Rule of Cool: It was known even at the time that the correct name was Paraceratherium, but "indricothere" sounded better.
- Science Marches On:
- While paleontologists never expected Paraceratherium to behave like a carbon copy of African rhinos, this depiction became even less plausible after Prothero reviewed the group's biology extensively a decade later. One of the conclusions was that a mammal the size of Paraceratherium would be in permanent risk of overheating, so it would be mostly nocturnal or crepuscular, and spend the day in the shade, bathing, mud-bathing, or near water. Since indricotheres fed on tree leaves only, they would avoid depleting their food source by moving constantly from one forested area to another, which would not tire them due to their size, and might do yearly migrations like giraffes and elephants (but not modern rhinos). This would be specially true in desertic areas like the one shown in the episode. Ranging areas would be enormous and densities very low; to guarantee that mating happened at replaceable rates, the females may live in herds or family groups. Prothero even suggested that indricotheres had long upper lips similar to short elephant trunks to help browsing (but no real trunks, as the nostrils would be in the normal place) and elephant-like ears to help cool themselves, but this was rejected by anatomical experts like Antón due to the absence of the necessary muscle attachments in the skull.
- Life near large bodies of water was further supported by isotope testing of fossils from central China, which also had an arid climate like Mongolia.
- New excavations at the original "Baluchitherium" Bugti Beds of Pakistan found many indricothere bones with bite marks of Crocodylus bugtiensis and bear-dogs. While the bear-dogs can be explained as scavengers, it is plausible that C. bugtiensis could predate on sick or subadult indricotheres, given that it could reach 11 meters in length.
- It is possible that all indricotheres at the wetter, more forested Bugti Beds are females and calves, while those at desertic Hsanda Gol (the main basis of the episode) are adult males - coincidence or evidence of ecological segregation between sexes?
- Males were found to have longer tusks than females, which at least strongly suggests that tusks were used in threatening or mating displays. This is not the case in the show where the threatening display is a combination of African rhinos and giraffes.
- Andrews originally restored "Baluchitherium" as a tremendously massive animal even by rhino standards, most likely as a way to make sure that "he" had found the largest land mammal of all time. The reconstructions lost weight through the 20th century, and this process continued after the show. Nowadays, some no longer believe it was the largest land mammal of all time but was surpassed by the elephant Palaeoloxodon namadicus, although it is still the tallest (and the line about being the largest land animal since the dinosaurs is still true).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- The Coming of Age story is loosely similar to the Diplodocus in Walking with Dinosaurs' "Time of the Titans", though we don't see the indricothere grow to adult size or become sexually mature (instead, we see the mother mating again and having a new calf).
- The indricothere's birth mirrors the birth of the brontothere calf in the previous episode. Both happen during a drought in Asia and their mothers are forced to fight off two gigantic, canine-like predators who would love to take the child for breakfast. The obvious difference is that the indricothere is not stillborn.
- At the species level, the indricotheres are the mammals' first attempt to exploit the sauropod niche. Although still nowhere near their size, their proportions don't look much different from small titanosaurs like Camarasaurus.
- Who's Laughing Now?: The episode ends with the indricothere calf bullying an entelodont out of his path.
- You Can't Go Home Again: The mother expells the protagonist from her side when she is about to have a new baby.
A large carnivore and the main active predator of the episode.
- Big Bad: The main antagonist of the episode.
- Bullet Time: Used when a Hyaenodon slips on the mud while chasing a young entelodont under the rain.
- Butt-Monkey: They never succeed at anything in this episode.
- Cool vs. Awesome: Their confrontation with the entelodonts. So awesome, it was chosen as the cover for the DVD release of Walking With Beasts. It makes it look like as if it was the main point of the episode, and the indricotheres where just Supporting Protagonists.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The hunt for the chalicothere, bordering on One-Hit Kill, as the Hyaenodon bites into its throat before it has time to use its Wolverine Claws.
- Heinous Hyena: Although it's not a true hyena — in fact, it's not even a true carnivoran — its name and coloration are both meant to evoke these creatures. They're also aggressive carnivores, significant threats to the episode's herbivores and important antagonists in the young indricothere's story.
- Meaningful Name: Hyaenodon means "Hyena tooth" though it isn't related to Hyenas.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Is it a dog? A hyena? A tiger? No! It's a member of the main lineage of mammalian predators that came before true carnivores replaced them, the creodonts.
- Rule of Cool: The narration says that they are as large as a rhinoceros but the only way this could be remotely true would be if they were the largest Hyaenodon ever, H. gigas, and the smallest rhino alive, the Sumatran rhinoceros. Also, their fangs are exaggerated to sabertooth status.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Having taken over the large carnivore guild from the mesonychids, it is now two Hyaenodon who pester a giant perissodactyl mother for a chance to eat her baby. However, unlike the Andrewsarchus, the Hyaenodon is also capable of jumping, chasing and hunting large ungulates by itself.
- What an Idiot!: It tries to defend its prey from the entelodonts in a rather desperate act (pooping on it) in order to hide its smell. Doesn't work at all, because the body is on plain view of them. As weird as this sounds, this is based on actual fossil evidence, and backed by observations of modern animals that also defecate on their prey when they are full but there is still meat and they want to hide it from other carnivores (either to feed on it again later, or to avoid facing competitors or predators attracted by the smell in their territory). It becomes dumb only because the Hyaenodon is surprised before it can eat.
- Who's Laughing Now?: One is shown chasing a lone young entelodont in the middle of the rain. It's not clear if it's the same Hyaenodon who was chased away by a group of entelodonts earlier. But then it slips on the mud.
An enormous, vaguely pig-like scavenger with a mean temper.
