Film details new research on evolution of whales, elephants

PASADENA, Calif. — Origin stories aren't just for comic-book superheroes, as a documentary about the evolution of animals including elephants and whales intends to show.

The two-hour film will highlight the work of leading scientists worldwide and showcase "spectacular new breakthroughs in evolutionary history," PBS programming executive Bill Gardner said in a statement.

Crocodiles and birds also are a focus of the special with the working title "When Whales Walked: A Deep Time Journey," which will include 3D graphics and special effects to recreate vanished creatures and environments.

PBS, which initiated the project, is working in partnership with the Smithsonian Channel and Smithsonian Institution. The latter will open a new fossil hall June 8, with an educational outreach program produced by the National Museum of Natural History.

"When we marvel at the wonders of the natural world, like an elephant's trunk or the size of a blue whale, we rarely ask, 'Where did that come from?' It turns out, scientists are finding some truly extraordinary answers," said Charles Poe, a production executive with the Smithsonian Channel.

An air date for the documentary has yet to be announced.

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