Saturday, July 26, 2014

Perseverance of the Beest

Howdy folks! I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer, or winter, if you're in the southern hemisphere. After wrapping up my overview of Primeval season 2, last week, I decided to do an article about an animal. As usual, I also have exciting news regarding Jurassic World, the third sequel to Jurassic Park.

Now is a great opportunity to talk about my latest stop-motion project. As you might recall, I am in the midst of my stop-motion series called "Animal Face-Off" season 2 and I'm in the post-production phase of the fourth episode: "Lion vs. Nile Crocodile". It's a really cool episode and can't wait till it's finished. As it's approximately 75% finished, I hope to upload it to YouTube on Saturday, so I'll post it onto the blog next week.

Days till:
It is: 37 days till Labor Day
It is: 47 days till Patriot Day
It is: 48 days till Dolphin Tale 2's theatrical release.

In the Spotlight
After last week's buzz, we have more exciting news about Jurassic World this week. This film will have a panel at the San Diego Comic-Con this week! We don't know when or where, but the film's director, Colin Trevorrow, confirmed Jurassic World will appear at the event, between the 24-27th of this month. I'm so stoked! I'm really hoping that there will be a teaser trailer at the event. Of course, the trailer won't show much, but it will be nice to see an official trailer at all.

On Twitter Colin Trevorrow also revealed a beautiful poster that will be at the event. The artist of the poster, Mark Englert, has tweeted instructions on how anyone interested can own of this exclusive; just text JURASSIC to 834567 and specific instructions will be given! Here is the poster below:

This is the first official poster for Jurassic World . . . and there's a raptor!
As you can see, the poster beautifully portrays the construction of the new theme park, Jurassic World in the background; dinosaurs are being brought into the park as well via helicopter (Triceratops and Stegosaurus by the looks of it). In the foreground, however, lurks a Velociraptor, standing atop the same jeep that fell out of tree and "pursued" Tim Murphy and Dr. Alan Grant in the first film. In the car, a nest of raptor eggs can be seen. There are many subtle messages in this poster.

Firstly, the raptor in the picture doesn't appear to be the same coloration as the one leaked onto the internet a few weeks ago, which was green with black stripes. This difference in coloration could be due to the difference in genders. The one in the poster above is most likely female, as evidenced by the clutch of eggs beneath her, while the male is more brightly colored. Another possibility is that this is a different breed of raptors from the green one or maybe, the lighting in the poster only makes it look a different color.

Another thing I that got me more curious about the movie is the nest of raptor eggs. Now, it seems unlikely that this raptor is one of the dinosaurs Chris Pratt's character is conducting behavioral studies on. Why? Well, it doesn't look like it's contained! It appears to be a wild raptor. Could this be one of the raptors that was already living on Isla Nublar before Jurassic World's construction? If so, maybe that perimeter fence around the park isn't only to keep dinosaurs contained, but also to keep wild dinosaur out. This also begs the question: are there other dinosaurs outside the park boundaries? Dilophosaurus? Brachiosaurus? Troodon? Who knows?

All I know is that this movie seems like it's going to be one word: AWESOME!!! I especially can't wait to see ferocious packs of Velociraptor in action after it comes into theaters on July 12, 2015 . . . that's only about 324 days away.

In additional news, others things have taken place concerning Jurassic World: actress Courtney James Clark has joined the Jurassic World cast, Chris Pratt has finished filming all of his scenes in the movie and, as puts it, "The filming of Jurassic World is coming to an end." That in and of itself is unbelievable! Why? Well, this movie has been in production for 12 years! 12 long years! I have been waiting for this movie to come out for 8 years, when I first fell in love with one of the greatest dinosaur franchises of all time. Now the filming process is finally ending on August 6th. That's 14 days! Wow, I can't believe it. This movie is finally being made!
12 years after Jurassic Park III, Velociraptors will kill a lot of people stalk the scene once again, in Jurassic World.

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
The blue wildebeest
The strange-looking animal we will be looking at today is called the wildebeest. Even if you've never been to Africa, the chances are that you've seen these creatures, probably in movies (Lion King, anyone?) or in television documentaries. Every year, some of these amazing creatures make long migrations across the African savanna in search of fresh grazing. It's a long and dangerous journey, but many wildebeest are urged to keep moving along on the longest migration of any land animal. Keep reading to learn more about this amazing animal.
The wildebeest is also called the "gnu", after the sound is often makes.
Though it looks a little like a cow on a diet, wildebeest (also known as gnu due to some of the sounds they make) are actually a species of antelope! However, they are still in the bovidae family. Other animals in this family are cows, antelope (obviously), goats, sheep, buffalo and many other hoofed mammals. Did you know that there are two species of wildebeest? There's the black wildebeest and the blue wildebeest. When most people think of a wildebeest, the blue wildebeest comes to mind. Blue wildebeests are larger and their horns protrude from the side of the skull and curve downwards before curving upwards at the tips. Black wildebeest are smaller than their cousins and their horns curve forwards and downward before curving upward at the tips. As their names suggest, they are also differently colored: blue wildebeests are normally a dark gray color (sometimes they'll have a bluish sheen, hence their name) and stripes; black wildebeest are brown in color. Today, we'll focus on the blue wildebeest.
The black wildebeest has different-shaped horns and is darker in color than its blue cousin.

The blue wildebeest is the creature that comes to mind when most people think of wildebeest.
The males of blue wildebeest are larger than the females and are eight feet in length and stand up to five feet tall at the shoulder. They weigh between 265-600 pounds in weight. These antelopes are herbivores and are found throughout the open woodlands and savannas of eastern, southern and central Africa, specifically the Serengeti in Tanzania and Kenya.

