New Dawn
General information
SeriesWalking With Beasts
Episode number1
Featured creaturesLeptictidium
Giant Ants
Broadcast information
Original airdate15 November 2001
Chronological information
Previous episode
Big Al Uncovered
Following episode
Triumph of the Beasts

New Dawn is the first episode in the Walking with Beasts series. It depicted the Messel pits at the late Paleocene-early Eocene epochs 49 Million years ago. This episode deals with the beginning of the Cenozoic and the beginning of mammal evolution, as mammals struggle to survive alongside such early menaces as giant flightless birds and insects.

Episode synopsisEdit

The first 3–4 minutes of the episode are taken by the synopses of the series in total as well as the brief overview of the mammal evolution after the K-T Extinction before opening credits roll. Then the camera reveals the Paleogene Earth, following the path of a meteorite. It is only a small one and is not a threat.

The episode depicts 24 hours, from one morning to another around the Messel pits.

Early MorningEdit

This episode introduces Leptictidium and Gastornis - this is the only time in Earth's history when it was ruled by the birds. The Leptictidium manages to escape the flightless bird and several hours later she goes to the water to drink, but there is an Ambulocetus, so she is frustrated for the moment. Meanwhile, the Gastornis is confronted by another member of her species but manages to drive it away, failing to notice LeptictidiumAmbulocetus, meanwhile, moves back underwater, where it tries to ambush its prey. It tries to do with a Propalaeotherium, but the tiny horse manages to escape.


The Leptictidium family emerges from their home to hunt and to learn the edible insects. The Propalaeotherium are feeding on fallen fermented grapes. The Ambulocetus emerged from water to lay in ambush on the river shore for more potential prey. Godinotia sleep in trees. The Gastornis chick begins to hatch, just as a swarm of Giant Ants come upon it and eats it. The mother Gastornis doesn't learn about it until it is too late - and she kills one of the Propalaeotherium in the process. The Leptictidium family successfully escapes an Ambulocetus ambush and goes to sleep just as the giant ants attack the chick.

Evening, Night, and MorningEdit

The Godinotia wake up and start to socialize. Ambulocetus succeeds in catching a meal and goes on shore to sleep. An earthquake begins, releasing gas from the bottom of the lake that kill various animals, including the Ambulocetus and one Propalaeotherium. The Leptictidium family is unharmed and they ignore the dead Ambulocetus. However, at the end of the Eocene when the climate will become drier, primitive mammals such as Leptictidium will die out without any descendants, while Ambulocetus is the one with the big future - its descendants will evolve into whales, the most magnificent dynasty of mammals, and the focus of the next episode, Whale Killer.

Creatures Edit

65 Million Years Ago (Montana, USA)Edit

49 Million Years Ago (Frankfurt, Germany)Edit


Promotional ImagesEdit

Episode ScreenshotsEdit


Original airdateEdit

  • 15 November 2001 20.30 BBC One


  • 18 November 2001 16.30 BBC One
  • 19 February 2003 19.00 BBC Four
  • 25 November 2006 20.00 BBC Three
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