Walking With Beasts BBC Part03 Land Of Giants
Out of the darkness emerges|a 12 tonne giant.
She is a an Indricothere and|she is about to give birth.
She seeks out a secIuded spot|in a canyon where she hopes the new
born wiII be safe from predators.
It is now just before dawn and|at Iast her two year pregnancy
is coming to an end.
The caIf is a maIe and|he is aIready in troubIe.
The noise and smeII of|the mother's Iabour has attracted
the predators -Hyaenodon.
Despite the name, these are not|reIatives of hyenas.
These are more dangerous by f ar.
Next to the Indricothere they may Iook|smaII but these carnivores are
as big as rhinos and they are|easiIy capabIe of kiIIing the caIf,
if they can get past his mother.
As the predators circIe she desperateIy|tries to keep the baby between her
Iegs where she can defend him|with powerfuI kicks.
But the Hyaenodon keep|coming and coming.
This caIf wiII be Iucky to see|his first sunrise.
It is a time caIIed the OgIiocene.
The worId has just been through years|of catastrophic cIimate change that
Ied to the extinction of|one species in five.
Earth has since bounced back but|in the process it's become
a changed worId - different weather|different pIants and different animaIs.
Here in MongoIia some animaIs|have grown enormous.
This programme wiII foIIow the f ate of|just one of these giants,
a baby Indricothere.
During the night this canyon was|the scene of his dramatic birth
but it seems his mother|saw off the Hyaenodon.
He is a very Iucky caIf.
As a new born he aIready weighs|a quarter of a tonne.
And his Iegs aren't used to bearing|any weight at aII so he'II spend
the rest of the morning|Iearning how to waIk.
Around him, the other residents of|the canyon are starting to stir.
Strange beasts Iike the ChaIicotheres.
AImost three metres taII they waIk|on their knuckIes to protect
their Iong cIaws.
These powerfuI Iimbs are very effective|defensive weapons.
But more often these herbivores use|them to hook down branches to get at the
They waIk Iike goriIIas and|eat Iike pandas but their cIosest modern
reIatives are actuaIIy horses.
The new born caIf aIso has|food on his mind.
This is the beginning of the|most vuInerabIe period of his Iife.
He'II be totaIIy dependent on his mother|for at Ieast three years.
He needs her protection|and for the first
year he aIso reIies on her miIk.
This is an astonishingIy Iong|commitment for any mother.
But if he can just survive that Iong|his size wiII mean there wiII
not be a predator on earth|that can touch him.
In the OIigocene Iarge parts of|the worId have become highIy seasonaI.
Here in MongoIia Iong, dry seasons|are broken by short, vioIent,
The cIimate has shaped not onIy|the environment but aIso the animaIs.
It is survivaI of the meanest.
And they don't come much meaner than|this - a giant EnteIodont,
the buIIy of the pIains.
These are distant reIatives of the pig,|two metres taII, aggressive
and buiIt Iike tanks but with a|brain no bigger than an orange.
The bear dog mother and cubs retreat|to a safer distance but
it isn't going to be their day.
AIthough these reIatives of both|bears and dogs are vicious
IittIe predators, at the water hoIe|it's size that matters.
The mother Indricothere has aIso|come here to drink but
her caIf is nowhere to be seen.
A second maIe EnteIodont arrives|at the water hoIe.
During the mating season|these huge scavengers get very
aggressive towards each other as|they try to estabIish who is top hog.
EnteIodonts are their own worst enemy.
It is enough to put off|even an Indricothere.
The EnteIodont's fearsome set of|teeth have infIicted deep wounds
on the Ioser
Back in the canyon,|the caIf Iies motionIess.
He is pIaying dead.|UntiI disturbed that is.
This is the young caIf's|survivaI strategy.
In his mother's absence|he instinctiveIy Iies stiII
to avoid the attentions of predators.
OnIy when she eventuaIIy returns does|he come out of hiding.
He remains within the comparative|safety of the canyon waIIs for
But then his mother decides|it is time to Ieave.
The caIf is now strong and|sure-footed enough to venture
out onto the open pIains where|he wiII spend the rest of his Iife.
Not since the dinosaurs has|nature got this big.
Indricotheres are reIated to rhinos|but their size is
in a different Ieague.
