Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives is a 1989 four-part BBC documentary series concerning the discovery of fossils. It is written and presented by David Attenborough, produced by Mike Salisbury, and was originally broadcast in April 1989. It was made in between the second and third instalments of Attenborough's "Life" series: The Living Planet and The Trials of Life, respectively. The study of rocks and their ancient secrets was something of a boyhood passion for David Attenborough. In these programmes, his enthusiasm for the subject is undiminished. With the help of expert palaeontologists, fossil hunters and (for the time) modern animation techniques, Attenborough attempts to show how life evolved in Earth's distant past. To do so, he travels the globe to visit the world's most famous fossil sites.

Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives
2004 DVD box cover by 2 Entertain
GenreDocumentary television
Written byDavid Attenborough
Presented byDavid Attenborough
Theme music composerTerry Oldfield
Composer(s)Terry Oldfield
Country of originEngland
Original language(s)English, Spanish
No. of series1
No. of episodes4
Executive producer(s)Mike Salisbury
CinematographyGraham Frake
Editor(s)Colin Cradock
Camera setupStephen Bolwell, Jim Harris
Production company(s)BBC Bristol, TBS
DistributorBBC (TV), 2 Entertain (DVD)
Original networkBBC Two
Original release23 April 
14 May 1989
Preceded byThe First Eden (1987)
Followed byThe Trials of Life (1990)
External links
BBC Two Programmes – Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives


2 Entertain published the series on DVD (catalog number BBCDVD1466) on 27 September 2004.

List of episodes

No.TitleOriginal air date
1"Magic in the Rocks"23 April 1989 (1989-04-23)

A picture of prehistoric life emerges, as Attenborough unearths several major clues in the form of fossilised remains that were undiscovered for millennia.

2"Putting Flesh on Bone"30 April 1989 (1989-04-30)

Attenborough explores vanished lives of prehistoric creatures and using the latest evidence, scientists reconstruct a pterodactyl in the form of a model aircraft—to see if such a beast could indeed have flown.

3"Dinosaur"7 May 1989 (1989-05-07)

Attenborough visits several museums of natural history. With the aid of dinosaur skeletons, he demonstrates how they existed in real life, and speculates about the reasons for their sudden demise.

4"The Rare Glimpses"14 May 1989 (1989-05-14)

Four famous locations that have the most suitable conditions for fossilisation are explored. Not only are common animals preserved, but also plants and other, seldom-seen creatures.

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