Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History (2022) Movie Script

[instrumental music
Magical creatures
have fascinated us,
ever since
we first walked the Earth.
Whether created entirely
from the imagination
or inspired
by the animals around us,
mythical beasts have captured
our attention
for thousands of years.
But why in this modern age
of science and technology,
are we still so captivated
by these fantastic beasts?
And what are the truths
that lie behind
the myths, the magic,
and the legends?
Join me on a journey
of exhilarating exploration
and daring discovery,
as we uncover the secrets
behind some of our best-loved
mythical creatures...
Oh, my heavens.
the real-life beasts
behind some of the greatest
legends in history.
You look at some of nature's
extraordinary creations
and you think, "Well, CGI
will never match this."
[Fry] And finding out why
the world of magical animals
is more popular today
than ever before.
These are
the extraordinary stories
of the world's most
fantastic beasts.
This is one of the greatest
treasure troves
of the natural world.
London's Natural History Museum
is a cornucopia
of unique and fascinating
from across the globe.
It's also a place where the
worlds of science and fiction
have been known to overlap.
I'll be exploring the museum's
labyrinth of corridors
and cabinets,
and uncovering the stories
that continue to fascinate
millions of people today.
From the legendary creatures
of ancient mythology,
to the magical animals
of Harry Potter
and the Wizarding World.
Stories like these.
The fantastic beasts
and mythological creatures
within these pages,
appear to be pure fantasy,
but things aren't always
quite that simple.
We begin our story
with arguably the best-known
mythological animal
on the planet...
the dragon.
One of the most ancient
and universal
of our mythological creatures,
the dragon has enthralled
the human race
for thousands of years.
But where did the idea
for this creature
first take flight?
Was there a spark of truth
behind the dragon myth?
[Chinese traditional music
Chinese New Year
is often celebrated
around the world
with a traditional
dragon dance.
[music continues]
In the dance,
the dragon represents
wisdom, power, and wealth.
And it's believed
that performing the dance
scares off evil spirits
and brings good luck.
But why the dragon?
What is it about this creature
that so excites
and mesmerizes us?
Many cultures around the world
have a dragon myth,
although they often
vary in appearance.
European dragons
are usually seen as terrifying,
fire-breathing beasts
with wings and horns.
Whereas Asian dragons
are depicted as
wise, benevolent creatures,
with a more
serpent-like appearance.
But if you take a closer
look at the dragon,
you can see that many
of its features
are borrowed from real animals,
animals that have
a fearsome reputation.
A dragon's large,
powerful talons
are like those of an eagle.
[eagles screeching]
Its sharp teeth
and strong limbs
are like a lion's.
And its scales
and hissing tongue
are similar to a snake's.
One recent scientific theory
suggests that the dragon is,
is simply a combination
of those three animals.
The animals that our early
ancestors were most afraid of.
An interesting idea indeed,
but what lies
behind this theory?
[dragon roars]
I visited San Diego Zoo
in California,
to meet a little creature
that could help to explain.
[Fry] Oh, now.
Who have we here?
So this is our vervet family.
This chap here
with the blue bottom,
he's looking rather alarmed.
[Peterson] So that is our
dominant male in the family.
There's some new enrichment
in their enclosure
that they haven't seen before,
so he's letting everyone know
there's something new.
[Fry] When you say enrichment,
do you mean that earthen pot?
[Peterson] Correct.
- They've never seen it before?
- Never seen it before.
It has mealworms in there,
- it has peanuts, so they have to reach their hand in.
- Right.
But because it's something
new in their environment,
he's started making
that alert call
and I don't know
if you noticed,
they all started
to jump into the trees.
[Fry] They did, didn't they?
And they were all
responding to his,
"Hey there's something
new here".
There is something new,
we don't know what it is,
everyone go to your post.
[Fry] Vervet monkeys
can be found across
most of Africa,
and usually live
in large groups,
known as troops.
Studies have revealed
that they communicate
in a highly sophisticated way,
using different alarm calls
for specific predators,
to warn their troop
of approaching danger.
[Fry] Is it a very particular
kind of warning
that they know
means something on the ground
rather than something
on a tree?
They do. They have
three different calls.
So they have one for something
that's on the ground, like a snake.
Oh, right.
