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Recap / Primal 2019 E 3 A Cold Death

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In a harsh and cold land, an elderly member of a migrating mammoth herd becomes separated from the group in a blinding snowstorm, and falls victim to an attack by Spear and Fang. Spear takes a good portion of the slain mammoth's fur and meat and fashions a crude sled from its bones and its single tusk. The duo finds shelter from the freezing storm in a cave. That night the mammoth herd finds the old mammoth's butchered remains and matriarch realizes that the elder's remaining tusk is missing. Back in the cave, Spear is taken back to a past memory of teaching his son to hunt, when suddenly the cave begins to shudder as the mammoths try to collapse it on them. The mammoths nearly kill the duo, until Spear brandishes the tusk against the mammoths in rage, causing them to pause. Spear realizes what he must do: he hands up the tusk and the leader takes it, and then the mammoths leave quietly. Much later, the mammoths arrive to a gorge full of skeletons, where they place the tusk in the center of a clearing and gently stroke it with their trunks as a form of funeral.


Tropes featured in this episode include:

  • Animals Not to Scale:
    • Woolly mammoths are smaller than African elephants in reality, but the ones in the episode dwarf Fang. This is a common mistake with woolly mammoths in fiction.
    • The Syndyoceras in the flashback scene is around the size of a large moose. In real life it was as big as a medium-sized deer or antelope, weighing about 60 kg.
  • Anti-Villain: The mammoths pursue and attack Spear and Fang relentlessly, but that is because they killed and ate an elder from their herd and even took its tusk, so they cannot even mourn it properly.
  • Behemoth Battle: Fang versus several mammoths. As the mammoths are fighting together and very powerful individually, Spear and Fang are at a great disadvantage against them.
  • Due to the Dead: The mammoth herd show great respect for the dead elder. See Shown Their Work below.
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  • Elephant Graveyard: Shown at the end of the episode, where the mammoths take the remains of their elderly herd member.
  • Exposed to the Elements: What kicks off the plot. In the cold and snowy environment Spear needs a lot more protection than his loincloth provides, so he kills an elderly mammoth to fashion warming clothing out of her hide.
  • Eye Scream: Spear finishes off the elder by bashing its eye with a large stone. The matriarch gets an eye clawed during the vicious battle with Fang. Subverted, however, in that both times the eye is left intact.
  • Heel Realization: Spear eventually realizes that the mammoths are only attacking them out of grief and revenge for one of their own, and he gives up the tusk after the matriarch looks pleadingly at him when he brandishes the tusk against them.
  • Honorable Elephant: The mammoths are suggested to be highly intelligent and noble creatures.
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  • Mammoths Mean Ice Age: Even though the majority of the show take place in tropical jungles or savannas, in this episode Fang and Spear end up in a snowy wasteland where they encounter mammoths. How they ended up there and what they are doing there is never explained.
  • Savage Wolves: Great fanged wolves are shown feeding on the remains of the elderly mammoth.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: In the flashback, Spear and his son are hunting what appear to be a (massively oversized) Syndyoceras.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Elephants in real life have been observed engaging in "mourning" behaviour, crowding around dead elephants and fondling the bones with their trunks, much like the mammoths in this episode. Here is some footage of this behaviour.
    • Real elephants do have a concept of avenging herd members, much like the mammoths in this episode.
    • Unlike what is expected with reptiles, Fang is able to stay active in the cold with no signs of slowing down or entering into torpor. Non-avian dinosaurs in real life were warm-blooded, to the point some thrived in cold climates during the Cretaceous period.


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