- Always a Bigger Fish: A young entelodont is chased by a Hyaenodon, but it seems that the two are equals, given a group of entelodonts were seen driving a Hyaenodon away earlier.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: They never stopped being omnivores, but growing to gigantic sizes allowed them to feast on other large ungulates.
- Beauty = Goodness: They are as ugly as mean.
- Cool vs. Awesome: Entelodonts vs. Hyaenodon!
- Dark Is Evil: They are black and they are jerks.
- Full-Boar Action: This was where the term "killer pig" came from.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The Hyaenodon is the main antagonist of the episode, but the entelodonts are powerful enough to drive it away.
- Jerkass: One of the better examples in animal fiction. They seem to relish in bullying everyone, including members of their own species.
- Lightning Bruiser: Despite its size, it is shown to be fast and nimble in the confrontation with the Hyaenodon.
- Messy Pig: Complete with Jabba Table Manners.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Giant pigs that are better at being hyenas than Hyaenodon. Alternatively, a starved hippo's head mounted on a horse's body. And with a taste for meat.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: We are shown why most animals don't prefer to get in a fight with them when two entelodonts fight each other for territory. One ends with its face literally bitten bloody.
- Noisy Nature: Spends a majority of its screen time roaring with a wide open mouth.
- No Name Given: Only ever referred as "entelodonts" rather than a genus in particular. The best match time and location-wise is Paraentelodon, but they were smaller in real life.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: The upper half of their face is red, in contrast to their black coat elsewhere. And they are portrayed as the bullies of the ecosystem.
- Rule of Cool: They appear to be even larger than the largest known entelodont, Daeodon (which in addition was North American rather than Asian).
- Scavengers Are Scum: Definitely how they're presented.
- Who's Laughing Now?: A Hyenodon chases after a younger entelodont during the rains, and the grown indricothere calf bullies a grown one out of his path at the end of the episode.
- Zerg Rush: A group gang up on a Hyaenodon, forcing it to abandon a fresh kill to them.
The main prey item of the episode, a bizarre-looking relative of horses and rhinos.
- Anachronism Stew: Chalicotherium, the creature these guys are based on, didn't appear until well after the time period that their episode is set in.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: At the receiving end on this. A Hyaenodon kills a chalicothere with a bite to the throat before it has time to react.
- Fed to Pigs: The entelodonts take over one's carcass soon after it is killed.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Walks like a gorilla, lives like a panda, has anteater claws on the front legs and hooves on the hind legs. Is actually related to horses and rhinos, as hinted by the shape of its head.
- No Name Given: Only called "chalicothere", as it is not mean to be any particular one.
- Rule of Cool: Because the genus of reference, Chalicotherium is not known from the place the episode is set in until later, the show crew handwaved their chalicothere as a close relative of Chalicotherium that is yet to be discovered.
- Wolverine Claws: Though their main victims are trees. A chalicothere doesn't even use them when attacked by a Hyaenodon (it tries though).
A small, dog-like carnivore living on the banks of the river.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Not much of a bear outside of its name.
- All There in the Manual: Referred to as "bear-dog" in the episode, identified specifically as a member of Amphicyonidae (and more specifically as based on Cynodictis) on the show's website.
- Anachronism Stew: The episode's setting is based on Mongolia's Hsanda Gol formation (33-31 million years old) but it is moved to the end of the Oligocene 25 million years ago (the end of the Oligocene was later moved further, to 23 million years ago). Hsanda Gol has Cynodictis, but this genus and all other small, dog-like bear-dogs had become extinct in Eurasia by the time of the episode, leaving larger panther-like species like Amphicyon and Ysengrinia in their wake (smaller species continued to exist in North America).
- Author's Saving Throw: Since no Cynodictis or similar animals were present in Mongolia at the time the episode is set, the species is probably meant to be one still undiscovered, like the chalicothere, hence the use of a common name.
- Death by Irony: Born in a desert, cubs die in a flood.
- Hero of Another Story: Its presence is entirely incidental.
- Mama Bear: A mother charges face front against an indricothere to keep it away from her pups. While the indricothere is a baby, it's already several times the size of the mother bear-dog.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Subverted. The mix and match is only in the name.
- No Name Given: Only ever called bear-dog, since it is not supposed to be a particular species.
- Outliving One's Offspring: All the pups die when the den collapses during the rainy season, leaving the mother alone.
Next Of Kin
A bipedal ape living in the African savanna and the protagonist of this episode.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: Though chimpanzees are no stranger to eating meat, the Australopithecus have started to scavenge the carcasses of large savanna ungulates, heralding the evolution of hominids into large game hunters.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The group rises to save Blue from a Dinofelis, after a whole episode treating him like an outcast.
- Badass Grandpa / Handicapped Badass: Grey is grey-haired and blind in one eye, yet remains leader of the group for the better part of the episode. He's probably been on top for years, and the narration implies that he could have driven off the invading group if his own had not been recently depleted by malaria. He is also beaten by Hercules because the latter uses a digging stick as a weapon; Grey prevails in an earlier fight with their bare hands only.
- Bad Boss: Grey is also quite the ass to his females and to Hercules, until the latter kicks his ass and takes over the group. Rather ironically, he is the only one to pay any attention to Blue before the ending, as well. This last bit is due to the fact that since Grey was the dominant male and thus had the right to mating with the females it is not unlikely that he is Blue's father.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Compared to modern humans, the Australopithecus males are much more taller, hairier and muscular than the females.
- Boisterous Weakling: The Australopithecus manage to scare some large animals (e.g. Ancylotherium) because their upright stance makes them appear larger than they are. Most Australopithecus internal conflicts are also ended without actual violence.
- Bowdlerize: The Primal Scene was pixellated in the American release and cut out altogether in the Australian.
