New Dawn
General information
Series Walking with Beasts
Episode no. 1
Featured animals Leptictidium
Broadcast information
Original airdate 15 November 2001
Next Whale Killer
The survivors of the extinction all had one thing in common - their size. Nearly every animal over 10 kilograms had been wiped out. leaving a world of little creatures.
New Dawn is the first episode of Walking with Beasts.

The episode focuses on the events of twenty-four hours in the Messel Pits of Eocene Germany.

New Dawn attracted 8.5m viewers and a 35% audience share on its first airing, with 2.6 million more viewers than average for BBC1's Thursday night 8.30-9pm slot.

Plot summaryEdit

49 million years ago, Early Eocene (Germany)
Filming location: Java

The first episode depicts the warm tropical world of the early Eocene which was 16 million years after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Birds, including the giant carnivorous Gastornis, rule this world, while mammals are still very small. The setting is near the Messel pit in Germany. Due to volcanic activity, sudden bulk escapes of carbon dioxide trapped underneath lakes pose a significant hazard to the local wildlife. The episode centers around a Leptictidium family, a leaping, shrew-like mammal, which has emerges in the dawn hours to forage for food.

It is mentioned that although the Leptictidium survived the gas, they would ultimately leave a mystery if that species had a descendant like a shrew or not but most likely they left no descendants, while the Ambulocetus (who was killed by the lethal gases) would evolve into the whales, hereby setting the scene for the next episode.

Animals featuredEdit




  • Tamandua
  • Crocodile
  • Gecko
  • Frog
  • Snake
  • Dragonfly
  • Squirrel

Image galleryEdit


Behind the scenesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit