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Re: Has anyone seen the movie 10,000 BC?

I posted a message to the Vertebrate Paleo mailing list last March 4 after watching an advanced screening, so I'm re-posting it here:

I watched a radio station-sponsored screening last night, so I have a chance to sound off on what I saw. If you don't want parts of the story spoiled, read no further.

This movie is not meant to be taken as historically accurate (and as it turns out, it is not even paleogeographically accurate), so set your expectations accordingly.

The amount of actual screen time given to animals is not that high?comparable to the dinosaur screen time on Jurassic Park. Three (possibly four) fossil species are depicted: Mammuthus primigenius, Titanis walleri, and Smilodon (populator?). M. primigenius appears early in the movie, as a herd traveling through the tundra. When the ambush starts, they all start running. Not fast walking where contact with the ground is maintained at all times, but running with all feet off the ground.

A few phorusrachid birds appear in the middle of the movie, in a dense thicket populated by tallgrass and bamboos. I presume they're T. walleri due to their size and the dating of the movie, and they are depicted with fully feathered forelimbs/arms. They're seen climbing up trees with their beak and feet following the protagonist, and are able to snap bamboo with their beaks with ease. Are their talons recurved enough to permit climbing?

A Smilodon is shown caught in a hunter's pit, with several vultures (Gymnogyps?) feeding on impaled carcasses, and is freed by the main character. In a scene reminiscent of the Greek story of Androcles and the lion, it does not attack the human but scrabbles its way out of the pit. Later, when the North American tribal hunters encounter an African tribal village and are confronted by the locals, the same Smilodon shows up, smells the one who freed him, then leaves without hurting anyone. A Smilodon in north Africa. Or perhaps north- and eastwards to Palestine or Arabia, to account for the travels of the main characters (who apparently tracked their enemies from North America, across the Bering land bridge, to Asia and Africa where they finally end up in Egypt).

The construction of the pyramids involved several mammoths for labor. They appear identical to M. primigenius except for the sparse body hair. I don't know if they are in fact M. primigenius brought all the way to Egypt, or another species native to the area or surrounding regions. And again, when the heroes incite a slave riot, the mammoths break free and cause a stampede, again running (not walking) down the ramp and crushing humans caught in their path.

And that's it. There are a lot of anthropological and archaeological questions on this movie as well (Tibetans in Egypt? At least I assume they're Tibetans based on my scarce knowledge of their dress.), but for paleontologists that's what its serving to the viewing public. A check at the official website http://www.10000bcmovie.com/ doesn't show any of the animals identified with scientific names.

Raymond Ancog
Mines and Geosciences Bureau