BBC Before the Dinosaurs - Walking With Monsters
The BBC Walking With Monsters series takes the known pieces of the fossil record from some of the major evolutionary moments in the history of life on Earth and makes them come to life. A lot of what is in these documentaries is speculative -- but it is based on fossils and research currently available. This series is great for a quick overview of the different stages of vertebrate evolution. A little time is spent on what would become the modern fish, amphibian, and reptiles, ending with the age of the dinosaurs.
Episode Summary: The first segment of the Walking With Monsters series covers the Cambrian period up through the Silurian period and the Devonian period. The majority of animal life during this age was restricted to the ocean, although there were a few species that began moving onto land for food and into freshwater sources within the continents for a safe haven from predators. A species called Haikouichthys, called the first vertebrate, is featured, along with huge arthropods like Brontoscorpio.
Key Concepts: Cambrian period, Cambrian explosion, Silurian period, Devonian period, vertebrates, arthropods, giant impact hypothesis, amphibians.
Episode Summary: This episode of Walking With Monsters begins in the Carboniferous period. As the oxygen content of the atmosphere was much higher, the land arthropods evolved to be huge in size. This moves onto the Permian period, where a dramatic climate change has caused the emergence of conifer trees, and the beginnings of the modern reptiles.
Key Concepts: Carboniferous period, Permian period, arthropods, reptiles.
Clash of Titans
Episode Summary: The final episode of Walking With Monsters begins in the Late Permian. The climate during this age is very arid and dry. Following the Permian-Triassic extinction, the exceptionally warm climate begins to favor larger and more diverse reptiles, which eventually leads to the age of the dinosaurs.
Key Concepts: Permian period, Permian-Triassic extinction, Early Triassic period, reptiles.