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Science Wednesdays: Australia’s First 4 Billion Years

Fri, 04/05/2013 - 2:43pm -- WCVE

Of all the continents on Earth, none preserves a more spectacular story of its origins than Australia. NOVA’s miniseries takes viewers on a rollicking adventure from the birth of the Earth to the emergence of the world we know today. With high-energy host and geologist Richard Smith, meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and deadly asteroids.

Epic in scope, intimate in nature, this is the untold story of the Land Down Under, the island continent that has it all.

Wath NOVA: Australia’s First 4 Billion Years Wednesdays, April 10 to May 1 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS / WHTJ PBS.

“Awakening” premieres Wednesday, April 10
Hidden in the red hills of Australia are clues to the mysteries of Earth’s birth, how life arose and how it transformed the planet into the world we now live in. Experts unveil the earliest forms of life: an odd assortment of bacterial slime. Life like this would flood the atmosphere with oxygen and spark the biological revolution that conquered the planet.

“Life Explodes” premieres Wednesday, April 17
How did life storm the beaches and dominate planet Earth? Ancient Australian fossils offer clues. While the oceans were teeming, the world above the waves remained an almost lifeless wasteland — until the Silurian period, when the conquest of the land began.

“Monsters” premieres Wednesday, April 24
NOVA resurrects the giants that stalked the land and discovers that some of them were among the largest ever to have walked the Earth. Others were some of the most dangerous. In the dry desert heart, scientists unearth an ancient inland ocean, full of sea monsters. But reptiles didn’t have the world all to themselves. Mammals like the enigmatic platypus lived alongside them, ready for their day in the sun. And 65 million years ago, that day arrived.

“Strange Creatures” premieres Wednesday, May 1
After the asteroid impact 65 million years ago — believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs — Australia was set adrift on a lonely voyage in southern seas. 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.