- Blue, as a literal example. His mother dies of malaria, and he is nearly left behind when a rival Australopithecus gang takes the group's territory by force. Even the other australopithecine children don't want to play with him.
- The group as a whole. It is driven out of their territory by rival Australopithecus, chased off by Deinotherium (twice) just For the Lulz, and hunted by Dinofelis. Eventually, the group finds the strength to fight back at the last one.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Every time Blue tries to socialize, something happens and ruins it. Every time the troop tries to settle down and live their lives, some animal comes and ruins it... until the end.
- Chekhov's Gun: Hercules keeps in his hand the branch used to dig for tubers earlier while chasing off the vultures, and it becomes an effective weapon when he fights Grey over the carcass later.
- Chekhov's Skill: Hercules uses the skills used to drive an Ancylotherium away to chase away vultures later.
- Combat Pragmatist: Hercules. He rises his arms to increase his perceived height further and turns his digging stick into a club to defeat Grey.
- Cool Old Guy: Grey, being the oldest and the leader.
- Da Chief: Grey enforces the group's rules strictly while Hercules keeps testing their limits. This is not surprising, given that the rules are largely a defense of the boss's reproductive and feeding privileges. It eventually leads to the final fight between Grey and Hercules and Grey's downfall.
- The Dog Bites Back: To the Dinofelis, eventually. Also, Hercules to Grey at the dead zebra.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After all their hardships, the group drives off a scary predator and Blue is fully accepted by his peers.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Though they are not technically monkeys.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: The behaviors that don't look immediately human are grafted from chimpanzees.
- Frazetta Man: Zigzagged. The animators found that their own models only worked if Australopithecus walked entirely upright, instead of with the hunched back and legs of a 'missing link' stereotype. On the other hand, Australopithecus proportions are so human-like that it can be described as a human with a chimpanzee's head.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Mankind's origins were humble and far from the top of the food chain. Some might see the scenes where the australopithecines get a taste of meat and drive a Dinofelis away later as a Start of Darkness...
- Ground Punch: Done by Australopithecus during interspecies conflicts. Of course, it has no effect besides intimidation.
- Infant Immortality: Babble's child is separated from the group and finds itself at the receiving end of a charging Deinotherium. Miraculously, the Deinotherium walks around it and completely forgets about it later, allowing it to rejoin the group.
- Klingon Promotion: Hercules fights Grey to become the top male in the group, and replaces him when he concedes defeat.
- Know When To Fold Them: Australopithecus have reduced aggression compared to other primates and tend to stop a fight before physical contact. The most damage is suffered by Grey in the zebra carcass fight, but he gives up after several stick hits.
- Mama Bear: Babble, after finding out her baby was accidentally left behind and is at the mercy of the Deinotherium, instantly goes back to rescue him. It doesn't work, but still...
- Meaningful Name: Grey has grey hair. Blue is sad.
- Non-Indicative Name: Hercules isn't the strongest member of the group. Grey is. Black Eye completely lacks one and they all have the same eye color, and Babble may yell a lot but doesn't speak many languages.
- No Social Skills: At the beginning of the episode, Blue has no idea how to form bonds with other Australopithecus that aren't his dead mother. Given how political Australopithecus are, this contributes to his isolation.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Grey is easily told apart from Hercules because he has grey hair and a blind eye. Blue is told apart from the other kids because he is slightly older and taller.
- Primal Chest-Pound: Done by some males when the two Australopithecus troops have a territorial dispute, and also when the Australopithecus turn the tables on the Dinofelis.
- Riches to Rags: Implied. Blue's mother was the dominant female before she died of malaria. Without her to vouch for him, Blue is relegated to the bottom of the group.
- Rule of Cool: The scene where one Australopithecus walks on his knuckles and waddles, only to stand up when the narrator reveals that this species walks on two feet.
- Science Marches On: There is increasing evidence that Australopithecus was not the first dedicated bipedal ape with the newer, more complete finds of the older genus Ardipithecus showing strong evidence of it, of whom was a forest dweller so bipedalism likely came before living in the savannah.
- The Usurper: Another Australopithecus group takes advantage of Grey's group's weakness and drives them out of their territory. That said, since Grey's group was weakened by malaria, which develops in still waters, it is likely that the usurper group will get also weakened from it.
- Who's Laughing Now?: After losing one of their members to Dinofelis, they make it run away the second time it tries to attack them, by throwing rocks at it.
- You Can't Go Home Again: The group is expelled from their territory by a rival Australopithecus troop and must find a new home.
- Younger Than They Look: Grey is thirty years old; Blue is three.
A lion-sized saber-toothed cat, and the main antagonist of the episode.
- Big Bad: The main predator of the episode and the Australopithecus.
- Bullet Time: The frame slows when it runs towards the Australopithecus group.
- Cats Are Mean: Averted. It's presented as just a predator trying to feed itself, although still a constant danger to the Australopithecus clan.
- Crapsaccharine World: The Dinofelis den is in the perfect place for an Australopithecus troop — there is shade, clean water, numerous and varied food to sustain them for all seasons (fruit, roots, eggs, meat), no dangerous herbivores like Deinotherium and no other carnivores. The problem, and likely reason there are no other Australopithecus there already, is that there is a Dinofelis living there.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Its appearance and behavior is very similar to a modern African leopard (Which was also far more likely to be the main predator for early Hominids.)
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dinofelis means "terrible cat" or "terrifying cat".
- Panthera Awesome: Undeniable, being powerful big cats.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Appears as a villain because it hunts Australopithecus; in the next episode, another sabertooth cat, Smilodon gets a protagonic role and more sympathy.