They have a different call
for something's in the air,
- like a bird of prey.
- Yeah.
And then they have another call
for big cats.
[Fry] Those are the three things that
are most likely to threaten them?
[Peterson] Correct.
[Fry] So that was
a snake call, was it?
'Cause they
were all looking down.
[Peterson] It was. They were
all up on their tiptoes,
they were all
looking down at it.
- Of course.
- It's exactly what they do for a snake
and, you know,
I was cleaning, um,
their bedrooms one time,
and they started to do
the same call
for the water hose.
- [Fry] Really?
- [Peterson] Yeah.
Of course, a hose
is a green snake.
They're, like, what is that?
[Fry] So what does
this all mean?
Well, it's thought
that vervet alarm calls
indicate a very deep-rooted
fear of these three predators.
And we humans,
as the primate cousins
of the vervet monkey,
share the same instinctive
fears of big cats,
birds of prey, and snakes.
And perhaps that primal fear
is what led people
around the world,
to combine these
three deadly animals
into their own unique version
of the almighty dragon.
But there is another theory
behind the legend of the dragon
and it's based on a group
of formidable reptiles
that walked the Earth millions
of years ago.
[dramatic music playing]
If you've ever wanted
to dig up a dinosaur,
then this is the place to come.
I am surrounded by thousands
of dinosaur fossils here.
I'm in the Valley Of Bones.
Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry
in Utah, America,
has the densest concentration
of Jurassic dinosaur fossils
ever found on the planet.
So, have they dug up
anything here that can help us
decipher the dragon myth?
I'm meeting with two
of the quarry's top experts,
Mike Leschin
and Casey Dooms, to find out.
So in terms
of recent human history,
when was this place discovered?
[Dooms] We know that people
knew about the area since,
probably at least late 1800s.
First Europeans
undoubtedly stumbled across
a lot of different
finds of dinosaur fossils
and all kinds of things.
[Fry] Because
they were visible?
[Dooms] Eroding out of the hills,
eroding out of these formations...
- [Fry] So, sort of, bones poking up through the soil.
- [Dooms] Mm-hmm.
[Fry] And, Mike, the Europeans,
the ranchers in the 18th century,
they had no reason to suppose
that the creatures
that were exhibited there
were extinct.
And some people
still kind of get
confused in their head,
don't they,
about the fact that obviously
we never co-existed
with these creatures.
Oh, yeah, I've had people
come out here and say,
"I'm here 'cause
I don't believe in dinosaurs."
- Really?
- And, yeah,
so I was like, well,
go look down there
and then we'll talk.
[Fry laughs]
What about the non-Europeans,
the native Americans, the Ute?
The Ute tribe
was the local tribe.
- They knew they were the remains of a living creature.
- [Fry] Yeah.
And their attitude
was to respect that
- and leave it alone.
- Yeah.
[Fry] Dinosaur fossils
have been found
on every continent on Earth.
Could they be behind
the dragon story?
If you take
a look at the T-Rex,
with its terrifying teeth,
sharp claws,
and enormous size,
you can see
how the idea could arise.
Goodness me,
what is this place?
So this is the actual
Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry.
Ah. And you've enclosed it
to show off these amazing...
- Yes.
- ...specimens.
So over here, we have some back
vertebrae from a camarasaurus.
[Fry] From what animal?
[Dooms] Camarasaurus,
so it's a herbivorous dinosaur.
One of the big long-necks.
Right next to it,
we have a tail vertebrae
of an Allosaurus.
- Oh, yeah.
- The big predator,
the major predator of the day.
[Fry] You can really
see here, Casey, can't you,
how the dragon myth can arise.
[Dooms] Yeah, absolutely.
Especially if you're
finding stuff like this.
- [Fry gasps]
- That is a single tooth of an Allosaurus.
Oh, my goodness.
I can feel its serrations...
- Serrations, yeah.
- ...saw like, um...
- like a steak knife for cutting through flesh.
- Yeah.
It's still,
after 147 million years,
you can still see them
and you can still feel them.
I mean,
that's a dragon's tooth,
- there's no question about it, it's just...
- Yes.
Wow. I'll give it back to you,
it's very valuable.
Look at that.
Indigenous American
mythology features
dragon-like creatures
such as the Piasa Bird,
with feathery wings,
elk's horns,
and a long spiked tail.