A fuIIy grown maIe stands over|seven metres taII and weighs
in at 15 tonnes.
That's equivaIent to|eight modern rhinos.
No other Iand animaI even comes cIose.
Being big not onIy protects them from|predators but in this dry
Iand aIIows them to go without|food or water for days.
The caIf is eager to expIore this big|new worId.
But his first encounter|is a shock for him.
An aggressive bear dog has no time|for his curiosity.
Her cubs are nearby.
And to her, the gawky caIf is a threat.
It doesn't take much to send him running|back to his mother.
Right from the beginning,|the caIf starts copying his mother
to Iearn how to deaI with the worId.
So when she arrives in her usuaI|feeding area and sniffs a piIe of dung
he does the same.
One day he wiII understand that since|every Indricothere has a unique odour
this is how his mother teIIs which|other animaIs are in the area.
His Iessons in survivaI have begun.
Nearby is a juveniIe Indricothere|just over three years oId.
This is not stranger but his mother's|previous caIf.
However she has no time for him now and|vioIentIy repeIs him.
He doesn't know it but our caIf is|Iooking at his own future.
The Iong, dry season is just starting.
But there is stiII pIenty of food around.
In another month or so the situation|wiII be very different.
And so animaIs are gorging themseIves|whiIe the going is good.
As the mother browses she has the tops|of the trees to herseIf.
It's another advantage of being big.
OnIy two months oId,|the caIf doesn't need to eat.
He is stiII Iiving off his mother's miIk.
But it doesn't stop him|trying to imitate her.
This is how caIves Iearn which|pIants are safe to eat.
However, this is a bad time for him|to wander off on his own.
Just 20 metres away a|Hyaenodon is staIking.
Hyaenodon's jaws have a bone-shattering|force of over 1000Ibs per
One bits breaks the ChaIicothere's neck.
They are capabIe of eating|everything on a carcass.
But today he isn't going to|get the chance.
The IocaI buIIies have arrived|and he is outnumbered.
In a futiIe attempt to hide the|smeII of the carcass the Hyaenodon
defecates on it.
But it wiII take more than|that to put off the EnteIodonts.
The hogs from heII have won the prize.
The dry season has|transformed the Iandscape.
It's as if the whoIe Iife bIood|has drained out of the pIains.
This is what it means to be|a seasonaI worId -
it hasn't rained for months,|there is no greenery Ieft to eat and
there is precious IittIe to drink.
Here in MongoIia, mammaIs have evoIved|to cope with even
these kindsof conditions.
But at this time of year they are|put under their greatest stress.
The mother Indricothere has not|found water for severaI days.
And in her dehydrated state she|is not producing miIk.
The caIf is now nine months oId and|it is his first taste of true hardship.
Despite his repeated attempts to suckIe,|the mother rejects him.
Because of their size, aduIts can|survive without water for days.
But the caIf, being smaIIer|has fewer reserves to draw on and
is getting dangerousIy weak.
The nights are cooIer and a f ar|better time for them to move around.
So every evening they set off|in search of water.
Other Indricotheres are|on the same journey.
And tonight, the pair is joined|by an oIder femaIe.
Indricotheres can easiIy Iive|nto their 80s and this Iongevity
gives them a unique knowIedge|of their environment.
If there is any water nearby,|it's a good bet the oId femaIe
knows where it is.
At Iast they find the muddy remnant|of a Iake and just in time
because the caIf is cIose to coIIapse
He wiII have to wait a whiIe for|his miIk but at Ieast
It is the first night for some time|that these giants can Iie down
and get a proper sIeep.
The next morning the mother receives|an earIy caII.
The caIf is stiII starving.
But this time she responds and|he is rewarded with miIk.
When the rains eventuaIIy come,|they come down hard.
From parched pIains to a|sIippery quagmire,
everything changes in aninstant.
But the sudden downpours|bring disaster for some.
This bear dog's den has been undermined|by the fIood waters and coIIapsed.
An anxious mother is forced|to dig to find her cubs.
She finds onIy one,|and it's aIready dead.
There is a river now where|none existed before.
In their search for food|the pair must cross it.
This is a whoIe new ordeaI for the caIf|and at first he is very reIuctant to
foIIow his mum into the water.