- Rule of Cool: The idea that Dinofelis was a specialized primate killer is merely conjectural- evidence suggests that leopards filled that role instead. There is also no evidence that Dinofelis perched its prey on trees, or even that Dinofelis climbed trees at all. The reason leopards do this today is to prevent larger carnivores like lions from stealing their kills; Dinofelis coexisted with lions and a larger sabertooth, Homotherium, but was itself larger and heavier than a leopard.
- Science Marches On: No, it wasn't a specialized primate hunter who was too slow to catch grazing ungulates. In fact, grazers made up most, or all of its diet, while primates were likely marginal or ignored altogether.
- To Serve Man: It is the main predator of Australopithecus.
- Who's Laughing Now?: At the receiving end of this, once the Australopithecus gain the courage to fight back.
A distant relative of elephants, though taller, lankier and specialized in browsing treetops like a giraffe.
- Ax-Crazy: A musth-striken young male encountered by the australopithecines is one of the only creatures that can be described as this in the series.
- Barbaric Bully: You'd think a vegetarian invulnerable to predators may not waste so much energy picking on animals that could never be a threat to it, but you'd be wrong.
- Cow Tools: Nobody knows what the downward pointing tusks were for in reality.
- Cruel Elephant: They are not the least honorable, being sadistic bullies more than anything. The irony is that everything they do is actually based on modern elephant behaviour.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Of the African elephant, but with any Honorable Elephant traits removed.
- Jerkass: Even the non-musth striken youngsters and females seem to love bullying the Australopithecus for no reason.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Deinotherium literally means "terrible beast" or "terrifying beast".
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: It is a complete asshole compared to the mammoths of the last episode, yet the behaviour of both is closely patterned after modern elephants. The Deinotherium is an antagonist to the Australopithecus, so it displays bad elephant behaviour, while the mammoth is a protagonist, so it displays good elephant behaviour and the more questionable one is downplayed by it happening to larger animals that can actually take it.
- Rhino Rampage: It is an elephant relative, but its behaviour fits.
- Rule of Cool: Obviously, there is no way to know if musth happened in non-elephantid proboscideans.
- Science Marches On:
- Musth likely has nothing to do with mating, but with helping elephants fight each other in times of scarcity.
- The short trunk is based on an old idea that Deinotherium's trunk was less developed than in modern elephants because the skull lacked attachments for some trunk muscles. It was discovered that modern elephants don't have these attachments in the skull, either, but in other trunk muscles. So the evidence once touted for Deinotherium having a short, primitive trunk may actually be the best evidence that it had a long, advanced trunk instead.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: Acts as a one-time challenge in the Australopithecus migration from their lost territory to the Crapsaccharine World that is the Dinofelis hunting grounds.
- Would Hurt a Child: In its frenzy, the Deinotherium may attack anything.
The last surviving chalicothere. It lacks the anteater-like claws of previous ones and serves a small role in the episode.
- Gentle Giant: Like all chalicotheres.
- Last of Its Kind: The last calicothere species in existence.
- Lovable Coward: Is easily scared off the australopithecines, despite them not having a chance of hurting them.
- Science Marches On: It wasn't actually the last chalicothere! Nestoritherium survived in China and Myammar for a further million years after Ancylotherium went extinct in Africa.
- Strong Family Resemblance: It is immediately recognizable as a relative of the chalicothere in "Land of Giants", despite missing the Wolverine Claws, and was probably modified from the same model.
The last and largest of the saber-toothed cats, and the main protagonist of the episode.
- Anachronism Stew: Smilodon populator evolved over 200,000 years after the time this episode was set in. Several other species depicted are also anachronistic, although not their genera.
- Amazon Brigade: The females hunt and raise their cubs together.
- Artistic License Paleontology:
- Their behavior, which was bluntly copied from extant African lions. Most notably, the females are seen chasing down Macrauchenia, being able to do sharp turns while running. Smilodon was an ambush predator that could only run in very short bursts of speed; its short tail would have made it very unbalanced in a high speed chase.
- Smilodon males and females were similar in size and built, making the lion harem-style pack even more unlikely (a wolf-like social life has been proposed based on remains from Rancho La Brea, but it is controversial still).
- Attributing Smilodon populator's extinction to climate change wiping out its prey is at least odd. South America was stable for the last million years (to the point this episode is the only in the series to be filmed in the claimed location) and S. populator survived through the whole cycle of ice ages before going extinct when humans colonized South America. This episode could just as well been set after the mammoth one; they likely only set it before to make the terror birds less of an anachronism and for the powerful last shot in "Mammoth Journey" to be the end of the series.
- Babies Ever After: Half-Tooth has a new litter in the last scene of the episode, to replace the one that was slaughtered by the brothers.
- Badass Crew : The pride/pack is the most efficient killing machine in the plain of its era. However it's later zig-zagged due to the fact it doesn't do much to defend their young from the brothers and quickly runs away without giving a fight when their leader is killed by a Megatherium.
- Badass Grandpa: Half-tooth, which is older than the brothers, puts a fight against the two at the same time and loses, but comes back and defeats the remaining brother in a one-on-one fight.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The brothers who usurp Half-Tooth are the main antagonists. Unlike most examples from the show, they're not predators of the protagonist; the "hero" is another Smilodon.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Not as much as other examples, but males are noticeably larger and have short lion-like manes.
- Book-Ends: The episode ends with Half-Tooth having another litter, and taking care of the kids while the females hunt Macrauchenia.
- Decapitation Presentation: One of Half-Tooth's cubs is decapitated by the brothers. The other is never seen, but it's dead too.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Half-Tooth gets one after fighting the two brothers, and has new cubs to replace the ones that were killed.