The wildebeest's range.
Wildebeest live in large herds sometimes numbering in their millions; they are very gregarious creatures. You probably are already aware of the fact that wildebeests are herbivores. They like nothing better than to graze on lush grass in the mornings and late afternoons. The hottest parts of the day are sometimes spent resting. Sometimes, it can be too hot, even for a wildebeest! However, wildebeest will often forage at night. These bizarre-looking bovids are often spotted grazing with herds of zebra. This has many advantages: 1) zebras are very alert animals and are likely to spot danger if it approaches. 2) Zebras like eating the top layer of grass – the canopy – and this exposes the lower, greener and more nutritious grass beneath, which is what wildebeest like eating most. Cool, huh? Wildebeests often eat a lot of grass, and in the dry season, this can mean they've stripped the area of good grazing. When the amount of drinking water starts to diminish, they are urged to take a migration to greener pastures.
As evidenced by this picture, zebras often congregate with herds of wildebeest.
Not all wildebeests migrate – black wildebeest herds and herds of non-territorial bachelor blue wildebeest males don't migrate – but most herds of blue wildebeest do. Once the dry season is upon them, thousands or millions of these hoofed-mammals migrate northward toward the smell of fresh, well-watered grass; the migrations normally take place in May or June. This is a grueling journey of about 500-1,000 miles round trip each year – the longest migration of any land animal. The migration begins soon after calving, when another marvel of nature takes place: did you know that 80% of wildebeest calves are born in the same two or three week period. This makes it impossible for predators to eat all the babies, therefore ensuring survival of their species.

Wildebeest will travel 500-1000 miles every year in search of fresh grazing.
Wildebeest show much perseverance in their search for fresh grazing and drinking water. It's a dangerous journey too: calves are often picked off by predators such as jackals and even baboons. This is why God designed the young of bovids to be able to walk and run soon after birth – a baby wildebeest is able to stand within six minutes of birth, walk in thirty minutes and can outrun a hyena within that same day! It's also important to note that female wildebeest typically give birth in the middle of the day, when predators are least active. 80% of wildebeest calves survive their first month in large herds, while only 50% survive in smaller herds.
Baby wildebeest can walk within thirty minutes of birth!
Adult wildebeests have their share of predators too: lions, hyenas, leopards and painted dogs all enjoy wildebeest flesh and these predators will often follow and/or wait for the wildebeest herds as they migrate. If they hunt in a small group, cheetahs can cause a problem for wildebeest too. Wildebeests are fast runners however, reaching speeds of 50 mph! As you may have seen in some documentaries, wildebeest often have to cross rivers to reach greener pastures. But there's danger in these rivers: crocodiles – some of which might not have eaten since the wildebeest's last migration – lie in wait. But the wildebeest have a tactic to protect at least most of the herd when crossing crocodile-infested rivers. When they leap into the river, they like to cross in “swarms”, making it harder for crocodiles to pick off an individual. Normally predators pick off the weak, young, sick or injured members of the herds.
Wildebeest often cross dangerous waters on their migration routes.
Even though many wildebeest die during migration, most of then survive to reach their destination. But when the dry season ends, it's time for the wildebeest herd to make the other half of their journey, back to the Serengeti, where the dangerous migration began.

Wildebeest are the favorite prey for many large carnivores.
In order to keep moving to find green pastures, wildebeest must persevere, even when it's tough and there are predators waiting practically everywhere hoping to catch them. Did you know that God also wants us to persevere? One that stuck out to me was Romans 12:12. It reads: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” The author of Romans is an important apostle named Paul (who's name was changed to Saul after God turned his life around). Paul lived a good life before becoming a Christian. Many people probably thought very highly of him because he liked to persecute many of those early Christians of the first century. However, one day on the road to Damascus, God called Paul to be an apostle and ever since, Paul was a man of God. Many didn't like this too much. Paul went through many hardships as he served the Lord, even until his eventual death because of his faith. He wrote the book of Romans when he was in prison, and even there, he was urging fellow Christians to not give up on serving the Lord, even when under afflictions.

As Christians, we face many hardships. Maybe they're not as bad as the hardships Paul faced, but they're still hardships. God wants us to persevere and keep on doing what He wants us to do. But what does God want us to do to serve Him? Well, there is no one answer to this, as they vary depending on the particular person. God might want you to witness to a particular person or do an outreach project at church. Sometimes such activities can bring ridicule from others and in some countries, imprisonment and death. Why should we be “patient in affliction”? Well, another Bible verse sums this up very nicely: Hebrews 10:36 says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Just like a wildebeest, we must persevere toward the final goal until our destination is reached. Next week, think of some ways you can be “patient in affliction” and show Perseverance of the Beest for Jesus Christ!

Perseverance of the Beest
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please be sure to subscribe to my blog, leave a comment in the comment box below and I'll see you guys next week!

Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via one or both of the email addresses above.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Primeval Season 2 -- pt. 3: The Creatures

Hi everyone! Today we've got, as usual, lots of news concerning Jurassic World, the upcoming Jurassic Park sequel. Every piece of news I get makes me more and more excited about it! Anyway, before we get to that, let's see how long it is till our favorite holidays and movie releases . . . or mine anyway, and let me tell you a little bit about the stop-motion I'm working on.

Many of you might be aware that I started Animal Face-Off season 2 a couple of months ago. I figured that I should probably put my progress here on my blog. The last episode I finished was "Polar Bear vs. Walrus." My next episode will be "Lion vs. Nile Crocodile", and it's about 45% finished. That doesn't sound like much, but I've finished taking almost all the photographs I'll need before I can move on to the post-production stage (editing and voice recording). I'll start back posting my progress of my stop-motion films on this blog.

Days till:
It is: 45 days till Labor Day
It is: 57 days till Patriot Day
It is: 59 days till Dolphin Tale 2's release

In the Spotlight:
As promised, some awesome news has been leaked onto the internet by someone on Twitter. He has been able to obtain what appears to be a brochure that was given to extras who were filmed in Jurassic World (my research suggests that the movie-makers let the extras keep the brochures). It is thanks to these brochures that we are now able to know what attractions and (best of all) dinosaurs will be appearing in the park! Here are the photographs from the brochure below:

The cover of the Jurassic World brochure . . . brought to you by FedEx!
There are lots of cool attractions at Jurassic World. I'm really curious as to what dinosaurs will be in the "Gentle Giants Petting Zoo".
There's also plenty of other things to do while you're here.
At last, the dinosaurs of Jurassic World!!!
Obviously, the thing that excites me most is that we know now what dinosaurs to expect in Jurassic World: Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Baryonyx, Dimorphodon (not a dinosaur), Edmontosaurus, Gallimimus, Metriacanthosaurus, Microceratus, Mosasaurus (also not a dinosaur), Pachycephalosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Pteranodon (again, not a dinosaur), Stegosaurus, Suchomimus, Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus.

