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Series / Walking with Monsters

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Walking with Monsters is the 2005 prequel to the Walking with Dinosaurs series, and is similarly narrated by Kenneth Branagh. Focusing on life during the Paleozoic era, Monsters showcases the evolution of numerous forms of life and their battle for dominance over the planet. Unlike its predecessors, Walking with Monsters covers multiple time periods within a single episode.

  • Water Dwellers:
    • Chengjiang, China (530 MYA) - Following the Cambrian explosion, Anomalocaris, the world's first superpredator, dominates the seas.
    • South Wales, UK (418 MYA) - A school of Cephalaspis swim upstream to spawn. However, they are being hunted by a group of Brontoscorpio, one of the first creatures to walk on land.
    • Pennsylvania, USA (360 MYA) - It's mating season for the Hynerpeton, and the reliance on remaining close to the water puts them in the path of aquatic predators.
  • Reptile's Beginnings:
    • Kansas, USA (300 MYA) - A giant Mesothelae spider searches for a new nest in the massive coal forests of the Carboniferous.
    • Bromacker, Germany (280 MYA) - A mother Dimetrodon must feed herself and build a nest for her eggs, all while avoiding her cannibalistic peers.
  • Clash of Titans:
    • Siberia (250 MYA) - All the continents have combined into one and the vast desert conditions wreak havoc on the ecosystem, paving way for the biggest mass extinction event in the history of Earth.
    • Antarctica (248 MYA) - A large herd of Lystrosaurus migrate in their search for food while Euparkeria sets the stage for the next big players in evolution, the dinosaurs.