- Eats Babies: Zigzagged. Half-tooth eats a Macrauchenia baby, that was killed by a Phorusrhacos, but Half-Tooth was already stalking before the bird appeared.
- Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: The behavior is copied from African lions, ignoring contrary evidence if necessary.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: The females will defend their cubs while they are alive, but submit to the brothers as soon as they are killed. They are also not loyal to Half-Tooth or the brothers. If the pack's male changes, so be it.
- Green-Eyed Monster: How the brothers are portrayed in their introduction.
- Handicapped Badass: Half-tooth may have a broken saber, but that barely slows him down.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: Not only did they plagiarize lions, the narrator actually hails Smilodon as "the most powerful big cat of all time". Yet there were lions (Panthera spealea) and faux-lions (P. atrox) that were larger and more likely to be social than Smilodon. Smilodon and its fellow sabertooth Homotherium even played second fiddle to P. atrox in North America. Panthera replaced and possibly drove to extinction most sabertooth cat species over the world.
- Inferred Holocaust: At the end, the narrator claims that climate change will cause the extinction of the Smilodon's prey, driving Smilodon itself extinct.
- Informed Attribute: Half-Tooth is supposedly larger and stronger than most Smilodon males, but this is hard to notice.
- It's Personal: You can almost hear Half-Tooth say this when he finds his dead cub... or what remains of it.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Half-tooth is quick to realize that he can't beat both of the brothers, and reluctantly withdraws. The brothers won't do it, which leads to their deaths.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Defied by the males tendency to kill all cubs after taking over a pride.
- Mega Neko: It's the largest species of sabertooth cat to have ever lived.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Half-Tooth has a broken saber, making him easier to tell apart from the brothers.
- Papa Wolf: In the beginning of the episode, Half-Tooth chases away a pair of terror birds attempting to eat one of its babies.
- Panthera Awesome: Big cats with big teeth. What are you expecting? There is a reason it is one of the most memorable creature of the show.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: The "villain" brothers are just doing what Half-Tooth did years ago (and eventually does again, when they are reduced to one).
- Rule of Cool: Besides all the Artistic License Paleontology, there is the scene where the pride's younger females decide to test their hunting abilities on a Nigh Invulnerable Doedicurus, rather than choosing a viable and less dangerous target.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The "Walking with Beasts" logo is crossed by claw marks. At the end of the intro, a male Smilodon claws it and roars to the camera.
- Seldom-Seen Species: There are many examples in the series, but it begs a mention that this is Smilodon populator, a larger, lion-sized species that lived in more open ground in South America, rather than the stock Smilodon fatalis from North America.
- Series Mascot: In the same way Tyrannosaurus was one for Walking with Dinosaurs.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: For the brothers: both die in the end after their short, violent reign and do not pass their genes down, unless those cubs Half-Tooth nurtures at the end aren't his.
- Spared by the Adaptation: The second brother in the book, who simply runs away after his brother is dead. In the show, he is mortally injured by Half Tooth and devoured by the terror birds.
- Siblings in Crime: The two brothers that drive Half-tooth from his pride.
- The Usurper: The brothers to Half-Tooth, Smilodon to Phorusrhacos.
- The Worf Effect: Half Tooth is driven away by the brothers. Later turned around when a Megatherium kills one of them.
- What Could Have Been: There is plenty of promotional art with male Smilodon, including one with a broken fang, that don't have lion-like manes. It seems the manes were included very late in development.
- Would Hurt a Child: The brothers kill Half-Tooth's cubs to make the females mate with them and have their children.
- You Can't Go Home Again: After being defeated by the brothers, Half-Tooth abandons his former territory in the plains and heads for the closed forest outside. However, the death of one of the brothers allows him to return.
A large, flightless "terror bird". The former apex predator of South America, now dethroned by Smilodon.
- All There in the Manual: They are only called "terror birds" by the narrator.
- Anachronism Stew: Phorusrhacos became extinct 13 million years ago, and terror birds as a whole disappeared around 1'8 million years ago. 800,000 years before this episode takes place.
- Artistic License Paleontology: In addition, terror birds would have had no trouble coexisting as a predator with sabretooths, as they were much faster and hunted faster prey. In fact, they were the only South American carnivore along with opossums to migrate northward successfully during the Great American Interchange. This is mentioned by the narrator, despite the constant theme of terror birds being outcompeted by cats.
- Circling Vultures: The wounded brother is pursued by phorusrhacids after he is usurped. Guess how it ends for him...
- Eats Babies: Introduced chasing a Smilodon cub; one later hunts a young Macrauchenia, but it is stolen by the Smilodon Half-Tooth.
- Feathered Fiend: And considerably more fiendish in Real Life.
- Historical Downgrade: One of the most severely underrated predators of the entire series, being depicted as a cowardly scavenger instead of the lightening-fast apex predator capable of competing with any mammalian carnivore it really was.
- Informed Species: The actual species is probably meant to be Titanis, the last surviving terror bird, but the Phorusrhacos name was used because Phorusrhacos was South American rather than North American.
- Lightning Bruiser: It appears out of nowhere to kill a young Macrauchenia.
- Riches to Rags: They are portrayed as having lost their spot at the top of the food chain with the arrival of Smilodon.
- Scavengers Are Scum: Presented as scavengers, making them less sympathetic than the equally carnivorous Smilodon. This despite the fact it was not a scavenger and was just as good a predator as its rival in-universe. They are seen killing a juvenile Macrauchenia at least once, though.