And the Gaasyendietha dragon,
a lake-dwelling,
fire-breathing beast.
Perhaps these creations
were inspired by fossils
like those discovered here
in Utah.
If I was here some thousand
years ago or so,
it's easy to see how,
if someone dug up
something like this,
it could conjure up
the image of a dragon,
and terrifying it would be,
because how could I know that
this was from a species
that had gone extinct
millions of years ago.
As far as I was concerned,
this was one of the species
that was still very much alive
and might swoop down
on me at any moment.
In the world
of fantastic beasts,
there is another creature
that's as universally
recognized as the dragon.
You know, there's
one mythical creature
whose popularity seems
to be even greater today
than it's ever been.
And it's one
of the few magical animals
that isn't
a terrifying monster.
Indeed it's famous
for its peaceful,
benevolent nature.
I'm talking, of course,
about the unicorn.
One more!
I'm on my way to a country
which was once so convinced
that this mystical creature
was real,
that they named it
their national animal.
[horn tooting]
Often depicted as a beautiful,
horse-like creature
with flowing mane,
and long, spiraled horn,
the unicorn is a symbol
of purity and innocence.
Believed to have
magical powers,
the unicorn's horn was said
to heal sickness
and protect against poison.
In recent years,
unicorns have seen
a huge surge in popularity.
But this adoration
is nothing new in Scotland,
where the unicorn
has been revered for centuries.
So what is this obsession
all about?
I've come to Stirling Castle,
to meet historian Professor Donna
Heddle, to find out.
- Professor Heddle.
- [Heddle] Oh, call me Donna.
What a place.
Oh, my goodness.
Unicorns absolutely everywhere.
[Heddle] I know.
It's splendid, isn't it?
And there are more
all round the room.
This tells us the story
of the hunt of the unicorn.
It's an allegorical piece.
Based on tapestries,
we know that we're
in the collection of James V.
I think they're called
"The History of the Unicorn."
America has a Bald Eagle,
and France has a Cockrel,
and we have
a Lion in England...
you, in Scotland,
don't have a real animal,
you have a mythical animal.
Why is that, do you think?
Well, I think at the time
when it was chosen,
people did think it was real,
they did believe in it,
but it's a kind of a thing
in the 15th century,
lots of kings
were adopting animals
as their personal symbols
and the unicorn
became the symbol of Scotland
because it is untamable,
it is undefeatable.
Oh, so that's a symbol
of Scotland's sense of itself.
It's brave, it's courageous,
what's not to like?
- How cool is that for a national symbol?
- Yes.
[Fry] In the Middle Ages,
the evidence used to prove
that unicorns existed,
came from another
mysterious creature entirely.
A genuine unicorn horn.
Or is it in fact
a narwhal tusk?
I think it's a narwhal tusk.
In fact, it's a replica
of a narwhal tusk,
'cause we wouldn't
have such a thing...
obviously, they belong
on the narwhal's head.
Um, they, sort of,
grow up like that.
I mean, extraordinary things
on the narwhal.
And you can see why
somebody enterprising,
who unfortunately caught one
of those whales
and sawed off his tusk
would have thought,
"I can sell this
as a unicorn horn."
Because that's just
what it looks like.
[Heddle] And it's
quite beautiful.
[Fry] The narwhal
is an elusive toothed whale
found in Arctic waters.
The spectacular tusk,
usually only found
on male narwhals,
is actually an overgrown
spiralized tooth.
Scientists are still unsure
as to what exactly
the tusk is for,
but it's thought that it may be
used to break through ice,
help catch fish,
or possibly
to impress female narwhals.
I believe I'm right in saying
that these did change hands
for quite astonishing
sums of money.
Vast sums of money.
We know that Queen Elizabeth I,
paid 10 thousand pounds
and that, that's kept in the
Tower of London, for example,
so it's a very high status
[Fry] Who created this market?
[Heddle] Well, they were
mainly people
who were fishing
in the North of Norway
or Greenland in the Arctic,
They would come across the
narwhals, and it was a huge trade.
And the idea was that
it obviously was a symbol
of your own power and wealth,
but also that it would
protect you in some way?
That's right, the purity
of the unicorn.
This was believed to be
able to purify water,
and to guard against poisons.