This work provides examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: The last half of the third episode takes place shortly after the Permian extinction.
  • Always a Bigger Fish:
    • The huge eurypterid Pterygotus killing the alleged Big Bad of the episode, Brontoscorpio.
    • Literally with the huge fish Hyneria swallowing a prehistoric shark whole. This doesn't save the amphibian the shark was pursuing, as Hyneria immediately starts hunting it too, and only escapes it by making it to land.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The Cephalaspis featured in the Silurian segment is only known from the later Devonian Period, while the orthocones featured had already become extinct by the time the segment is set.
    • The large amphibian featured in the Carboniferous is identified as Proterogyrinus in supplementary material, but this genus had become extinct in real life some twenty million years before the segment is set.
    • The gorgonopsids (that are clearly based on Inostrancevia) and Scutosaurus had already become extinct in Siberia by the end of the Permian, as they're only known from the Wuchiapingian stage, while the extinction began near the end of the Changhsingian. In real life, Changhsingian strata of the area shows they were replaced at that point by therocephalians and dicynodonts respectively.
    • In the Early Triassic segment, the Euparkeria is only known from slightly younger strata, while the therocephalians, although unnamed, are clearly based on Euchambersia, which is only known from the Permian.
    • Rhinesuchus is an In-Universe example, as it's depicted as a relic from the Permian that is dying out.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: The mistakes about ancestor -> descendant relationship: the jawless, armoured Cephalaspis becoming a primitive amphibian missing two passages (jawed armoured fish and non-armoured lobe-finned fish), and the early lizard-like Petrolacosaurus (portrayed as the "first reptile") wrongly becoming an Edaphosaurus (a Dimetrodon relative, thus a mammal ancestor). Another example is Euparkeria mentioned as the ancestor of all the dinosaurs (it was only a distant relative). And chasmatosaurs were not the ancestors of crocodiles and alligators, and perhaps they weren't even aquatic as shown in the program.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Meganeura, Brontoscorpio, Arthropleura, Mesothelae, and all the other arthropods in this spinoff.
  • Bookends: The final section of the third episode, covering the early Triassic, has similar creatures to the first Walking with Dinosaurs episode, which covered the late Triassic. It has a Lystrosaurus to WWDs Placerias, Euparkeria to WWDs Coelophysis, and the chasmatosaur and therocephalian resemble the Postosuchus and cynodonts in appearance, if not behavior. Euparkeria even has a similar color pattern to the Coelophysis seen in the first episode.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Breaks the Fourth Wall rather often, having creatures walk up to and often interact with the 'camera'. And occasionally leave spit on the lens.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dimetrodon's distaste for dung, which a hatchling exploits to make itself unappetizing when pursued by a cannibal adult.
  • Crapsack World: The late Permian.
  • Darker and Edgier: Has a scarier edge to the fight for survival than Dinosaurs and Beasts.
  • Death by Sex: The male Hynerpeton gets eaten by a Hyneria right after it mates. In an interesting subversion, this only happens because it failed to mate the previous night, so in a way, it's a case of "death by belated sex".
  • Death of a Child: A juvenile Edaphosaurus gets eaten by a Dimetrodon, a bunch of baby Dimetrodon get eaten by the adults, and a mesothelae spider butchers an entire nest of Petrolacosaurus, save for the few that got away.
  • Eats Babies: The Dimetrodons. And yes, that includes their own kind.
    • This also includes their own babies as, after weeks of protecting the eggs to the point of near starvation, the mother joins in hunting her newly hatched offspring.
  • Expy: Plenty of it.
    • The Lystrosaurus/Proterosuchus scene is copied to a T from documentaries featuring wildebeest dying in mass when crossing rivers full of crocodiles. The first lystrosaur even dives in water in a totally gnu-like fashion, while the proterosuchians (though nimbler and longer-legged than modern gators, and lacking armor) growl in a totally gator-style to make them even more croc-like.
    • The fight between Arthropleura and the giant amphibian, where the giant millipede acts just like a cobra against a mongoose.
    • Dimetrodon's overall act is very similar to Komodo Dragons (the adults fight by standing up, are cannibals, and their pups flee by climbing trees to escape them).
    • Hyneria pursue the proto-amphibian Hynerpeton "in the same way orcas do after a seal" as stated by the narrator himself (even though it can follow its prey even on land unlike orcas).
    • The Cephalaspis migrating in mass from the seas to a river and captured by the giant scorpions when they try to jump unto their spawning pool: this recalls a lot grizzly bears catching salmon near a waterfall. Finally, Haikouichthys eating the meat of a wounded Anomalocarid like a hagfish or lamprey.
    • The close-up of an amphibian attacking by desperation the giant gorgonopsid is very similar to that of the alligator attacking the black bear in Animal Face Off.
  • Eye Scream:
    • A female Dimetrodon's eye is knocked out of her head while defending her nest.
    • A Euparkeria is seen gnawing on a Lystrosaurus carcass' eye.
  • Fiendish Fish: The giant carnivorous fish Hyneria, which is portrayed as a Prehistoric Monster in its quest to hunt down our amphibian ancestors. It's an apex predator which is large enough to scare off sharks, and powerful enough to drag itself onto a beach in pursuit of prey like a killer whale.
  • Gainax Ending: The final episode ends with the Euparkeria asserting itself to a Proterosuchus... and then the "evolving" (in more of a Pokémon-esque fashion than anything else) into an Allosaurus (which lived almost a hundred million years later), then scares the Proterosuchus away. Clearly it was intended to be a segue into Walking with Dinosaurs, but it serves as a very strange conclusion to the Euparkeria's story, which up to that point was solely grounded in reality.
  • Just Before the End: The Late Permian segment is set just as the P-Tr extinction event is beginning.
  • Leitmotif: Hyneria is accompanied by a Jaws-esque theme.
  • Killed Offscreen: The last time we see the Gorgonopsid, it's desperately looking for prey in the increasingly-inhospitable Death World around it and gorging itself on a dead amphibian. When it returns, the Gorgonopsid has become a mummified corpse along the sand dunes.
  • Mama Bear: The mother Dimetrodon.
  • Misplaced Wildlife:
    • Carboniferous Period: Proterogyrinus was likely extinct by the time chronicled in this segment.
    • Early Permian Period: The species of Dimetrodon shown is not from the Bromacker Quarry. There is a species of Dimetrodon present, but it is significantly smaller than any of the American species.
    • Late Permian Period: Rhinesuchus and Diictodon are unknown from Russia and probably were restricted to the Southern hemisphere.
    • Early Triassic Period: Euchambersia and Euparkeria are unknown from Antarctica.
      • Furthermore, Euchambersia was extinct by this time, and Euparkeria hadn't evolved yet.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: After killing a Brontoscorpio, the Pterygotus shares the kill with its brood.
  • Nearly Normal Animal: Some animals seem sometimes acting in a human manner. For example: the male hynerpeton, when escaped the giant fish, looks backwards at it like it's saying "Take That!"... but the fish then demonstrated it was wrong. Also, when the giant spider destroys a Petrolacosaurus nest seem almost laughing for vengeance (because in the former period vertebrates had outmighted their arthropods "enemies").
  • Off-Model: The Allosaurus in the final episode switches between three different models. It first evolves into the design used in The Lost World (2001), then is represented by a close up from The Ballad of Big Al and finally in a montage of wide shots from the original Walking with Dinosaurs series.
  • Prehistoric Monster: It's even titled Walking With Monsters! Predators here are represented in a scarier way than the original Dinosaurs and Beasts. The idea is kind of that this is before the Earth had a ruling class, so different groups of animals were ferociously and graphically battling it out to be the dominant species. Things become more relaxed by the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, as seen in WWD and WWB.
  • Prequel: Can be seen as one to WWD.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Basically every animal except Dimetrodon (not casually, the creature chosen for the cover-image above).
    • Cambrian Period: Haikouichthys, Anomalocaris, Trilobite
    • Silurian Period: Cephalaspis, Brontoscorpio, Pterygotus, Cameroceras
    • Devonian Period: Hynerpeton, Hyneria, Stethacanthus
    • Carboniferous Period: Mesothelae, Petrolacosaurus, Meganeura, Arthropleura, Proterogyrinus
    • Early Permian Period: Edaphosaurus, Seymouria
    • Late Permian Period: Inostrancevia, Diictodon, Rhinesuchus, Scutosaurus
    • Early Triassic Period: Lystrosaurus, Euparkeria, Proterosuchus, Euchambersia
  • Sickening "Crunch!": How the Anomalocaris eats its bony prey.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: The Devonian amphibian Hynerpeton and his mate escape from the giant flesh-eating fish Hyneria's approach by crawling onto land. Just when it seems they're safe, the Hyneria reveals how powerful its fins are by dragging itself after the amphibians and grabbing the male by surprise.
  • Threatening Shark: In the first time period that sharks show up, they are playing second fiddle to the much larger carnivorous fish Hyneria. One of them is Swallowed Whole by the larger predator.
  • Wham Line: During the episode on the Permian-Triassic Extinction event.
    Narrator: With life under such pressure, species are dying out at a rate that won't be matched until humans evolve in two hundred and fifty million years' time.
  • Zerg Rush: Haikouichthys against the injured Anomalocaris.