- Science Marches On:
- Zig-zagged in relation to wether their presence is an anachronism or not. When the show was made, Titanis was thought to have survived until 15,000 years ago; the beds where the youngest fossils were found were later redated to two million years ago. Yet even later, terror bird fossils were unearthed in Uruguay and claimed to be from the late Pleistocene too. But other authors dispute these findings. In any case, these unnamed "last terror birds" were similar in size to Psilopterus, one of the smallest terror birds and only slightly larger than modern seriemas, rather than giants like Titanis and Phorusrhacos.
- Although hard to see in the show, they have a long, functional claw on each wing. This was based on a theory about Titanis that was debunked four years after the show came out.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Gastornis, which is why they are subjected to The Worf Effect. Ironically, since Gastornis has been confirmed as a vegetarian, terror birds have been left as one of the few known flightless hunting birds.
- The Worf Effect: Most of their screentime involves them being chased off by Smilodon.
The standard prey animal of the episode. A camel-sized, mixed grazer-browser belonging to a group of ungulates unique to South America.
- Butt-Monkey: Serves the episode simply as prey for Smilodon and terror birds (and possibly the Megatherium).
- Don't Go in the Woods: A mother Macrauchenia and her calf (foal?) get separated from the herd and walk right into a stalking sabertooth and a stalking terror bird.
- Last of His Kind: The last of the Litopterns, South American ungulates that evolved in isolation since the Paleocene.
- Monster Munch: They are weird, they are preyed on, and that's about it.
- Mix-and-Match Creatures: A llama-like animal with a tapir-like head. Ironically, while both existed in South America in this time and still do today, they are not related to South American native Macrauchenia, but are recent immigrants from North America instead. Their feet are rhinoceros-like, which never colonized South America.
- Science Marches On: After a century and a half of mystery, DNA finally revealed Macrauchenia (and also Prehistoric Park's Toxodon, and all other South American ungulates by extension) were very distant relatives of perissodactyls and true ungulates as a result.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The approach to keep the Smilodon sympathetic, is to make this completely dull, and hard to sympathize with.
An elephant-sized ground sloth. It is the largest animal in the episode and in the South American continent.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: They spend most of their day munching on tree leaves, but in one scene one decides that it'd rather have what the Smilodon are having. The exact thing, that is.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A sloth the size of an elephant, that eats both plants... and meat. And it takes no shits from anyone.
- Black Bead Eyes: In contrast to every other mammal in the series. If anything, they remind the most of Physogaleus, a shark. It contributes to making it unsettling despite also looking like a giant teddy bear.
- Big Eater: Seen constantly feeding, probably due to how large it is and how poor most of its diet is.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Think a giant sloth does not sound intimidating? Wait till you see it kill a Smilodon with one strike!
- Deus ex Machina: A random Megatherium kills one of the Smilodon brothers before they reproduce or Half-Tooth gets too weak or old, allowing him to make an unlikely comeback.
- The Dreaded: Despite its non-threatening appearance, even the Smilodon do not dare to mess with it. And for good reason, it kills one of the brothers with a single swipe from its claws.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: The killing of the Smilodon is based on a controversial theory that has been called "fanciful" by critics.
- Killer Rabbit: Does not look formidable at all, but is a capable killer.
- Mighty Glacier: As a super strong sloth, this is to be expected.
- Noisy Nature: Constantly makes bellowing noises.
- One-Hit Kill: Kills one of the brothers this way with it's huge claws.
- Rule of Cool: There is no evidence of scavenging behavior, kleptoparasitism, or any carnivorism at all.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The more we know about therizinosaurs, the more it looks like ground sloths were deliberately imitating them.
- Wolverine Claws: Like modern sloths, but enlarged accordingly.
A car-sized armadillo relative armed with a flail-like tail.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: The tail even has longer spikes than most examples... but it is entirely organic. Oh, and it's like a spiked club, to boot.
- Book-Ends: The same path, shot from the same POV, that is used by a defeated male Doedicurus after a fight, is later walked down by a female Doedicurus and what are probably his rival's children.
- Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Two Doedicurus use their flails to fight for the right to mate with a female while she watches.
- Epic Flail: Should be obvious by now.
- Genius Bonus: Though the narrator makes no mention of it, the Doedicurus has four young. This is a reference to how nine-banded armadillos always have four young per litter, who are always genetic clones of the other.
- Mighty Glacier: They are invulnerable to predators, so they don't bother running.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Someone stuck a mammalian head and legs in an ankylosaur, and gave it a stegosaur thagomizer for good measure.
- Nigh Invulnerable: In an aversion of Armour Is Useless, the cats can do absolutely nothing to it.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To ankylosaurs.
A small South American horse that appears only in the accompanying books. Like Smilodon, it descends from recent North American colonizers.
- Alternate Continuity/What Could Have Been: The book Walking with Beasts: A Prehistoric Safari describes the scene with Half-Tooth and a terror bird stalking the same Macracuhenia calf at the same time, as them stalking a Hippidion foal instead. The only image, however, shows two Phorusrhacos struggling for the foal's carcass. Both imply that a Hippidion model was worked on at some point before being cut.
- Informed Species:
- The foal appears to have three toes, but Hippidion only had one. This is either because the foal's model was modified from Propalaeotherium and left unfinished, or a confusion born from the fact that, at the time, Hippidion was believed to be a descendant of the three-toed Pliohippus despite being one-toed (DNA later showed a closer relationship between Hippidion and Equus than expected, despite also confirming them as separate genera).
- Inexplicably, The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life claims that it is a Smilodon cub, even though it is clearly not.
- Monster Munch: Only there to be eaten by Smilodon and Phorusrhacos, which made subsuming its role into Macrauchenia very easy.
- No Name Given: Only ever called "horse" or "hippidiform horse". All other geni of once-called "hippidiform" horses have since been synonymized into Hippidion, rendering this genus its only possible identity.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: There is a small horse-like animal who does nothing but get distracted, run for its life and get killed by a giant flightless bird. Hello, Propalaeot... err, Hippidion!
