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NOVA: Australia's First 4 Billion Years

Of all the continents on Earth, none preserves a more spectacular story of its origins than Australia. NOVA’s four-part miniseries takes viewers on a rollicking adventure from the birth of the Earth to the emergence of the world we know today. With high-energy host and geologist Richard Smith, meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and deadly asteroids. Epic in scope, intimate in nature, this is the untold story of the Land Down Under, the island continent that has it all.

Drive with dinosaurs graphic for NOVA's "Australia's First 4 Billion Years." Explore how one of the strangest landscapes on Earth reveals our planet’s complex history.

Drive with dinosaurs graphic for NOVA's "Australia's First 4 Billion Years." Explore how one of the strangest landscapes on Earth reveals our planet’s complex history.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

This old block of rock in the boondocks of Western Australia is older than the hills around it. Hidden inside are the oldest bits of the planet ever found: tiny zircon crystals that celebrated their first birthday 4,400,000,000 (4.4 billion) years ago.

This old block of rock in the boondocks of Western Australia is older than the hills around it. Hidden inside are the oldest bits of the planet ever found: tiny zircon crystals that celebrated their first birthday 4,400,000,000 (4.4 billion) years ago.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Pyramid in the Pilbara, Australia.

Pyramid in the Pilbara, Australia.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Host and geologist, Dr. Richard Smith at Uluru.

Host and geologist, Dr. Richard Smith at Uluru.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Uluru, the glowing heart in Australia’s Red Centre isn’t all it appears. It’s really quite grey on the inside and only rusty red on the outside. In fact, most of the great redness that defines the Australian Outback comes from the iron minerals that started rusting way back when the Earth’s first forests pumped up the planet’s oxygen level.

Uluru, the glowing heart in Australia’s Red Centre isn’t all it appears. It’s really quite grey on the inside and only rusty red on the outside. In fact, most of the great redness that defines the Australian Outback comes from the iron minerals that started rusting way back when the Earth’s first forests pumped up the planet’s oxygen level.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Stromatolites - You might not see the resemblance, but these muddy mounds are your oldest living relatives. Sure, they are positively petrified, but bacterial stromatolites like these were some of the first beachgoers you would have encountered on a seaside holiday in the prehistoric past.

Stromatolites - You might not see the resemblance, but these muddy mounds are your oldest living relatives. Sure, they are positively petrified, but bacterial stromatolites like these were some of the first beachgoers you would have encountered on a seaside holiday in the prehistoric past.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Stromatolites at Shark Bay.

Stromatolites at Shark Bay.

Credit: Courtesy of Richard Smith/Blue Planet

Dr. Richard Smith and Stomatolites at Shark Bay.

Dr. Richard Smith and Stomatolites at Shark Bay.

Credit: Courtesy of Chris Taylor

Emu Bay, Trilobite Fossils (Redlichia takooensis).

Emu Bay, Trilobite Fossils (Redlichia takooensis).

Credit: Courtesy of Naomi Mitchell

Emu Bay, Trilobite Fossils (Redlichia takooensis).

Emu Bay, Trilobite Fossils (Redlichia takooensis).

Credit: Courtesy of Naomi Mitchell

Edicaran Community

Edicaran Community

Credit: Courtesy of Mirage VFX

Modern Man meets Ancient Mollusc: Presenter Richard Smith and the Nautilus.

Modern Man meets Ancient Mollusc: Presenter Richard Smith and the Nautilus.

Credit: Courtesy of Eye Candy Animation

Anomolocaris on the hunt (Anomolocaris Briggsi).

Anomolocaris on the hunt (Anomolocaris Briggsi).

Credit: Courtesy of Eye Candy Animation

Australia's fierce southern hunter on the prowl in Banjo Forest.

Australia's fierce southern hunter on the prowl in Banjo Forest.

Credit: Courtesy of Eye Candy Animation

Small dinosaurs at waterhole.

Small dinosaurs at waterhole.

Credit: Courtesy of Eye Candy Animation

Boyds Forest Dragon in Daintree.

Boyds Forest Dragon in Daintree.

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Musky Rat Kangaroo

Musky Rat Kangaroo

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith

Australian Pademelon

Australian Pademelon

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Smith