Also, in a rather more
mundane fashion
to cure boils and plague.
And it was used
by apothecaries
up until the 18th century.
It was called alicorn powder.
A mere pinch of this
would have been beyond
the dreams of ordinary men.
[Fry] Right.
It's thought the first written
reference to unicorns
dates back
to over 2,000 years ago.
Over that time,
many real animals
have been linked
with this mythical creature.
The Arabian oryx,
also known
as the Arabian unicorn,
has two long slender horns,
and when viewed in profile,
their horns can appear as one,
making them closely
resemble a unicorn.
But there's another,
rather different animal
that is part
of the unicorn story,
one that may have
the strongest connection
of all.
There they are,
the little armored tanks.
The rhinoceros, the rhino,
surely one of nature's
most iconic creatures,
with its unmistakable
thick, gray hide
and its signature horn.
I call it one of nature's
An extraordinary,
unique beauty, aren't you?
- [rhino breathes heavily]
- Yes.
These magnificent creatures
are Indian rhinoceros,
and their scientific species
name is,
"Rhinoceros Unicornis."
And they are, in fact,
distantly related
to a real unicorn.
Oh, come now, Stephen.
Well, millions of years ago,
a creature called
Elasmotherium Sibiricum,
the Siberian Unicorn,
roamed between Asia
and Europe and around
for many, many
millions of years.
These prehistoric rhinos
wouldn't have looked
terribly different
to the ones we know today.
But they were enormous.
Twice the size
of modern rhinos,
at around three meters tall,
covered in thick, shaggy hair,
and thought to have
a single, large horn.
The Siberian Unicorn
is believed to have grazed
almost entirely on grass,
and despite its large size,
was built to run at speed
across the plains.
They survived all the way
up to about 39,000 years ago,
when they became extinct.
But at that time,
we were there,
we, homo-sapiens.
We'd developed language,
and so, we were able
to tell each other
about meeting
these incredible creatures,
what would
we have thought of them?
Perhaps that's another reason
why the idea of the unicorn
entered the human imagination.
[eerie music playing]
Of all the eerie legends
of the ocean depths,
there is one that has
enthralled us
more than any other...
The Kraken.
- [growling]
- [people screaming]
Over 500 years ago,
sailors first told
of an enormous sea monster,
said to live in the waters
off Norway and Iceland,
which had long, snake-like arms
covered in suckers
for grabbing prey.
Some stories reported
the monster
as being
two kilometers in length,
with tentacles as thick
and long as ship's masts.
By the 18th century,
scientists truly believed
that the Kraken was
a living, breathing animal,
and so it was included
in all the highly-respected
scientific journals
of the time, including
the Systema Naturae,
developed by the famous
Swedish naturalist,
Carl Linnaeus.
Was there really a huge monster
living in the ocean depths,
that overturned ships
and devoured sailors?
This is the Natural History
Museum's Tank Room,
home to thousands of the most
incredible scientific specimens.
And there's one in particular
that may explain
our Kraken myth,
along with a little help
from museum curator,
Jon Ablett.
- [Fry] Hello there. Jon.
- [Ablett] Hello.
Good to meet you,
thanks for showing me around
your incredible...
What the heck is that?
Well, this is Archie,
our beautiful giant squid specimen.
[Fry] This is a giant squid.
I mean, one hears
about giant squids
and one imagines that they are,
maybe, what people mean
by sea monsters.
Is this what they are?
Are these the monsters?
Well, I mean, we don't really
know what people were seeing,
when we think of these kind
of old-fashioned sea monsters,
but these are definitely
a great candidate.
I mean, they get
up to about 13 meters.
So Archie here, is about
8.6 meters, so not fully grown.
- Is this a junior?
- This is a junior.
So the females,
we think, get to about 13,
the males about 10, 11.
Oh, I can't imagine what
it must be like,
seeing one of those
actually in the water.
One of the most elusive
creatures on the planet,
giant squid are believed
to weigh up to 500 kilos
and inhabit the deepest oceans
around the world.
This incredibly rare footage
was captured by scientists
in the deep waters
of the Gulf of Mexico in 2019.
Thought to be a juvenile,
and measuring over
three and a half meters,
the squid is attempting to feed
on a decoy
bioluminescent jellyfish.
