Walking with Monsters is a three-part British documentary film series about life in the Paleozoic, bringing to life extinct arthropods, fish, amphibians, synapsids, and reptiles that was broadcast on the BBC in 2005. It was a follow-up to the previously broadcasted BBC series, 'Walking with Dinosaurs.' It was narrated by Kenneth Branagh in the U.K version. This article looks at each episode of the programme.
The first episode begins with an illustration of the giant impact hypothesis. Approximately 4.4 billion years ago when the Earth was formed, it is conjectured that a planet-like object referred to as Theia collided into the early Earth, dynamically reshaping the Earth and forming the moon. The episode then jumps ahead to the Cambrian Explosion, showing the first diversification of life in the sea. Strange arthropod predators called Anomalocaris feed on trilobites, and fight with each other, where upon, the wounded loser is attacked by a school of Haikouichthys, described as the first vertebrate. The Haikouichthys attack by swarming through a crack in Anomalocaris's armour.
The second episode shows the swampy coal forests of the Carboniferous in prehistoric times. It explains that because of a much higher oxygen content in the atmosphere, giant land arthropods evolved, such as a Mesothelae, Meganeura; a dragonfly and Arthropleura; a huge millipede relative. A Mesothelae hunts down a Petrolacosaurus. She comes back from her hunting expedition only to find out that her burrow has flooded. Not only that, the Petrolacosaurus that she caught is stolen by a Meganeura. On the spider's search for a new burrow, she passed through a pond full of Reptiliomorphs. Later, she was chased by an Arthropleura, which is later killed in a fight with a Proterogyrinus. The Mesothelae finally chases a Petrolacosaurus out of its own burrow and moves in. A storm brews and the narrator explains that its high oxygen content makes the atmosphere very combustible, so lightning is a real danger.
Clash of the Titans
The third episode is set in the Late Permian, on the supercontinent Pangaea, which was covered by a vast and inhospitable desert. In this arid climate, early therapsids, which are described as more "mammal-like" than reptile, are shown fighting to survive alongside other animals. The programme starts with an old and sick Scutosaurus, a relative of turtles, being killed by a female gorgonopsid which later joins others of her kind at a small waterhole. Other inhabitants of the area include Diictodon, a small burrowing dicynodont. In the pool itself is a starving labyrinthodont that ambushes the female gorgonopsid in desperation and quickly retreats. A herd of Scutosaurus arrive and eventually drink the waterhole dry.