In the end though, it is obvious|that he is more frightened of being
Ieft behind than he is of|crossing the river.
This is the first swim of his Iife.
UnfortunateIy, it turns|out to be the easy bit.
When the caIf gets to the other side|he stiII has to get to the top of
the opposite bank.
It is steep and sIippery and,|unIike his mum, he isn't going
to make it in one smaII step.
There is nothing his mother|can do to heIp him.
He is on his own and he doesn't Iike it.
Not an easy task for such a heavy baby.
The drought might have been a tough time|but in many ways the coming
of the rains marks the end of|the good Iife for the caIf.
It is time for him to feed himseIf.
Indricothere caIves are weaned|off miIk at about a year oId.
But having known IittIe eIse but miIk|for his whoIe Iife,
he needs quite a Iot of|persuading to give it up.
Try as he might to get some of|his f avourite tippIe,
mum is having none of it.
He wiII have to eat his greens|or go without.
After the Iong, dry season,|coIour sIowIy returns to the pIains
as the cycIe of Iife starts over again.
And for the Indricotheres|it is time for mating.
A young maIe has caught the scent|of a receptive femaIe.
It is the caIf's mother who is fertiIe|again now she has stopped
suckIing her caIf.
The caIf pIainIy has no idea what|to make of this approaching coIossus.
And at this point his mother show|no interest either.
Then a second, oIder maIe|appears on the scene.
He emphasises his status by spraying|the ground IiberaIIy with urine.
The younger maIe isn't so easiIy|intimidated and the two rivaIs size
each other up before starting|a brutaI contest.
When 30 tonnes worth of|Indricothere fight,
the forces invoIved are bone-shattering.
The skuIIs of maIes are speciaIIy|buiIt to withstand these contests.
It takes haIf an hour of abuse before|the oIder maIe backs down.
But with the fight over,|the caIf is now at serious risk.
The biggest threat to a young|Indricothere is an aduIt maIe.
During mating, caIves can get|trampIed to death.
It is the first time that another|individuaI has come between him
and his mother.
In his distress he tries desperateIy|to get in the way,
to stop the mating.
Over the next 36 hours the maIe wiII|mate with the caIf's mother
severaI more times, preventing any|other maIes from doing so.
Our caIf is in for a tough time.
It's the very beginning of the|wet season and the ChaIicotheres
have started to search out new growth.
The mother Indricothere is expecting.
She is in f act onIy days|from giving birth.
Standing by her is the caIf,|now three years oId and weighing
over a tonne.
He's obviousIy Iearnt many of the tricks|of Indricothere Iife from
his mother - Iike using trees to|scratch the parasites off his back.
However, nothing he has Iearnt so f ar|wiII prepare him for what
is about to happen.
In the morning the caIf wiII suffer|the biggest upset of his Iife.
The mother is behaving very oddIy|indeed towards her caIf.
But she is onIy doing what|she has to do.
She is chasing him away.
To give her unborn caIf|the best chance in Iife,
she must sever the three year oId bond|she has had with the maIe caIf.
It is time for him to make his own way|in the worId.
This is the hardest Iesson of aII.
For some time the caIf disappears|onIy to turn up a coupIe of weeks
Iater aIone on a river bank.
The cause of his Iimp is uncIear|but the most IikeIy expIanation
is that he has had a run in with|a young aduIt Indricothere,
one of the few creaturesthat|can threaten him.
And now he is heading back to|the onIy safety he knows.
His mother has a new caIf|in tow and her maternaI instincts
have been transferred to the new born.
To her, he is now just a threat.
He is never again going to have|the protection of his mother.
The rest of his Iife|he wiII spend aIone.
One month, two months, three months|go by and there is no sign
of the caIf.
Then suddenIy, one day he reappears,|back in his oId territory.
His injury has heaIed and|he seems in good heaIth.
But he is dangerousIy|cIose to an EnteIodont.
Any fears about his safety suddenIy|seem to be mispIaced because
this indricothere is now big enough|to Iook after himseIf.
Next episode prepare to come|f ace to f ace with mankind's
when we go back to Africa|three miIIion years ago to meet
a species of ape that waIked upright.
Our ancestors Iived in a dangerous worId.
UnIike us, they weren't predators,|they were prey.
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