Oh, come on, you know this one! The main protagonist of the episode.
- All There in the Manual: The species is the most famous one, Mammuthus primigenius.
- Always Someone Better: They used to be Nigh Invulnerable to predators... until hominids came along.
- Amazon Brigade: The herd consists entirely of females and their subadult children.
- Badass Adorable: It's also basically a big fluffy elephant.
- Disney Villain Death: Two are forced by Neanderthals to fall off a cliff. One survives... briefly.
- Distant Finale: The end flashes to a British Museum 30,000 years later, where a life model of a mammoth and a Paleolithic mammoth statuette are exhibited.
- Fate Worse than Death: One is forced to watch her herd give up on her and continue their march while she's trapped in ice and surrounded by hungry, opportunistic predators. Another is driven off a cliff by Neanderthals... and survives to see them approach with spears while she can't do anything about it.
- Honorable Elephant: More than the Deinotherium at least. When a male engages in the same "step out of my way" behavior, the negative effect is avoided because it is directed at larger animals that can take it, like bison, or animals who weren't very sympathetic to begin with, like man-eating cave lions.
- Inferred Holocaust: At the very least, the herd is going to suffer the early, violent death of the matriarch.
- Kill It with Fire: Indirectly. Like all animals, they are terrified of fire. The Neanderthals use torches to drive a couple over a cliff, which is what actually kills them (or not).
- Mama Bear:
- The mammoth left behind with her calf is very defensive of her, protecting it from lions and risking her own safety by losing the herd for its sake.
- Given how elephant herds work (and we know mammoth herds worked), the matriarch is likely the mother or Cool Big Sis of all the other females.
- Mammoths Mean Ice Age: It is the Ice Age episode, alright, and it stars mammoths. It takes place in a glacial maximum too (though not THE glacial maximum, that'd be 15,000 years later).
- Mighty Glacier: Big, strong but not super fast.
- Non-Standard Character Design: The old mammoth bull is far larger than the females (and even other males) and has tusks so long, they almost draw circles over themselves. While there is some Rule of Cool, it is justified because proboscideans continue growing while they are alive.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: One of the mammoths survives falling off a cliff, although with devastating injuries.
- The Precursors: Newly arrived Cro-Magnons seem fascinated with mammoths. They build huts with their bones, imitate their "mosquito-proof mascara", carve mammoth figurines in bone, and use their trails to migrate south. All while trying not to disturb them.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Their behavior is entirely elephant-like, like Deinotherium. But while Deinotherium was a villain, the mammoths come near Too Good for This Sinful Earth in their protagonic episode.
- The Quest: Every winter, the lead herd walks from the North Sea (which is dry in this time) to a hidden valley in the Swiss Alps. Along the way, they meet other mammoths and challenges.
- The Shangri-La: The mammoths wintering valley.
- Xenofiction: The story is told from the POV of the mammoths, despite two hominid species being there as well.
The largest deer to ever live, with the largest set of antlers ever (even when accounting for proportion).
- Awesome, but Impractical: The antlers prevent them from taking refuge in wooden areas. This gets a large male killed by humans.
- Bambification: Averted. They are depicted as animals like anyone else.
- Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Two males fight for the right to reproduce, but they get crashed by humans just after they are finished.
- Failed a Spot Check: The males are supposed to have been surprised because they were too busy fighting. However, in the earlier summer scene it seemed liked the Megaloceros didn't care about the humans getting near, and could have been hunted at any time.
- The Marvelous Deer: With antlers that massive, it's hard not to see them this way.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The less fatigued male jumps over one of the attackers and saves its life. The other cannot, and is killed.
- Shown Their Work: The hair coloration is based on contemporary cave paintings.
You ought to know this one as well. Appears in a minor role.
- All There in the Manual: The species name, Coelodonta antiquitatis.
- Blind Mistake: It has extremely poor sight, but its fine sense of smell makes up for it.
- Dumb Muscle: Rhinos were never known for their intelligence.
- Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Two males duel for the right to reproduce in the mammoth's refuge at the Alps.
- Disproportionate Retribution: One charges at a Neanderthal who was picking firewood — and also tried to not be noticed by the rhino, no less — right after smelling him. On the other hand, given what Neanderthals can do to mammoths, it's actually wise of the rhino to not take any chances.
- Hidden Depths: Though we are led to believe they are violent monsters, prone to Rhino Rampage, when they duel for females, they do it peacefully.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: If you are not actually familiar with them, it can be a surprise to see what is essentially a white rhinoceros walking in a mammoth skin.
- Mundane Utility: The flattened horn is just as good to shovel snow and dirt.
- Rhino Rampage: Goes full into this the moment it detects a Neanderthal nearby. Rhinos are usually not that aggressive (but you should avoid them still).
- Shown Their Work: The darker abdominal hair is based on cave paintings.
A northern Eurasian subspecies of the modern African lion, adapted to a snowy environment.
- All There in the Manual: Called Panthera spelaea or Panthera leo spealea.
- Artistic License Paleontology: They reused the Dinofelis model for the lion, recoloring it white and giving it a small mane and long tail. This results in an anatomically inaccurate cave lion with typical sabertooth features like protruding saber teeth, large shoulders and arms, and a forward arched back.
- What Could Have Been: And by that we mean worse. Several promo images show it with the Dinofelis's short, bobcat-like tail. For heavens sake! It was a lion!
- Cats Are Mean: A pair eats a human at one point. Another stalks a baby mammoth.
- Eats Babies: Tries to, at least.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Invoked, then justified by the narrator. A lion may look out of place in 21st century Europe, but it is common in the Paleolithic.