Here is another picture posted on Twitter that shows the map of the park. This map has been confirmed to be legitimize because it can be seen in the recent Today Show video in which a tourist is holding this very map:

You might have noticed that Velociraptors and Diabolus rex are absent from the list of dinosaurs and the map. But these dinosaurs have been confirmed to be in the film, so where are they? Well, we know that the Chris Pratt's character is studying the behavior of the raptors, so they are probably in a different part of the island, away from the tourists (why would areas prohibited to tourists be on a tourist map). Diabolus is a genetic experiment and not ready for the public, so it also would be in a different part of the island.

There might also be people wondering where the other dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park franchise are, such as: Compsognathus, Spinosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Corythosaurus and Memenchisaurus. Also, where are other dinosaurs that are referenced to, but not seen in the films or make an appearance in Jurassic Park: The Game (JP:TG is canon with the films), such as: Herrerasaurus and Troodon. Well, Memenchisaurus, Corythosaurus and Spinosaurus are only evidenced to exist on a different island that we see in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III: Isla Sorna. Jurassic World will take place on Isla Nublar. But what about the others that have been evidenced to exist on Isla Nublar? Well, they could very well still exist there. As you can see from the map, there are still several pockets of undisturbed areas of Nublar, especially in the north.

And just because a dinosaur isn't on the list or seen on the map doesn't mean it won't appear in the film. Compsognathus was one dinosaur on Isla Nublar that was a non-listed species in the original park. There's a rumor circulating that original buildings from the first JP movie might be shown, so perhaps this is where a creature like Dilophosaurus could make an appearence.

As you've probably already, guessed, I can't wait for Jurassic World to roar into theaters on June 12, 2015.

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Alright folks, it's time for the third part of my overview of the BBC series Primeval Season 2. A few weeks ago, we looked at each of the episodes in the series, then we learned a bit about each of the main characters. This week, we'll be looking at the creatures of Primeval Season 2. Hope you all like it:

Cretaceous . . . theropod dinosaur. Genuine article.”
– Nick Cutter
Raptors are my favorite dinosaurs and the most dangerous in the series.
Quite appropriately, the first extinct creature to make an appearance in Primeval Season 2 is one of my absolute favorite creatures in the entire series: the raptors! Straight from the forests of the Cretaceous (the habitat, not the fictitious time period), these dinosaurs cause an awful lot of trouble after exiting an anomaly into present-day London. In Episode 2.1, three raptors – a male, a female and a youngster come out of an anomaly in a shopping center bowling alley. Raptors are extremely dangerous dinosaurs: standing about as tall as a man, they have dozens of needle-sharp teeth, keen eyes, a good sense of smell, a relatively large brain, grasping hands, long tails used for balance and their most lethal weapons was a sickle-shaped, enlarged toe claw on each foot for disemboweling a victim. The raptors in Primeval will hunt either alone or in packs, often a loose social structure. They also appear to take care of their young and will defend them from other predators. But raptors don't always get along: sometimes older members of the species will cannibalize younger raptors. Males of this species are stronger and more aggressive than females – one individual took three tranquilizers to bring it down! Strange quills are found on the back and neck of these creatures and are able to produce a rattling sound when the animal is about to attack. Raptors – even juveniles – are definitely more than capable of bringing down a human being, as Nick Cutter states. These dinosaurs are one of the most commonly appearing animals in the series. Connor Temple has a great deal of trouble trying to tranquilize a baby raptor at one point in Episode 2.1. The raptors of Primeval belong to the family of dinosaurs called dromaeosaurs, aka, raptors, and there are many different species, from the possibly venomous Sinornithosaurus, to the infamous Velociraptor, to the grizzly bear-sized Utahraptor. The species of raptor that appears in this series isn't ever revealed. However, due to its size and appearance, it appears to be Deinonychus, one of the most dangerous of the dromaeosaurs and was the inspiration for the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The raptors turn out to be quite tenacious animals, even to the point of one individual (SPOILER ALERT!!!) grabs hold of Stephen's leg when he tries to exit the ancient world via an anomaly as the anomaly starts to close. Nick, Abby and Connor successfully rescue Stephan just before the anomaly closes, but the raptor isn't so fortunate and its head is decapitated when the anomaly closes. (END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!) It looks like Nick Cutter and the gang will have their work cut out for them!

Precambrian Worm
They're worms, they're just a little less friendly than the ones in your garden.
– Nick Cutter
Precambrian Worms are just like the worms in your garden . . . just less friendly!
Worms – some people hate them and think of them only as little wiggly creepy things that live in gardens. If you think of worms in this matter, then your mind will change drastically once you hear about the Precambrian Worms of Primeval! In Episode 2.2, a Precambrian (habitat) anomaly opens and releases not only a strange and sulfurous fog, but also a deadly bunch of these worms. These worms – which look a little like giant sea cucumbers – are dangerous predators that have large, plump bodies and an extendible proboscis with teeth, which they use for prey capture. They're blind and use their good sense of smell to get around their world. They sometimes spit a special liquid on their intended prey, presumably to help them sniff it out later. These are the first creatures encountered by the skeptical Jenny Lewis, the ARC's new public relations manager, who doesn't believe extinct creatures roam the present day at first. At first, Cutter has her remain outside of worm-infested office building while he and his team – Stephen, Abby and Connor – try to get rid of the carnivorous worms. However, Jenny eventually gets Cutter to allow her in and when (SPOILER ALERT!!!) she disobeys Cutter's orders to take the stairs rather than the elevator, she is ferociously attacked by a worm, only to be saved by Cutter. Jenny in turn also saves Cutter from a worm attack, though he doesn't appear to be to grateful. Cutter and his team find out after rescuing a firefighter from the worms, that the worms can only live within the fog from their native habitat. Upon exiting the fog, they suffocate and die. So naturally, the problem the team has is to clear the building of fog by opening the windows, but since everything like that is controlled by computers, the only way to get the windows open is by going to the floor of the building with lots of fog, and lots of worms. Worst of all, Stephen gets separated from the group . . . can he use his wits to survive?