This is only
the second time in history
that a giant squid has been
filmed in the wild.
So that, sort of, um,
child's adventure book
with a huge tentacle
coming in to the deck,
and wrapping itself around
an unfortunate sailor
- is not very likely?
- Pretty unlikely.
I mean, these live
at really great depths,
we're thinking,
possibly down to 2,000 meters,
and it's actually very likely they
can't actually breathe at the surface.
Oh, look, there's more,
you've got suckers and...
There's a wonderful...
Well, this isn't actually
part of a giant squid,
there is something
that possibly gets even bigger.
This is actually
from a colossal squid.
We think they get bigger
than the giant squid,
possibly up to 18 meters.
Eighteen meters!
So if you have a look inside,
a closer look.
[Fry gasps]
Wow. I can see
the suckers so clearly.
[Ablett] So here you can see
just the very tip
of a tentacle
of a colossal squid.
And you can see,
they have these
traditional circular suckers
with the saw-toothed edge,
- just like you see in lots of squid.
- Yeah. Yeah.
But also these
very sharp talon like...
Oh, yes, I can see that.
Goodness they are, aren't they?
Two or three in each sucker,
that are these claws,
these thorns.
Even the ones that don't have
thorns have a certain
sort of raspy burr to them,
don't they?
Yeah, they, sort of, have a serrated
saw-tooth edge as well, so, yeah.
I mean, absolutely terrifying, you
don't want to be caught by one of these.
[Fry] Even bigger
than its giant cousin,
the colossal squid is the
largest invertebrate on Earth.
Potentially almost as long
as an early sailing ship.
These mysterious creatures
live in the icy depths
of Antarctic waters,
and most of what we know
is based on a small number
of carcasses
found by deep-sea
fishing vessels.
Images like these
are almost the only evidence
we have of their existence.
Did these enormous squid,
found washed ashore
or caught in nets long ago,
launch the legend
of the Kraken?
[Ablett] I mean, they really are
so other-worldly, aren't they?
Yeah. And it's hard
not to be scared
at the thought of one
of those tendrils
coming out and grabbing you.
It is a pretty
primal nightmare.
It certainly is.
[Fry] Sailors could spin
wonderful yarns
about the strange sights
they saw at sea.
But not all the tales they told
were of the terrifying type,
some took
a more appealing form.
Mermaids have featured
in legends
from around the world
for thousands of years.
In 1493, the explorer
Christopher Columbus,
sailing to the Americas,
saw what he believed
to be three mermaids,
describing them as
"not so beautiful
as they are said to be,
for their faces
had some masculine traits."
But some scientists now think
that what he actually saw
was a creature
that is still found
along the coasts
of North America today.
[birds chirping]
Crystal River in Florida,
is home
to these enigmatic animals.
There's one. Its little nose
popped up to say hello.
These incredible creatures
are manatees, or sea cows,
and they're the ocean's
largest herbivore
or grazer, in their case
on sea grass.
And despite their massive bulk,
unlike me, they are incredibly
graceful swimmers.
Local manatee expert
Monica Scroggin
has studied the population
on this river
for a number of years.
What brings the manatees
to this place?
Do they find it as beautiful
as everyone else does?
So actually,
it's the water temperature,
but that's because they have
a very small metabolism,
so they have to eat about
ten percent of their body fat
every single day.
So for a thousand
pound manatee,
that's about a hundred
pounds of food.
- My goodness.
- Yes.
It is a lot
of green vegetables.
[Fry] Manatees can be found
along the coasts
and rivers of North America,
the Amazon in South America,
and Western Africa.
Though populations
are on the rise in Florida,
manatee numbers
are declining worldwide,
and they are considered
vulnerable to extinction.
Measuring over
three meters in length,
these gentle giants often
travel long distances
in search of seagrass.
Manatee tails certainly
look very mermaid-like.
Perhaps it's the graceful way
they move in the water
that has inspired
these legends.
Or had the sailors
who glimpsed them
simply been at sea
for too long?
And when you look at manatees,
do you see merpeople,
mermen and mermaids?
I do. I think they
have the similar shape.
They have the similar tail,
their flippers.
Yeah. Do they use them
almost like hands?
I mean, obviously,
they're not opposable thumbs or anything.
Right, but they almost are.