- Palette Swap: The Dinofelis model, just with a light grey coat and long tail (one of the promotional images even lacks the latter).
- Panthera Awesome: Still manages to be memorable.
- Science Marches On: With the discovery of sandy-colored cubs in the Siberian permafrost, it looks even less likely that the adults would switch to white or light-grey in the winter..
- To Serve Man: They eat a human at one point.
- Shown Their Work: Unlike African lions, they have very short, almost non-noticeable manes and appear either solitary or in pairs. This is consistent with cave paintings and the known behavior of non-tropical lion populations (Cape, Atlas, Asian), all extinct today or critically endangered.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Its part is brief and inconsequential compared to other cats like Smilodon and Dinofelis.
One of two hominid species living in Europe in this time, appearing in a small role.
- All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: Averted. There are two human species, only one of them is Neanderthal. And they aren't shown in caves, although they take refuge there in the winter.
- All There in the Manual: The species name, Homo neanderthalensis.
- Apocalypse How: To the point of being an Endangered Species at the time of the episode. The causes continue to be very debated.
- Gender Is No Object: Both Neanderthal men and women take part in the mammoth hunt, and in equal conditions. This is in contrast with the Cro-Magnons, where we only see men hunting.
- Genius Bruiser: Though not as intelligent as the Cro-Magnon, they use tactics and technology to slaughter the mammoths and have culture and language.
- Glamour Failure: Not a potent glamor as it consisted only in staying still and trusting the woolly rhino's poor eyesight to not notice him, but it was ruined anyway, due to the rhino's sense of smell.
- Hero Killer: They are the only creature to kill a mammoth in the episode. They do it twice, and one of them is the herd's matriarch, no less.
- Hidden Depths: More intelligent than they seem to be.
- Human Subspecies: Subverted. They were considered a subspecies once, but have been confirmed as a separate species (although one close enough for limited interbreeding).
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: They use heavy spears (of sharpened wood rather than pointed) to deliver the killing blow up close — but interestingly, they don't have throwing spears.
- Inferred Holocaust: They'll be gone completely in 2000 years.
- The Juggernaut: They aren't Nigh Invulnerable but they can take damage that would kill a modern human.
- Kill It with Fire: They use this to hunt mammoths, coupled with Disney Villain Death.
- Made of Iron: And how. They could take a direct charge from a woolly rhino and leave with a few broken ribs. They were thicker and hardier than our species of homo, and were found with injuries consistent with rodeo clowns.
- Medieval Stasis: Compared to Cro-Magnons, they are slow to adopt new technologies and adapt to changes, which is leading them to extinction.
- Pelts of the Barbarian: In contrast to the Cro-Magnons, they wear less elaborate clothing, with hairs sticking out, and don't have the sewing needle.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Because of their proximity to humans, the show used human actors wearing face prothesis and makeup to recreate them, rather than CGI. They should have bigger arm muscles, though.
- Science Marches On: The interpretation of the Jersey cliffs as places used by Neanderthals to kill mammoths by driving them over the edge has been since questioned, with the possible explanation that the bones just rolled there naturally. However, the presence of cutting marks on the bones doesn't rule out that the bones rolled there after the Neanderthals hunted the mammoths somewhere else.
- Stealth-Based Mission: Picking firewood becomes one when a Neanderthal realizes that he's unwittingly walked onto a woolly rhinoceros's path.
Our very own hunter-gatherer ancestors, only a few thousands of years after they arrived in Europe.
- All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: Averted. They're not Neanderthals, and they are as removed from a media caveman stereotype as they could be. For one, they don't live in caves, and on first glance you could mistake them for modern mountain luddites.
- All There in the Manual: The species is Homo sapiens.
- Blade on a Stick: Their killing spears, unlike the Neanderthals, have stone tips.
- Hidden Depths: They make art, too!
- Humans Advance Swiftly: The Cro-Magnons' main strength is their inventive and quickly advancing technology, as this allows them to colonize even areas they aren't suited to biologically without having to wait for slower, random evolutionary changes to appear.
- Humans Are Average: Seems to be An Aesop of the entire series. One is killed by hungry mountain lions offscreen and treated no sadder than if it was another animal. The last scene reminds the viewer that all species go extinct in the end.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Averted. They are shown as just another predator, and as far as the mammoths are concerned they are less threatening than the cave lions and neanderthals.
- Leitmotif: Significantly, the first major scene involving our direct ancestors hunting includes distinct human voices and vocals, for the first time in the series (and in a Walking With... miniseries in general).
- Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast: Men hunt, women (implicitly) gather.
- People of Hair Color: In an example of Shown Their Work, all the Cro-Magnons are dark haired (while the Neanderthals include some fair-haired), dark eyed and look vaguely Mediterranean or Eurasian despite living in northwestern Europe. This is because blonde hair and other eye colors had not evolved in humans yet (red hair is unclear).
- Rain of Arrows: Javelins, actually, since bows have not been invented yet. They are the only species to use them.
- Science Marches On: Turns out the Cro-Magnons may have been even darker, back then and for tens of thousands of years afterward.
- The Smurfette Principle: Only one female appears at the summer scene and doesn't take part in the hunt.
- Techno Wizard: They are the smartest and most technologically advanced species portrayed. Our own.
- Took a Level in Badass: They specialize in small game, but when pressed during the winter they rise to take on a fully grown bull Megaloceros.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Though unmentioned, dogs were (possibly) starting to be domesticated around this time. Maybe the lone wolf stalking the unfortunate mammoth in the beginning, alongside the humans, was a reference to this.
- The Usurper: To the Neanderthals. They came recently from Africa and are thriving, while the locally-evolved Neanderthals are facing extinction.