Professor Richard Fortey travels to some of the greatest fossil sites on earth to discover more about the distant past.
Part 1: Weird Wonders
Fortey journeys high in the Rocky Mountains to explore a 520-million-year-old fossilised seabed containing bizarre and experimental lifeforms that have revolutionised our understanding about the beginnings of complex life. Among the amazing finds he uncovers are marine creatures with five eyes and a proboscis; filter-feeders shaped like tulips; worm-like scavengers covered in spikes but with no identifiable head or anus; and a metre-long predator resembling a giant shrimp.
Part 2: Feathered Dinosaurs
Fortey travels to north eastern China to see a fossil site known as the ‘Dinosaur Pompeii’ – a place that has yielded spectacular remains of feathered dinosaurs and rewritten the story of the origins of birds. Among the amazing finds he investigates are the feathered cousin of T-rex, a feathered dinosaur with strong parallels to living pandas, and some of the most remarkable flying animals that have ever lived.
Part 3: The Mammal Hothouse
Fortey investigates the remains of ancient volcanic lake in Germany where stunningly well-preserved fossils of early mammals, giant insects and even perhaps our oldest known ancestor have been found. Among the amazing finds are bats as advanced and sophisticated as anything living today, more than 50-million-years-later, dog-sized ‘Dawn’ horses, the ancestor of the modern horse and giant ants as large as a hummingbird.