It's a Smilodon; better known as a saber-toothed cat. Fast, elegant, it's a real-natural born killer.
– Nick Cutter
Smilodons are famous for their seven-inch saber-teeth.
There's no such thing as a saber-toothed tiger. The creatures we often refer to when we use this name are actually called saber-toothed cats, as they are not closely related to tigers. There are many different species of saber-toothed cats, but the species that appears in Primeval is the most popular: Smilodon (this is the saber-toothed cat you normally see depicted in popular culture). These cats are some of the most ferocious killers that ever stalked the earth, complete with sharp claws and the ability to run quite fast over short distances. Their most lethal weapons were the dagger-like canines which grew up to seven inches long. However, they were quite fragile and used to deliver a killing blow to the neck of its prey. Despite the ARC not getting a signal from the anomaly detector, the death of a man at the nearby Blue Sky Park paint-balling area suggests that a previously extinct creature is roaming the area in Episode 2.3. Cutter and the team quickly find out that the killer is a Smilodon. After refusing to close his park due to upsetting the park guests, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) the park owner, Peter Campbell, is savagely killed by the ferocious cat the following night. Pretty soon, Cutter, Abby and Connor find a dead victim of the Smilodon buried 10 feet under the ground, suggesting that someone is trying to cover up for the animal. It isn't long before Cutter finds out that the Smilodon actually came through an anomaly many years before (which is why Connor's anomaly detector didn't pick up an anomaly) as a cub and was reared to adulthood by Valerie Irwin, the park ranger for the Blue Sky Park, who believed the Smilodon was some government genetic experiment. In fact, she's grown very attached to the cat and treats it like an overgrown house cat. Unfortunately, while she attempts to protect the beast from Cutter, her precious pet turns on and kills her in seconds before being darted by Abby. Later in the episode, Leek informs Cutter that the animal died. However, in Episode 2.6/2.7, it is revealed that Leek lied about the death of the cat; he in fact kept it and another Smilodon for his animal army in his creature prison. (END OF SPOILER ALERT)

Mer Creature
So to sum it up then, we're looking for a deadly skin-shedding aquatic predator with a neat lineage in Charlotte Church impressions.
– James Lester

Mer Creatures are primates that spend much of their time underwater.
Up until Episode 2.4, the Future Predator is the only creature from the future to be seen in Primeval. This all changes when the mer creature (or mer for short) snatch away Lucien Hope and store him in their lair to consume at a later date. These strange seal or walrus-like creatures appear to be large aquatic primates. They are quite intelligent and live in groups, dominated by an alpha female: the Mer Queen. However, even though they live in groups, they don't often get along, as they are sometimes observed fighting amongst themselves. In Episode 2.4, after stealing Lucien, the same Mer takes Abby – who was previously having a fight with Connor – as well to their underground lair in a warehouse, which had flooded due to water flowing in through the anomaly. Connor is distressed when this happens, as the last thing he said to Abby was something during their argument. Cutter and Stephen also have a disagreement during the episode as to where the Mer went: Cutter believes it returned to the canal while Stephen thinks it's in the sewer system. Mers create beautiful whale-like songs to communicate with other members of their species, but this sound is deceptive, as the animal won't hesitate to attack a potential threat.

Silurian Scorpion
Instead of possessing a stinger, Silurian Scorpions have whip-like tails!
If you thought the giant Carboniferous arachnids in Season 1 were bad, just wait until you check out the dangerous Siluruan scorpions! In Primeval, these desert-dwelling arachnids are around 25 feet in length (there's no evidence that scorpions ever got this big in real life however) and, unlike modern scorpions, these critters don't have real stingers. Instead, they possess whip-like tails (similar to the ones found on modern whip scorpions), which they like to project above ground and are often mistaken as snakes. This is a big mistake made by a group of Leek's mercenaries in Episode 2.5 when they enter an anomaly. Most of them are quickly killed by the giant scorpions. These predators prefer to spend their time underneath the sand; in order to find food, they rely on vibrations caused by potential prey and then home in on the target and snap it up with their strong pincers. The only way to successfully escape them is by climbing onto large rocks or tiptoeing across the sand, hoping they won't feel the vibrations . . . personally, I feel these creatures are best left alone!

Coelurosauravus (Rex)
Rex the Coelurosauravus is back in Season 2!
The cute little Coelurosauravus from Season 1, named Rex, is back in Season 2. He still makes his home in Abby's apartment . . . much to the disgust of Connor's new girlfriend, Caroline. The gliding lizard dislikes Caroline from the start and promptly snaps at her when she tries to pet him. At one point, she even locks the poor coldblooded Rex in a freezer! In Episode 2.4, when Connor – who feels he and Caroline aren't a good match – breaks up with her (by text, as I might remind you!), she appears to become jealous and (SPOILER ALERT!!!) and steals Rex to give him to Leek so he can add the animal to his creature army. (END OF SPOILER ALERT) For more information on Rex, please visit the links given at the bottom of this post.

