Great Galloping Mammoths!

Against my better judgment, I went out to catch a matinée showing of 10,000 BC yesterday, and the only good thing that came of the outing was that I found a $20 bill in the parking lot. The movie is one of the stinkiest pieces of movie cheese I’ve encountered. At least Dragon Wars was so bad it was funny; 10,000 BC was trite and boring.

There was one mistake present throughout much of the film that continually made me chuckle though. The super-sized mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) in the film were twice incited to charge, and rather than run like modern elephants do, they galloped like horses. Clips of the film haven’t surfaced yet, but if you look closely at the shots of the mammoths in the latter part of the official trailer you can see what I mean;

Both modern African and Indian elephants (Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus, respectively) cannot gallop in such a fashion as they are far too-large to do see. They can move very quickly (as anyone unfortunate enough to be chased by an angry elephant knows), but when they run it is much more like a shuffle than the stotting of a gazelle. Here’s a video an an African elephant running;

Indian elephants run in the same fashion;

The mammoths in the film were beautifully rendered (much more so than the terror birds and sabercat, which seemed fuzzy and out of focus), but I still couldn’t help but think that they were imbued with magic powers that helped them escape the constraints of scaling. My advice to you, if you really must see a film in which ancient humans and prehistoric creatures co-exist, is to go rent One Million Years B.C. Sure, it’s more inaccurate, but at least it’s a fun movie!


  1. #1 brtkrbzhnv
    March 9, 2008

    Well, if you couldn’t tell from the trailer that that film would be horrible, I will have to seriously question your judgment.

  2. #2 Laelaps
    March 9, 2008

    Of course I knew it was going to be horrible; I actually enjoy watching cheesy movies and riffing on them (MST3K was one of my favorite shows during the 1990’s). Movies can go bad in a number of ways, though, and this film was bad in the sense that it made no sense, was utterly boring, and the acting was terrible (whereas movies like D-War are so stinky that it’s easy to laugh at it).

    I wasn’t expecting 10,000 BC to be good, but I was at least hoping that they’d provide a little more eye candy in terms of prehistoric critters.

  3. #3 Hai~Ren
    March 9, 2008

    When Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong came out, many of the folks on the Dinosaur Mailing List were complaining about the stampeding herd of galloping sauropods. =)

    Even though I do admit that the woolly mammoths in 10,000 BC are quite nicely rendered, I’d think that other films like Ice Age, 300, and Lord of the Rings show a far more accurate depiction of proboscidean locomotion (Yes, even though mumakil are completely fictitious creatures).

  4. #4 Jerry D. Harris
    March 9, 2008

    The super-sized mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) in the film

    Those weren’t mammoths — they were HEDPOUSes (Hairy Ecologically Displaced Proboscideans of Unusual Size).

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 9, 2008

    What irritated me?

    1. Narration. Don’t tell me the story, let me watch it.
    2. Narration. If you have to use English, don’t use English with a weird accent. There was no English back then, Dudes! Don’t fake it so poorly.

    And,yeah, the whole story line and mammoth thing.

  6. #6 Tom DiVito
    March 9, 2008

    I can’t resist commenting because I IMMEDIATELY noticed this! It’s very noticeable because it contrasts with the funny movement of fast moving modern elephants. What caused me to laugh again were the couple references to the “lead bull” elephant by the characters. Modern elephant herds are matriarchal, and it seems logical to assume that other elephantids would live in matriarchal herds as well.

    And I agree with Hai~Ren above, that those other movies do a pretty good job of representing elephant locomotion. The giant oliphants of Return of the King came to mind shortly after I saw the galloping mammoths in 10,000 BC because I had to search my memory to see if this is a common mistake in films.

  7. #7 Colin Bartlett
    March 10, 2008

    I, for one, am shocked to see scientific innaccuracy creep into the work of the director of The Day After Tomorrow! Surely if people can flee in terror from really cold air, dodging Giant Racing Mammoths is not outside the realm of possibility.

  8. #8 Greg Peterson
    March 10, 2008

    The MOST painful thing about the movie was the spiritual journey crap, especially since a well-rendered reality would have been so much more compelling than any sort of mythology could be. Terror birds, for example, could have been far scarier than the ones in the movie, if they would have gotten the look right. And a saber-toothed cat (with a short tail, please) that was not just a CGI excuse for the Androcles riff could have been truly compelling. National Geographic still makes the most entertaining ancient critter movies. I thought the recent “Sea Monsters 3D” was better than Jurassic Park and sequels.

  9. #9 DDeden
    March 10, 2008


    dude, that’s popcorn and coke MAMMOTH SIZED!

    you scored! Chompchompchugalugachoochoo!

    and you got to watch a flick (with a chick?).

    some guys have all the luck!

  10. #10 Sman
    March 11, 2008

    While I haven’t seen the movie, the head on the saber toothed cat looked unusually large in proportion to the body. Perhaps, a sabercat and a cave lion mated. 😉

  11. #11 Chinchillazilla
    March 11, 2008

    D-war was, quite possibly, the most hilarious movie ever made. Spelling errors in the subtitles! It was amazing!

    10,000 B.C. was just dumb. They started out in, what, Canada, walked for like a week, and were magically in what was apparently Australia.

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