"Swimming With Sea Monsters" TV mini-series

Phil

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UK readers might be interested to know there is a new 3 part follow up to the "Walking with Dinosaurs" TV series starting this Sunday (9th) on BBC1 at 7pm.

Of particular interest to TONMO readers will be Part One which depicts the seas in the Ordovician and Devonian and features stunning computer graphic reconstructions of giant orthoconic nautiloids and eurypterids.

Those not in the UK, don't worry! This mini-series will be transmitted on Discovery Channel soon. I will post the dates here when I can find them out.
 

Phil

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Whether or not you will be able to see this programme tomorrow, the web-site is now on line here:

Swimming with Sea Monsters Website

There is some amazing footage of Cameroceras, a giant Ordovician orthoconic nautiloid seizing a sea scorpion whilst poor Nigel Marven looks on. I'm afraid it is not for real, though. Sorry! Link here:

Giant Orthocone Nautiloid video

The 'Seamonsters' game is rather amusing too, even if it is somewhat incomprehensible. One level seems to be using a little submarine to fire at ammonites, rather like Space Invaders! You can access the game from the main link above.

The Devonian arthrodire Dunkleosteus looks stunning in the video too. It's great to see those creatures one reads about brought to life like this!
 

Fujisawas Sake

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Phil,

Well, its not "Life of Mammals" or "Walking With Dinosaurs", but it does look cool... Is this going to have some sort of sci-fi twist like "The Future is Wild"?
 

um...

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God, how I'm salivating.

Phil said:
The 'Seamonsters' game is rather amusing too, even if it is somewhat incomprehensible. One level seems to be using a little submarine to fire at ammonites, rather like Space Invaders! You can access the game from the main link above.
Phil, why do you suppose modern cephalopods lost the ability to shoot bolts of lightning? That seems like a rather useful adaptation, doesn't it? I mean, it's almost as good as sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. And I thought photophores were cool...

:roll:

:nautiloi:
 

Phil

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Fujisawas Sake said:
Phil,

Well, its not "Life of Mammals" or "Walking With Dinosaurs", but it does look cool... Is this going to have some sort of sci-fi twist like "The Future is Wild"?
John,

This is a new three part extension of the 'Walking with Dinosaurs' series. The difference with that series, and its sequel 'Beasts', is that we now have Nigel Marven, a BBC Natural History presenter, transported back in time and providing a commentary in a Steve Irwin style-presentation. He will certainly have to face Liopleurodon and Megalodon in parts 2 and 3. It should be good fun and quite entertaining. I'm sure it will be aimed at a family audience and be low on science, but why not? These programmes are good fun and always spark the 'How do they know that?' debate at work, down the pub, and hopefully, in the classroom. We can all look at these programmes and be cynical, but if they provoke an interest in a few children who go on to study fossils and palaeontology as a result, then they were well worth making.

In my opinion, too many people look at the 'Walking with..." type-series with the wrong attitude. I hear frequent complaints from people who watch these programmes and resent 'being told' what is allegedly fact. But these are the same people who can't be bothered to get off their backsides and look it up for themselves. If we were to have programmes purely containing 'fact' then very few people would watch them as showing rows of fossils in a museum would not pull in the viewers. Showing a diver attacked by a nautiloid will. These programmes should be regarded as an entertaining and informative springboard to learning, and not 'this is how it was'. Well done BBC, for once!

Oh, and I finally got hold of 'The Future Is Wild' on DVD and am just starting to watch it. It's quite entertaining. I had no idea Richard Fortey was attached to the project. :notworth:

If you are interested in Nautiloids, watch this space!
 

Phil

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um... said:
Phil, why do you suppose modern cephalopods lost the ability to shoot bolts of lightning? That seems like a rather useful adaptation, doesn't it? I mean, it's almost as good as sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. And I thought photophores were cool...
Well Um..

An Early Cretaceous Ammonite from Peru called Electroceras could generate bolts of lightning in a unique organ located in the phragmocone protoconch called an Electoaptychus. It could discharge them via a specially adapted hectocotylus arm in order to stun belemnites, move in an eat them. They became extinct as they had a tendency to overheat and fry themselves.

:D
 

um...

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Phil said:
In my opinion, too many people look at the 'Walking with..." type-series with the wrong attitude. I hear frequent complaints from people who watch these programmes and resent 'being told' what is allegedly fact. But these are the same people who can't be bothered to get off their backsides and look it up for themselves.
Exactly! I've noticed that problem in a lot of people, and have had a few heated debates over many pints. Maybe they should begin every episode by stating that it's educated speculation, even though that should be obvious. I could go on at length, but there's little to be gained from preaching to the choir. [sigh]

and also said:
Oh, and I finally got hold of 'The Future Is Wild' on DVD and am just starting to watch it.
I didn't realize that was on DVD already. Must get mine.

:trilobit:
 

Fujisawas Sake

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Phil said:
They became extinct as they had a tendency to overheat and fry themselves.

:D

Oh! So they were overclocking, huh? Or they were running eMachines...

:bonk:
 

Fujisawas Sake

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Phil,

Heh heh... sorry... Yeah, I do sound a bit cynical, don't I? No, I LOVED the aforementioned series (bought them all on DVD). I do know, however, that while we'll probably never know how these animals looked and acted, these programs are incredibly educated guesses.

I think animal behavior and morphology hasn't changed too much when it comes to terrestrials, let alone aquatic forms over the last 300 million years or so. Let's face it: nature favors certain designs, certain behaviors, and certain forms across the board. Think basic aquatic forms: Fish, Squid, Icthyosaurs, Sharks, and Whales all take the same basic torpedo shape for aquatic life. On land, two to four legs is good for large animals. Metabolic rates probably haven't changed too much either from dinos to us. I think we can extrapolate good ethological theories and put them into virtual presentations like "Walking With..." and have them be pretty much on the mark.

As far as "The Future is Wild", its sci-fi, with an emphasis on the "Sci". The forms are all very possible (Yes, even the Squibbon), given that directions in evolution are genetic and environmental and the selective pressures exerted on animals makes for really wild variations across species even as already diverse as the cephalopods.

If my writing is cynical, I need a vacation! :sleeping: Hee hee

Sushi and Sake,

John

P.S. Oh, and mad props to the BBC, dude... "Blue Planet: Seas of Life" and "Life of Mammals" are two of the greatest DVD sets ever! Now, if I can only find "Red Dwarf"....
 

Phil

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Hey John,

I didn't mean you being cynical!

The Blue Planet DVD is very good, especially as Steve features in the 'State of the Oceans' extra. The first 3 years of Red Dwarf are available over here so I suspect they may be available in the USA. Might be worth checking Amazon.

Cheers,

Phil
 

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