Columbian Mammoth
Why is everyone telling me mammoth facts today? Do I look interested?
– James Lester
The Columbian mammoth is one of the largest land mammals ever.
The woolly mammoth is the most famous Ice Age animal of them all, next to the Smilodon. There were many different species of mammoths at one time, but the largest was the mighty Columbian mammoth, and it makes its Primeval debut in Episode 2.6. The creature storms out of an anomaly from the Ice Age and rampages on the M25. Chaos ensues as the stressed out creature makes a lot of noise and tramples and/or flips cars over. Jenny is going to have an interesting time trying to make a cover story for this incident! The Columbian mammoth differs from the woolly mammoth in many ways: besides being larger, it had longer tusks, probably lacked hair (as stated by Oliver Leek) and had a more southern range than its woollier cousin. In fact, numerous Columbian mammoths have been found in Los Angeles' La Brea Tar Pits. Female and baby mammoths were social creatures, but the males, like modern bull elephants and the individual in Primeval, were mostly loners. When Cutter, Abby and Connor arrive on the scene, they (SPOILER ALERT!!!) try to get it through the anomaly, but it closes and they're forced to change their plan: they lure the mammoth into a lorry using female elephant urine. At first, Lester isn't too fond of keeping the 8-10 ton behemoth in the ARC. When Abby begins to tell him about the dexterity of a mammoth's trunk, Lester could care less and utters the quote which can be seen above. Later though, when Lester battles a Future Predator in the ARC, he is saved in the nick of time by the mighty mammal and after the incident is over, he tells Cutter (in his usually sarcastic fashion) that his kids had been “pestering him for a pet, if they can't find a home for him.” (END OF SPOILER ALERT) Despite being a dangerous creature on the M25, the mammoth is quite docile when not frightened, as is seen when Abby feeds the creature some food.

Arthropleura (This whole bio is a spoiler alert)
Arthropleura makes a cameo appearance in Season 2.
The Arthropleura from Season 1 makes a comeback in Season 2 for a brief cameo appearance. Like a number of other extinct creatures, this arthropod was gathered for use in Leek's creature army. For more information on Arthropleura, see its fact file I wrote for its Season 1 appearance by viewing one of the links near the bottom of this post.

Scutosaurus (This whole bio is a spoiler alert)
Scutosaurus make a cameo appearance in Season 2.

The Scutosaurus from Season 1 makes a comeback in Season 2 for a brief cameo appearance. Like a number of other extinct creatures, two of these elephant-sized reptiles was gathered for use in Leek's creature army. Upon escaping their containment, Jenny makes one of them rampage toward one of Leek's guards, trampling him to death and allowing her, Abby, Connor and Caroline to get past. For more information on Scutosaurus, see its fact file I wrote for its Season 1 appearance by viewing one of the links near the bottom of this post.

Future Predator
[An] . . . ambush predator; intelligent, adaptable, ruthless.
– Helen Cutter
Future Predators are some of the most dangerous predators ever to exist!
Perhaps the most terrible creature ever to appear in Primeval is the nefarious Future Predator. As we learned from Season 1, they appear to have descended from modern bats due to natural selection. The future predator is a fast and ruthless killer; they are also very agile, able to jump and leap around like an animal of much smaller size. They bear sharp teeth and claws. However, future predators are blind; they find their way around by using their sensitive hearing, sense of smell and echolocation. Like modern bats, future predators send out high-frequency sounds that bump off of objects in their environment before returning to the creature's ears, forming a clear picture of their surroundings. (SPOILER ALERT!!!) In Episode 2.6, a future predator is released into the ARC by Leek in an attempt to have Lester killed. However, Lester is able to find his way to the armory room and fends off the predator with a gun for a while. Unfortunately, he isn't able to keep it up for long . . . but that's when he releases the Columbian mammoth from its containment! As the future predator attacks, it is suddenly stabbed by one of the mammoth's tusks, killed instantly. Cutter learns that Leek and Helen have used technology from the future in order to create neural clamps which can control the predators. The ARC team eventually finds out (after Leek holds Cutter, Abby, Connor, Caroline and Jenny captive) that Leek has an army of dozens of predators under his control, who he contends are – when under control – are no more dangerous than an automobile. He intends to use his army of creatures to take over the world! Unfortunately for him, Cutter is able to cause a short circuit in the electrical system and escapes as Leek looses control over his predators. They then attack and tear Leek to shreds. (END OF SPOILER ALERT).

I really enjoyed Season 2 of Primeval, and I hope you all enjoyed my overview of the series. If you think this series would interest you, don't hesitate to check it out! It's awesome! I don't know when, but I also plan to do something similar for Season 3 of this series. Can't wait to do it. Anyway, see you all next week!

PS 1: Have a puzzling question about animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, my stop-motion movies, Creation or etc? Please post your question as a comment or send me an email at

PS 2: What’s the latest scoop? Check it out at SMILEY’S NEWS.

PS 3: Click here for more information on the first season of Primeval: Episodes, Characters and Creatures.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Primeval Season 2 -- pt. 2: The Characters

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! I know I did! I went to see some awesome fireworks. I especially love the ones that are really loud, earthshaking and so bright that the ground beneath them is lit up. Now, without further ado, let's move on to our "usuals" before continuing with my overview of the British television series, Primeval, season 2.

Days till:
It is: 52 days till Labor Day
It is: 62 days till Patriot's Day
It is: days till Dolphin Tale 2's release!

In the Spotlight:

We've got a lot of new images from what's going on concerning Jurassic World (Jurassic Park IV) this week. This first update is a little late, as you might recall, the film crew for the movie is now shooting in New Orleans and this is where some photos from the set were taken. You can view them below:

This set is portraying a cold and snowy winter in Wisconsin. We can't say for sure just yet, but it appears from my sources that the house in the pictures above will be the home of Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinsons and Judy Greer's character's. Perhaps we'll be seeing some scenes of the family before they leave for Isla Nublar.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, perhaps what is some of the most exciting Jurassic World news to date . . . you know how there's been a lot of news regarding cast and the movie's plot lately? Well, perhaps a recent image leaked onto the internet actually breaks the trend. An image recently appeared on the internet and it is claimed to show how my favorite dinosaur in the series: Velociraptor, will appear in the movie! This appears to be our actual first look at a dinosaur from Jurassic World!

Frankly, I'm really excited to finally see a dinosaur from the film! Of course, we need to take this news with a grain of salt, but my sources confirm that it's more than likely that this is in fact the raptor from Jurassic World.

The image you can see above appears to be of a Velociraptor antirrhopus nublarensis, the raptors from the first and second film (it is believed that the raptors in the third Jurassic Park movie are V. a. sorensis, a different subspecies due to differences in size, head shape and behavior). The color of this dinosaur varies from the raptors in the other movies: it's a green color with black stripes. Perfect for camouflage. It makes sense if this raptor's coloration is different from the ones in the other movies if they are cloning a new batch of raptors for Chris Pratt's character to study in the upcoming movie. We don't know if both male and female Velociraptors will have this appearance in Jurassic World, but right now, who cares? It's (most likely) a dinosaur from Jurassic World and it's got a cool color scheme! What could me more exciting then that? Oh, escaping from of these beasts alive, perhaps.

