On June 19, Join Top Scientists on a Global Adventure to Unlock the Evolutionary Secrets of Four Iconic Creatures

Scientist Bhart-Anjan Bhullar shares a crocodilian fossil at Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut. The museum hosts the third-largest paleontology collection in the U.S. / Image courtesy of Twin Cities PBS

Created in a first-ever partnership between PBS and Smithsonian Channel, When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time is a two-hour film tracing the epic origin stories of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures. The program takes viewers on a global adventure as top scientists investigate clues from the fossil record and use 21st-century technology to unlock the evolutionary secrets of crocodiles, birds, whales, and elephants. Using innovative storytelling techniques, 3D graphics, and CGI to bring ancient beasts to life, When Whales Walked offers surprising insights into the evolution of these magnificent animals, exploding myths about the path these species took over millions of years.

The Connecticut Connection

When Whales Walked also features a Connecticut connection: Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, assistant professor and assistant curator in Yale University’s Geology and Geophysics Department, will be featured in the film, as will  Jacques Gauthier, professor, curator, vertebrate paleontologist, and comparative morphologist at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Watch for Bhullar in the “Crocodiles” section of the film, and for Gauthier in the “Birds” section.

View a Trailer for When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time

When to Watch the Show

Narrated by actor Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit), When Whales Walked will premiere Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 9 p.m. on CPTV and can be simultaneously streamed on PBS.org.  It will encore on CPTV on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at 12 p.m.

Dorudon was an early whale ancestor that both baleen and toothed whales evolved from, as seen on When Whales Walked: Journeys In Deep Time. / Image courtesy of Twin Cities PBS

Evoking awe and wonder, When Whales Walked contains startling revelations about the ancient ancestors of animals still alive today. One early croc relative was built like a greyhound, ancient whales walked on four legs, and the earliest ancestor of the elephant was the size of a rabbit. Birds arose from feathered dinosaurs — in fact, they are dinosaurs — and went on to colonize the natural world as well as the urban spaces created by humans. But the end of the story has yet to be written, and the film sounds an alarm about the dangers each of these survivors faces. Exploring the mystery and majesty of these amazing animals, When Whales Walked reminds us that their future lies in the hands of humans.

Join a Live Facebook Event Before you Watch the Show

When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time is a major initiative in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, which opened the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time on June 8, 2019. PBS and Smithsonian Channel will also broadcast a live event on Facebook from the new exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2019 at 9:30 p.m. and get special after-hours access and an up-close look at unique fossils in the hall, including “the Nation’s T-Rex.”

The livestream will be hosted by PBS Digital Studios’ Kallie Moore and Hans Sues, the museum’s Senior Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, who will be on hand to answer audience questions in real time. Viewers can stream the event on the Facebook pages of Smithsonian Channel, PBS, the National Museum of Natural History, and PBS Digital Studios.


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