Segments in this Video

Introduction: Strange Creatures: Australia's First 4 Billion Years (01:19)


Richard Smith reviews the history of the world through the end of the Cretaceous time period, highlighting events along the way.

Paleogene Period (02:09)

Ferns were quick to recover in the post-apocalyptic world. Learn about the Huon pine tree that is thought to be Australia's oldest living organism.

Gondwana Torn Apart (02:03)

The super continent was in its death throes. Tasmania held Australia and Antarctica together, but not forever.

Climate (02:03)

A sudden surge of greenhouse gases warms the climate to a steamy rainforest.

Mammals (01:58)

Marsupials now dominated Australia. Other animals that survived include the platypus and cassowary.

Cassowary (02:09)

The cassowary has evolved to become a modern distributor of forest fruits and seeds. At least 37 species of rainforest tree rely on the cassowary.

Isolated Forests (03:38)

Forests now cover less than one percent of Australia. Learn how the continents changed when Gondwana split apart.

Neogene Period (01:38)

Learn how the plant life changed as Australia inched towards the equator.

Kangaroo Evolution (03:55)

Mammologist Tim Flannery researches how the kangaroos developed. Kangaroos evolved from possums, and the musky rat-kangaroo is their oldest living relative.

Quaternary Period (03:14)

Smith visits Tahune Forest, Tasmania to see the Gum Tree. Kangaroos and apes become bipedal.

Climate Change (04:19)

The ice ages pulled moisture out of the air, pushing plants and animals to extremes. Smith visits Naracoorte Caves, South Australia to see remains of megafauna.

Humans Arrive (02:14)

The first humans to step on Australia arrived by boat fifty to sixty thousand years ago. Learn about the giant species they encountered.

Ancient Remains (02:51)

The first people spread rapidly south. Smith visits Lake Mungo, New South Wales where the oldest human remains were found on the continent.

Cultural Evolution (03:09)

Smith visits Wunambal Gaambera country, Western Australia to explore art left behind by early humans.

Ancient Art Depicts Climate Adaptation (01:46)

Three different styles of art appear on the rock walls.

Europeans Arrive (03:32)

James Cook arrived in Australia and discovered that his boat was trapped by the Great Barrier Reef. He climbed to the top of Lizard Island to find an escape route.

Anthropocene Period (02:50)

Humans have altered the continent forever. Learn about the animals that have since disappeared.

Continents in Peril (01:57)

Each year, humans shift more rocks and soil than the rivers and glaciers. Civilization alters the chemistry of our atmosphere and ozone.

Review Australia's First 4 Billion Uears (02:34)

Review the life forms that developed. Australia moves a few inches north every year. Sometime in the future a new super continent will develop.

Credits: Strange Creatures: Australia's First 4 Billion Years (01:42)

Credits: Strange Creatures: Australia's First 4 Billion Years

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Strange Creatures: Australia's First 4 Billion Years

Part of the Series : Australia's First 4 Billion Years
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



After the asteroid impact 65 million years ago, Australia was set adrift on a lonely voyage in southern seas. With host Richard Smith at the wheel, NOVA travels this walkabout continent to uncover how it became the strange island it is today. Australia’s many unusual creatures, like the kangaroo and the cassowary, tell a tale of isolation, change and resilience. Australia’s long history has seen mountains rise and fall, seas come and go, and whole kingdoms of life triumph and disappear. In this final episode, NOVA races down the last 65 million years to the present day.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL58718

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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