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Now it's time for a description of the main characters of Primeval season 2. Most of the characters are the same from season 1, but there are a few characters from season 1 that are absent and some new additions, who you'll read more about below.

(From left to right) Abby Maitland, Connor Temple, Nick Cutter and Stephen Hart will be facing deadly creatures, such as the pair of ferocious raptors seen behind them.

Nick Cutter
Stephen: "Are you sure you're alright?"
Nick: "Under the circumstances I'd say I was doing very well."
―Stephen questions Cutter's sanity.
Stephen Hart (left) and Nick Cutter (right) are exhausted after their mission.
Nick Cutter, portrayed by Douglas Henshall was one of the only two main characters that knew about the alternate time line from Season 1 (Helen Cutter is the second). He finds the change quite shocking and nerve-racking, mostly because the woman he loved, Claudia Brown, practically vanished from history as if she was never born. At first, everyone thinks Nick has gotten terribly loony. This is clearly evident when Lester sarcastically says, “Don't you think you're a bit old for imaginary friends, Professor?” It seems as if Claudia Brown never existed in the first place . . . that's what Nick believes, at first anyway anyway. At the end of Episode 2.1, James Lester introduces the ARC team to their new Public Relations manager named Jennifer “Jenny” Lewis. When Nick first sets eyes on her, he immediately makes the mistake of calling her Claudia Brown. During the course of Season 2, Nick often accidentally refers to her as “Claudia Brown”, which irritates Jenny greatly. “For the record,” she says, “I really hate that name.” It takes a while, but Nick finally starts to adjust to this change in the time line as he continues to encounter more extinct creatures that come through the anomalies and uncovers the mystery of who on their team is sabotaging their attempts to keep the anomaly situation under control. Nick and Stephen, who before Season 2 had a close relationship, find their friendship strangled. This is partly due to Stephen's new romantic relationship with Nick's ex-wife Helen. It is unknown whether Nick still has feelings for her or not, but Helen seems to suspect that he's jealous. (SPOILER ALERT!!!) But at the end of Episode 2.7, Nick and Stephen finally seem to make up in a bitter-sweet ending in which Stephen risks his life to save the others. Right after Stephen's funeral, Nick gets the photo of Claudia Brown out of his pocket and tears it to shreds and scatters the pieces over Stephen's grave, reluctantly accepting the fact that Claudia Brown is gone forever and that he must continue with his life. (END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!)

Stephen Hart
"How many Valeries' are there gonna be before we start telling people what's going on?"
— Stephen begins to question keeping the anomalies secret
Stephen Hart is often willing to sacrifice his own life for his friends.
Stephen Hart, portrayed by James Murray, was Nick's “right-hand man” from the start of Episode 1.1 up until Episode 1.6, in which Nick learns that Stephen was interested in Helen (who's now open since she's not married to Nick anymore) and this strains their relationship, which leads us to Season 2. He didn't change much from the original time line; he's still the same Stephen who is committed to wildlife conservation and is a rather athletic individual. Stephen is also brave in the face of danger, even managing to take down a ferocious Silurian Scorpion . . . by himself in Episode 2.7. Through Episode 2.1 to 2.5, he and Nick are getting over their relationship-strain until he gets involved with Helen again, who ends up feeding him disinformation about who the traitor on the team is. He has a big brother-like relationship with Connor Temple and it seems that there is no affection felt for Abby Maitland like there was during Season 1 (probably because he know is interested in Helen). Amid Season 2, he begins to question whether the ARC is doing the right thing concerning keeping the anomalies and the creatures secret from the public. During Episode 2.7, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Stephen and Nick semi-makeup when Nick volunteers to be the one to close the door that will prevent the animals from escaping Leek's building, but Stephen refuses to let him do this. Instead, Stephen does it, knowing that he'll be trapped with the ferocious animals and tells Nick before his death to tell Abby and Connor to stay out of trouble. Nick watches as Stephen sacrifices himself to save the lives of possibly countless others and is killed by the creatures who after killing him presumably kill each other, preventing them from escaping into the outside world and threatening civilians. At the end of the episode, Nick and the others attend Stephen's funeral. However, just after Nick and the others leave, Helen places an ammonite shell on Stephen's grave as a calling card and says, “Be patient, Stephen. Things can change faster than you think.” Could Stephen somehow make a comeback in later seasons . . .? (END OF SPOILER ALERT)

Connor Temple 
Nick: "Apparently some people never change." 
Connor: "Is that a bad or a good thing?" 
―No change for Connor in the new timeline. 
Connor (left) is one of the few people who believes that the timeline changed.
 One important lesson if you're considering a job at the ARC – never under any circumstances have Connor Temple, played by Andrew-Lee Potts, use guns! He's notorious for shooting at the wrong things. In Episode 1.1, he accidentally shoots Abby with a tranquilizer dart while trying to shoot a baby raptor and in Episode 1.3, he accidentally shoots a man in a lion costume, thinking it was a saber-toothed cat. Fortunately it was a bad shot and prevented injury (the man inside, anyway . . .)! Later in the latter episode, Connor asks Nick if he can have a gun but Nick responds by saying, “Take a wild guess.” Connor guesses “no” and Nick answers, “Good guess.” In Season 2, Connor is still “temporarily” living with Abby and the two have a close bond. He also ends up getting a girlfriend named Caroline Steel in Episode 2.2 who, unbeknownst to Connor, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) is actually a spy sent by Leek (END OF SPOILER ALERT). Connor's relationship with Caroline strains his relationship with Abby however. Through much of the season, he seems unclear about whether he's more interested in Caroline or Abby (who he had a crush on in Season 1). Even though he denies it later, when Abby was at risk of falling into the hands of the Mer creatures and tells him to let her go, as there's no point in them both dying, he replies, “I can't . . . I love you!” When Abby asks him about this later on, he acts as if he never said it, due to his embarrassment. Also in Season 2, Connor invents a new device that will help the ARC team locate anomalies faster than before: the Anomaly Detection Device. After learning about (SPOILER ALERT!!!) the real reason why Caroline was “interested” in him, he feels betrayed but still cared enough for her to get her out of Leek's creature prison safely. (END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!)

