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Making North America

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Making North America
DVD cover
GenreDocumentary film
Directed byPeter Oxley and Gwyn Williams[1]
Narrated byKirk Johnson (Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)[1]
Theme music composerTy Unwin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodesThree one-hour episodes
ProducerPeter Oxleyl
CinematographyPiers Leigh
EditorPaul Shepard and Dan McCabe
Running time3 h (180 min)
Production companyWindfall Films
DistributorPublic Broadcasting Service
Original networkPBS Nova series
Original releasePremiered nationwide on November 4, 2015[1]
External links

Making North America is a 2015 American documentary film which premiered nationwide on November 4, 2015.[1] The PBS Nova film, comprising three episodes of one hour each, was hosted by Kirk Johnson (Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History); Peter Oxley directed the first episode while Gwyn Williams directed the second and third. The series describes the very beginnings and later developments of the North American continent: from the origin of planet Earth 4.54 billion years ago; to the various movements of tectonic plates and their effect on the sculpturing of the continent's land and mountains, including the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon; to the emergence of life on the continent and its later evolution; and, finally, to the more recent settlement of the land by humans.[1][2] According to Johnson, "Most people will not have considered a time when there was no North America ... What was there before North America? How did it form? When did it start? How did it come together?"[3]


No. Episode[1] Original air date (nationwide)
1"Origins"[7]November 4, 2015 (2015-11-04)
The very early formation of the North American continent over the first 3 billion years of the existence of Earth, after the origin of the planet 4.54 billion years ago, is presented. The appearance of the earliest life, possibly as early as 4.28 billion years ago,[4] and later evolution, about 800 million years ago,[5] from unicellular organisms to multicellular organisms,[6] within the planet's ancient oceans, are described.
2"Life"[8]November 11, 2015 (2015-11-11)
The emergence of early life from ancient oceans onto the early North American continent, about 550 million years ago, and life's later evolution on land, are presented. Dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex), as well as giant marine reptiles that lived in a huge ancient inland sea which covered the state of Kansas (and much more) about 100 million years ago, are described.
3"Human"[9]November 18, 2015 (2015-11-18)
The human settlement of the North American continent, as early as 40,000 years ago by Native American ancestors, and later, about 500 years ago, by European settlers, are presented. Modern-day geological processes and the possible consequences of human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, that pose potential risks to our human civilization, are described.


The documentary film is narrated by Kirk Johnson and includes the following participants (alphabetized by last name):[1]


According to James Gaines, film reviewer for LiveScience, "North America rocks. That’s what a new three-part series from NOVA shows as it explores the rich history of the continent — from glaciers in Alaska to volcanoes in Hawaii to the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas."[3] Joanne Ostrow, television critic for the Denver Post, writes, "Thanks to innovative special effects and graphics, this dose of earth science is visually engaging ... The graphics let us see how a slab of ocean floor diving under the earth forced the land up ... Johnson [the narrator] is enthusiastic good company, a regular guy whether rappelling into the Grand Canyon, flying over an active volcano in Hawaii, hunting for fossils in Alaska where palm trees once flourished, or descending into the palladium mines of Ontario, where geologists have dated some of the oldest rock ever found in North America ... there's much to learn from this series and, thanks to rock-solid storytelling, it's mind-blowing but easy to grasp."[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Staff (November 2015). "PBS - Nova - Making North America". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Staff (September 21, 2015). "PBS to Present 3-Part Series NOVA: MAKING NORTH AMERICA This November". Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b Gaines, James (November 11, 2015). "New 'Making North America' Series Explores Continent's Rich History". LiveScience. Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Dodd, Matthew S.; Papineau, Dominic; Grenne, Tor; slack, John F.; Rittner, Martin; Pirajno, Franco; O'Neil, Jonathan; Little, Crispin T. S. (March 2, 2017). "Evidence for early life in Earth's oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates" (PDF). Nature. 543 (7643): 60–64. doi:10.1038/nature21377. PMID 28252057.
  5. ^ Erwin, Douglas H. (November 9, 2015). "Early metazoan life: divergence, environment and ecology". Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 370 (20150036): 20150036. doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0036. PMC 4650120. PMID 26554036.
  6. ^ Zimmer, Carl (January 7, 2016). "Genetic Flip Helped Organisms Go From One Cell to Many". New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Staff (November 2015). "PBS - Nova - Making North America - Origins". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Staff (November 2015). "PBS - Nova - Making North America - Life". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Staff (November 2015). "PBS - Nova - Making North America - Human". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Ostrow, Joanne (November 4, 2015). "Colorado's Rockies explained in NOVA's "Making North America" on PBS". Denver Post. Retrieved November 19, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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Making North America
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