"David Attenborough's Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates" is a Two-Part Journey Over 500 Million Years

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10 May 2015
 Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates
Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
 "David Attenborough's Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates"
 Wednesday, May 13 at 8 and 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel™

          Smithsonian Channel will premiere the two-part series, "David Attenborough's Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates" on Wednesday, May 13 at 8 and 9 p.m. ET/PT. From Atlantic Productions, the team that produced Sir David Attenborough’s Emmy® Award-winning series First Life, comes a new landmark series about the astonishing evolutionary advances that created the dazzling diversity of vertebrates which now dominate our planet, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and ultimately, mammals like us. Vertebrates have produced the largest, fastest, most intelligent creatures the world has ever seen.  
          Sir David Attenborough is the world’s leading natural history broadcaster and was recently awarded an Individual Life Achievement honor from the Peabody Awards that declared: “No other living creature has shown us more about life on Earth than David Attenborough. He’s a credit to his species.” His distinguished career in television spans more than 50 years. His films and series have won nearly every major award in television, including Emmys and British Academy Awards.
          Attenborough said: “I’m delighted that "Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates" will be screened on Smithsonian Channel. Their commitment to quality natural history programming makes them a natural home for this series.”
          In "Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates," Attenborough travels to stunning and remote locations to unravel vertebrates’ mysterious origins, chart their unexpected journey out of the water, and reveal the incredible rise of mammals left to battle it out following the death of dinosaurs. The journey reveals how humans are the heirs to a magnificent evolutionary heritage stretching back to the first steps of life.
          The special takes Attenborough to a region he’s long dreamed of exploring, the new frontier of modern paleontological research, China. There he was given special access to a treasure trove of new fossil evidence allowing him to paint an enriched picture of our paleontological past. Attenborough uses animal encounters and new fossil evidence to unpack the crucial evolutionary turning points leading to the rise of vertebrates, including the first spine, where fingers and toes come from, why we became warm-blooded, and much more.

          In the first episode, "From the Seas to the Skies," Attenborough explores the ancient natural world to investigate one of nature’s most extraordinary stories – the birth and ascent of the animal group that now dominates our planet: vertebrates.  The origins of the vertebrates lie in primitive fish that once swam in ancient seas. Remarkable advances allowed them to make the radical move onto land, and then take to the skies with flight. Brand new discoveries of fossils – ancient and living – combined with stunning CGI and cinematography enable Attenborough to chart their unexpected journey out of the water to populate all corners of the planet.
          For the second part, "Dawn of the Mammals," Attenborough continues his journey in China to chart the astonishing rise of the vertebrates.  He reveals the fascinating story of the mammals, from their humble origins as tiny nocturnal forest dwellers to their astonishing explosion in diversity and domination following the death of the dinosaurs. Attenborough unlocks the meteoric rise of mammals that laid the foundation for the ascent of man.
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