Abby Maitland
Abby: "Just let me go."
Connor: "I can't. I love you."
―Connor tells Abby his feelings for her in the face of death.
In this image, Abby makes friends with a Columbian mammoth.
Hannah Spearritt portrays the reptile-loving Abby Maitland in Primeval. Her apartment is larger and better than the one in Season 1 (another time line change) and Connor is still “temporarily” lodging with her. In Episode 2.2, Abby takes an immediate dislike to Caroline due to her dislike for lizards (Rex in particular) and her relationship with Connor. In an interview with Hannah, she reveals her character dislikes Caroline greatly because she grows rather jealous of Caroline's relationship with Connor, who she seems to be falling in love with by the end of Episode 2.7. One of Abby's hobbies is boxing. In one episode, Caroline shows her a kicking move and Abby later uses it to save herself from an approaching Mer creature. In Episode 1.4, Abby is taken by one of the Mer creatures and the rest of the team worries that she's dead. This really frustrates Connor because ever since Caroline's arrival, he and Abby had been having verbal fights and never got the chance to make up. In Episode 2.7, she finally (SPOILER ALERT!!!) forgives Caroline and saves her and the others from the vicious saber-toothed cat that was locked in with them by Leek. At the end of Episode 2.7, she seem to be close to Connor again. She also is seen after Stephen's funeral trying to hold Connor's hand, but she pulls back at the last minute. (END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!)

Helen Cutter (This whole character bio is a spoiler)
"Be patient, Stephen. Things can change... More than you'll ever know."
—Helen Cutter
Helen Cutter is a rather mysterious person.
The mischievous Helen Cutter, portrayed by Juliet Aubrey, is back in Primeval Season 2 with a new plot. It is revealed over the course of the series that she's working with Oliver Leek to collect animals from the past and future using the anomalies to keep them in Lester's creature prison. But that's where the similarities in their plan disappear. Helen's plot is to use the animals to “play with” the future; she wants to see what would happen in the future if she “alters” the present using the animals they've collected (actually, the Cleaner and Leek's other soldiers are doing the collecting). In Episode 2.2, she appears to Stephen once again and asks him to let her stay overnight because she was supposedly injured by a Cretaceous pterosaur while trying to steal their eggs for breakfast. We learn in Episode 2.4, 2.6 and 2.7 that she's working with Leek, but she misinforms Stephen Hart, her new boyfriend, that Lester might be the traitor on the ARC team that's trying to sabotage their work. By Episode 2.6, Stephen fully believes Helen and isn't seen working with the ARC team much from that point on. In Episode 2.7, Helen eavesdrops on Nick's conversation with Jenny who are trapped in one of Leek's cells and hears Nick say things that suggest he still cares for her. Later in the same episode, Nick reveals he meant to say those things because he thought it was Leek's style to have a way of listening in on what's happening in the cells. However, Helen doesn't believe him. They don't have time to go into the matter more because the animals soon escape their containment and rampage around Leek's creature prison while Nick and the others try to escape. After Stephen's death, Helen is seen once more at Stephen's grave where she tells Stephen to be patient, as the time line can change. At this point, we also see several copies of “the Cleaner” who died in Episode 2.4, and Helen gives a sly grin. Something tells me we'll be seeing more of her in the near future . . .

James Lester
"That's not good news, good news makes people happy."
— Lester on the current creature incursion
James Lester is head of the anomaly operations.

James Lester, played by Ben Miller, is the head of the ARC and a senior UK government official. He appears overall unaltered by the alternate time line and is still his ruthless and sarcastic self, especially toward his “alternate time line assistant” Oliver Leek. It is his job to ensure that mass panic doesn't ensue and that the team discovers more about the anomalies. He may not look it, but Lester's hobby is playing tennis. He can get irritated easily by Nick Cutter, but would prefer him instead of Connor when it comes to leading the ARC team on location. In Episode 2.5 he makes this quite clear. He can also become irritated by Leek's obvious statements or questions. Episode 2.6 is the first episode when Lester is in any real danger in the series when (Spoiler Alert!!!) Leek lets a mind-controlled Future Predator loose in the ARC to take his revenge out on Lester. Lester survives however by letting the ARC's Colombian Mammoth out of its containment and the huge mammal impales the Future Predator with its tusks. (END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!) Later, Lester jokingly states that he could take the mammoth home for his kids as a pet if they can't find a home for him. During Episode 2.7, Lester is shown getting his hands “dirty” in, along with his team, tracking Leek down.

Jennifer Lewis
"Don't call me Claudia! And I'm fine."
— Jenny's first incursion
Jennifer Lewis, Claudia Brown's doppelganger, is the ARC's new PR official.
Claudia Brown vanishes from history as if she was never born and her doppelganger, Jennifer “Jenny” Lewis, played by Lucy Brown, appears. She is hired to be the ARC's public relations official to keep the anomaly-related topics “out of the press”. Jenny is a rather stubborn and bossy individual and at first didn't believe she'd be dealing with extinct creatures during this job. She learned this the hard way in Episode 2.2 when she disobeyed Nick's orders to take the stairs in an office building and instead took the elevator and ran into a deadly carnivorous Fog Worm. Nick later stated, “Next time I say take the stairs, you take the stairs!” After getting over the shock of what she'd be dealing with, she quickly adapted to her new job. She even has the ability to take on the responsibility of leadership and is much better at handling guns than Connor. Her “friends preferred pony riding, I preferred clay pigeon [shooting]” she says. There doesn't seem to be much hope for the same type of relationship Nick had at one time with Claudia to happen between him and Jenny. In Episode 2.2, when Nick visits her house to try and explain the Claudia Brown/alternate time line thing, he is involuntarily interrupted by her fiancee. Even still, Nick accidentally refers to her as Claudia Brown. But in Episode 2.4 when Nick calls her Claudia, she replies, “. . . you saved my life. So just for tonight, you can call me anything you like. For the record, I really hate that name.” (SPOILER ALERT!!!) In the beginning of Episode 2.7 she tells Nick that she's become disengaged with her fiancee however and at the end of the Episode, she hangs around Nick after Stephen's funeral and asks if they can go out for a drink. Could this mean the two of them could develop the type of romantic relationship Nick lost when Claudia disappeared? In Primeval, anything's a possibility . . .

