Larger than Life Lizards on WXXI-TV

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 8:00pm - 11:00pm

Pictured: Adult perentie (Varanus giganteus)

Credit: Malcolm Ludgate

WXXI presents three programs highlighting the largest lizards to walk the planet both millions of years ago and today.

Tune in Wednesday, July 27 at 8 p.m. for NOVA "Lizard Kings", 9 p.m. for NOVA "Arctic Dinosaurs" and 10 p.m. for Dinosaur Wars: American Experience on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 11/cable 1011).

NOVA "Lizard Kings"

Though they may look like dragons and inspire stories of man-eating, fire-spitting monsters with long claws, razor-sharp teeth and muscular, whip-like tails, these creatures are actually monitor lizards, the largest lizards to walk the planet. With their acute intelligence — including the ability to plan — these lizards are a very different kind of reptile, blurring the line between reptiles and mammals.

NOVA "Arctic Dinosaurs"

How is it that dinosaurs have managed to survive and even thrive in the gloom of the dark and frigid polar regions? This is one of the most intriguing enigmas in paleontology. And now, a unique field expedition to Alaska will utilize extreme engineering and perilous fossil hunting to defrost a jackpot of new fossil clues. With the help of stunning CGI, NOVA breathes life into the polar dinosaurs' lives and environment in vivid detail.

Dinosaur Wars: American Experience

In the summer of 1868, paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh boarded a Union Pacific train for a sight-seeing excursion through the heart of the newly-opened American West. While most passengers simply saw magnificent landscapes, Marsh soon realized he was traveling through the greatest dinosaur burial ground of all time. Ruthless, jealous, and insanely competitive, Marsh would wrestle over the discovery with the other leading paleontologist of his generation—Edward Drinker Cope. Over time, the two rivals would uncover the remains of dozens of prehistoric animals, including 130 dinosaur species, collect thousands of specimens, provide ample evidence to prove Charles Darwin’s hotly disputed theory of evolution, and put American science on the world stage.  But their professional rivalry eventually spiraled out of control. What began with denigrating comments in scientific publications, led to espionage, the destruction of fossils, and political maneuvering that ultimately left both men alone and almost penniless.