Lost World, Banished Lives

Presenter: David Attenborough
BBC Worldwide
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: U
Available 27 September 2004

Could a pterodactyl as large as a light aircraft have flown? Did millipedes once grow to six feet long? How did insects become preserved in amber for over 50 million years? All these questions and more are answered through the study of fossils...

Lost Word, Vanished Lives contains four 40 minute programmes which, using time lapse technology, stop-frame animation and computer technology, bring to life the world of fossils to show us what creatures lived millions of years ago. In his journeys to the most famous fossil sites in the world, David Attenborough discovers a prehistoric world teeming with life and full of enticing clues as to how life evolved.

These fossils reveal how dinosaurs hunted, lived in groups and cared for their young. And they offer glimpses of the most bizarre creatures that ever lived, such as tiny horses and an animal that is half bird and half reptile. With the help of expert palaeontologists, fossil enthusiasts from around the world and sophisticated modelling. Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives breathes life into Earth's distant past.

Possibly the most impressive revelation in this collection is the discovery of an 18 foot long wing belonging to a pterosaur. Both wings together would have given a 35-40 foot wing span, something that in nature seemed almost impossible. With the information available the Smithsonian Institution in America commissioned a model of one which could flap its wings and fly. Due to costs, a half-size model was created to prove that it could fly. The results are amazing and the model is an impressive feat of engineering.

The fact that fossils can be found anywhere will surely inspire many a young budding archaeologist. In fact, Attenborough himself recounts the story of his childhood, and how he would go fossil hunting. And, as he discovered fossils when breaking rocks in half, he states that he found it amazing that he was the first human to see each fossil, which had laid hidden for over 200 million years.

Pete Boomer

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