Oliver Leek (this whole bio is a spoiler)
"I think this is something we should consider Sir. It seems to be our first breakthrough to date"
— Leek points the obvious to Lester
There's much more to Oliver Leek than what meets the eye.
 He may not look it, but there's much, much more to Oliver Leek, played by Karl Theobald, than what meets the eye. Leek is Lester's assistant in the alternate time line and is often the focus of his Lester's sarcasms. Nick and the others don't initially believe Leek has the capabilities to pull off anything like he plans to, which is why he isn't immediately expected as the traitor. It is revealed in Episode 2.3 that he hired Caroline Steel to spy on Connor by pretending to be interested in him and in Episode 2.4 we learn he hired the Cleaner to spy on the ARC team and capture animals for his menagerie. Even though he's working with Helen, Leek has a very different agenda – his plan was to use the animals from the past and future to make him a powerful man in the future. He even went as far as to mind-control an army of Future Predator using neural clamps. Nick stated he didn't think before that Leek was capable of this sort of intelligence. He is also surprised to learn of Leek's computer hacking skills. To take revenge on Lester, he lets a Future Predator loose in the ARC and almost succeeds in killing Lester in Episode 2.6. In Episode 2.7 when he informs Connor about how he hired Caroline to pick him up, he also says that they're both “uncool, nerdy and never get the pretty girls.” But Connor disagrees, saying he's “choosy”. When Caroline wants to find out why Leek is interested in the creatures, he not only shows her, but is unmerciful and places her in a cell with Abby, Connor and Jenny and they're almost killed by a saber-toothed cat. Helen orders him to stop at Nick's request and he replies, “You do not give me orders! No one does!” The Jenny, Connor, Abby and Caroline soon escape and Leek prepares to have Nick killed by the Future Predators if Lester and his soldiers continue their search for Leek. But at the last second, Nick destroys a neural clamp of a Future Predator he killed by ripping the clamp off and the other clamps dismantle. Nick escapes while Leek is left in the room with the Future Predators which turn on him soon tear him to bits (all off-screen, thankfully!).

The Cleaner (this whole bio is a spoiler)
"I'm a professional, I never talk."
— The Cleaner.
The Cleaner, played by Tim Faraday, works for Leek and Helen and was originally first seen in Episode 2.1 when he was doing what his name suggests: he was cleaning the mall as an undercover member of Leek's soldiers. Connor and Abby think it strange that he disappeared after being attacked by a baby raptor and that he's soon spotted at the ARC dressed as one of Lester's soldiers in Episode 2.2. Later, he's spotted yet again in Episode 2.4 by Nick and Leek scolds him for being careless. The Cleaner is a rather uncaring and heartless individual, even willing to leave a little girl behind on the “ancient side” of an anomaly in Episode 2.5 when she tried to save them. One of the soldiers tried to protest but the Cleaner answered, “We're not social workers.” Since they didn't listen, most of the men met their demise thanks to Silurian Scorpions when they could have been saved by listening to the girl. Later in the same episode, the Cleaner was killed by a Silurian Scorpion as well. However, dozens of copies of the cleaner were seen in Episode 2.7 near Stephen's grave where Helen was, suggesting they could make an appearance in Season 3.

Caroline Steel
"Abby you look awful, you really must let me talk to you about make-up sometime."
— Caroline wants to share her female wisdom with Abby
Caroline Steel appears to be Connor's new girlfriend.
Connor runs into Caroline Steel, played by Naomi Bentley, while in the video store looking for sci-fi DVD's in Episode 2.2 and he thinks that he's found a new girlfriend. Abby meanwhile begins a rivalry with her from the start, because she senses that (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Caroline's interest in Connor is counterfeit and because she herself has developed an interest in Connor. But what Connor doesn't know is that Caroline was actually paid to pick up Connor to spy on them. Caroline and Connor start dating up until Episode 2.5 when Connor feels that their relationship isn't working out and dumps her – by text, I might add – with two simple words: “It's Over!”. (END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!) Caroline's hobbies include dancing, fencing, kickboxing and paintballing. She also has a great dislike of reptiles, including Abby's pet Rex. In fact, she hates them so much that in Episode 2.4, she placed Rex in Abby's freezer when Abby and Connor were on an anomaly mission, much to Abby's horror. Abby even referred to her as “Cruella De Vil”. Even though Caroline was working for Leek, she had no idea what he was really up to until (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Episode 2.7 when she was taken hostage with Jenny, Abby, Connor and Nick. Before taken hostage, when Connor dumped her (remember, by text), she attacked and stole Rex to revenge Abby as well and gave the lizard to Leek. Leek's uncaring side is shown in Episode 2.7 when Abby and Caroline begin fighting and Connor tells Leek to stop them, but he doesn't. On the contrary, he finds it amusing! Connor eventually gets them to stop fighting, but when Caroline thanks him, Connor tells her, “I didn't do it for you.” Eventually, Caroline asks and receives forgiveness from both Abby and Connor for her money-driven deeds and even is sympathetic towards Rex – she rescues the lizard after he is injured. Caroline's last appearance is made at Stephen's funeral, where she reminds Connor that he has her number.

I hope you found the biographies of the characters of Primeval a good read. Next week will be Joy's article, and the week after that, you will have the opportunity to read the third part of my review of Primeval Season 2, when we'll look at each of the creatures that make up the series. Catch you later!

PS 1: Have a puzzling question about animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, my stop-motion movies, Creation or etc? Please post your question as a comment or send me an email at

PS 2: What’s the latest scoop? Check it out at SMILEY’S NEWS.