Search - What Killed the Mega-Beasts on DVD

What Killed the Mega-Beasts
What Killed the Mega-Beasts
Genres: Educational, Documentary
NR     2002     1hr 32min

Imagine a world overrun by 9-foot flightless birds, 17-foot giant beavers and predatory marsupial lions as tall as elephants! Two million years ago, these enormous creatures - Mega Beasts - roamed the continents in bursti...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Educational, History
Studio: Discovery Channel
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 09/24/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 32min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Flawed and better avoided
Dr. Christopher Coleman | HONG KONG | 02/06/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)

""What Killed the Mega-Beasts?" is a Discovery Channel production. As an introduction some of to the giant mammals (and in one instance, bird) of the Plesticene it may have some interest, but it is flawed in far too many ways.First: the suppositions. 1) There are a class of animals generally known as Mega-Beasts: this is merely a sensationalist term for large creatures as diverse as reptiles, mammals, birds; carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, that have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. (The special concentrates on only a few of these--the wooly mammoth/mastodon, the giant beaver, the giant lemur, the giant ground sloth, the marsupial lion and the moa.) 2) These giant beasts have all suffered a single, individual fate--namely, extinction. Of course, Africa and Asia still have a number of "Mega-Beasts" surviving, although perhaps precariously, into the present day, including elephants, rhinos, hippos, and tigers. 3) The extinction of the creatures considered, although it occured the world over and over the span of at least 50,000 years, has a single, or at least common, cause. This point infuriated me--there's no reason at all, or certainly no reason shown on this program--to believe that the cause of the moa's extinction 700 years ago in New Zealand is identical to the cause of the extinction of the Giant Beaver in North America 20,000 years ago. And while the individual scientists (with one rather remarkable exception) are fairly careful not to make this claim, the narration repeatedly implies it ad nauseum. Only in the last 15 minutes is any consideration given to a complex of factors as the cause for extinction, and then again, it's all or nothing. So while there is some interesting material (I had not been familiar with the Giant Lemur of Madagascar), overall the scientific content is dubious due to the sensationalist oversimplifications of the narration.Second, the production: Again, in an effort to make the material "sexy", the three main theories are given rhyming names: kill, chill, and ill. (KIll being the idea that mankind hunted these creatures to extinction; chill being climatic change--including in one case not a chill but a drought of 1000 years; and ill being a "hyperplague" which one scientist insisted must the the sole cause of all the extinctions in spite of there being no evidence yet discovered at all to back up the theory.) This rhyme was repeated so often with such melodrama that my family started making up new theories--"pill", the idea that the megabeasts became crazed drug addicts and overdosed to extinction; "Krill", the megabeasts were done in by tiny zooplankton; and "Dill", the megabeasts were pickled to extinction. The Discovery Channel intended this to be broadcast on television with commercial breaks but apparently they have no respect for their audience's attention span. After EVERY break there was a "back announcement" of the program's thesis. That's undoubtedly useful if you fall asleep, walk in late, or have Alzheimer's; but on a DVD it's infuriating.Third: the science. That "ill" was considered at all, with this total lack of evidence, again speaks to the sensationalist aspect of the production. While certainly viruses and bacteria do jump species barriers--right now in Asia we are experiencing a bird flu which jumps from various birds to humans, and just today it's been found in pigs--this would have to be an unusually virulent species jumper with a fondness for large animals and no taste for small ones which furthermore no longer exists. Anthrax-like diseases have surely played roles in decimating, stressing, or even extinguishing particular animal populations over history, but a single disease rampant over 50,000 years, active up until 700 years ago but now no longer apparently on the planet strains my credulity.Fourth: the animation. What Killed the Mega-Beasts clearly follows on the footsteps of the BBC's Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, but does so with a cheaper budget...or at least, those are the results. The animations are not, as the descriptions say, "the most rivetingly realistic computer animation available"--for the most part they aren't good at all given today's extremely high standards. Particularly poor are the mixed animation/live action shots: a modern crocodile takes a swipe at an animated giant lemur, and a marsupial lion attacks two primitive men. The latter scene had my 13 year old daughter yelling "FAKE!" at the TV. 'Nuff said.I've been interested in these odd, gigantic creatures since I was a child and first got a plastic giant ground sloth mixed in with my dinosaurs, so I'm really glad that they are finally getting the attention they deserve. But your money will be much better spent on Walking with Prehistoric Beasts. If you already have that, you will be disappointed with this."