Wed April 17, 2013
Nova: Ancient Australia
No continent has preserved the history of the world better than Australia. Nova takes a special look into what we can find out about our past in the wild nature of Australia.
What can Australia reveal about how Earth was born and how life took hold? Join NOVA and host Dr. Richard Smith as they journey back to the very beginning of the Australian story in "Awakening." The first stop is Western Australia, around four and a half billion years ago, where we encounter an Earth shortly after its fiery birth. Hidden in the red hills of Australia are clues to the mysteries of when the Earth was born, how life first arose, and how it transformed the planet. Experts unveil how the earliest forms of life—an odd assortment of bacterial slime—flooded the atmosphere with oxygen, sparking the biological revolution that made animal life possible. It is the beginning of the great drama of life on Earth.
How did life storm the beaches and dominate planet Earth? Ancient Australian fossils offer clues in "Life Explodes." Half a billion years ago, Australia was still part of the super-continent Gondwana. The oceans were teeming with weird and wonderful animals, but the world above the waves remained an almost lifeless wasteland. All that was about to change, though. Host Richard Smith introduces Earth's forgotten pioneers: the scuttling arthropod armies that invaded the shores and the waves of green revolutionaries whose battle for the light pushed plant life across the face of a barren continent. Evolution continued underwater as well, with armor-plated fish experimenting with teeth, jaws, sex, and lungs. NOVA's prehistoric adventure continues with four-legged animals walking onto dry land—and the planet poised for disaster.
Monsters April 24th at 8pm Program Description
"Monsters" begins Down Under at the dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs. Host Richard Smith comes face-to-face with the previously unknown reptilian rulers of prehistoric Australia. NOVA resurrects the giants that stalked the Great Southern Land and discovers that some of these animals were among the largest ever to have walked the Earth. Others were some of the most dangerous. In the dry desert heart, scientists unearth an ancient inland ocean full of sea monsters. Opal fossils of some of these beasts paint a colorful picture of the exotic seascape, where long-necked plesiosaurs snacked on shelled creatures that grew as large as truck tires. The most fearsome was Kronosaurus, with a skull twice as long as T. rex. But reptiles didn't have the world all to themselves. Mammals like the enigmatic platypus lived alongside them, ready for their moment in the sun.