You could think of their
flipper, like our hands,
but only with skin covering it.
Their bones
look just like ours.
[Fry] The manatee skeleton
could also hold a clue
to the mermaid myth.
Take a look at their arms
and hands,
and you can see
they are similar to ours.
Yet their tail bones
are unmistakably fish-like.
It's easy to see
how these skeletons
washing up on shores long ago,
could have inspired the idea
of a mysterious half-human,
half-sea creature.
Well, I'm not entirely sure
about these theories,
so perhaps I'd better
take a closer look.
Here goes.
Wow, they are amazing.
So much bigger underwater
and yet still so graceful.
But they don't seem
to mind my presence there,
they just gently nibble away
at that sea grass.
It's not hard to imagine,
is it, how a sailor,
far from home
after a long voyage
and maybe after
a little tot of rum,
looks out and sees a manatee
and in his mind's eye,
there's a mermaid.
A beautiful mermaid.
All right, perhaps
a large tot of rum.
the mermaid myth lives on.
Fantastic beasts
don't just lurk on land
or slither through seas.
From Pegasus...
to the hippogriff...
to Thunderbirds...
many magical creatures
can be found on the wing,
soaring across the skies.
Oh, good Lord. Chris, hello.
- Hi.
- [gasps]
What's the name
of this extraordinary creature?
This is Nikita, and she's
a Steller's sea eagle.
[Fry] A sea eagle.
So beautiful.
And that beak, is it
a specialist beak for fish?
That's a serious beak.
It's designed
for cutting flesh,
but a fish pulled out
of the water at minus 40
is gonna be a block of ice
within a couple of moments,
- so that's what that tin opener is for.
- Oh.
And those trousers,
I love those,
shaggy, shaggy feet.
On the soles of her feet,
she's got almost like Velcro,
to enable her to grab hold
of slippery fish
- and pull them off the surface of the water. Yeah.
- Of course.
As you can see, Nikita
is no myth, she's all reality.
Steller's sea eagles,
they're amongst the largest
eagles in the world,
and they're formidable
There have been stories
over the years, of course,
of eagles attacking humans,
which is why, perhaps,
it isn't surprising
that stories through the ages
have been passed down
of mythical winged beasts
with enormous claws and beaks.
And with that in mind,
it's time for me
to get a bit closer,
so wish me luck.
[Chris] Right, Stephen, so,
essentially it needs
to be upright.
- Oh, like that. Right.
- Yeah.
And now, I'm gonna place
the bird on your arm on the top
and then you've just gotta
keep your arm nice and level
and just slightly
away from your body.
It's gonna be heavy.
- So I'm now gonna give you the weight.
- [eagle squawks]
Oh, my heavens.
Enormous as you are,
you'd be small compared
to some of your ancestors,
both real and mythical.
One flying beast that appears
in ancient tales
from the Middle East
is known as the Roc.
Described as an enormous eagle,
it was said to be strong enough
to carry off an elephant.
Inspiration for the Roc
is believed to have come
from the eggs of a real bird,
which lived in Madagascar
over 40,000 years ago.
One of the largest
flightless birds
ever to have existed,
at over three meters tall
and weighing 500 kilos.
Also known
as the Elephant Bird,
it went extinct around
a thousand years ago.
But its eggs were so huge,
as large as 150 chicken eggs,
that people thought they must
belong to the legendary Roc.
Aren't you amazing?
Well, I think it's time you had her back.
- [chuckles]
- So I'll hand her over to you.
Perhaps, it's the very
of flight itself,
that has inspired these stories
of legendary flying creatures,
over the centuries.
That, and a fear
of the very powerful
and very real birds themselves.
nobody's told Nikita
how delicious I am,
so I think I'm safe.
[Fry] Stories
of fantastical beasts
aren't just a thing
of the past.
And there's one
world-famous legend
that is alive and well
here in Scotland...
The Loch Ness Monster.
The origin story
of this iconic monster
can be traced back
to around 1500 years ago
when Irish missionaries
and Columba
was said
to have encountered a beast
in the River Ness.
Over the years,
thousands of people have
claimed to see Nessie
and there have been
numerous attempts
to find conclusive proof
of its existence.
But none have been
as promising,
or as high-tech,
as recent efforts.
I've traveled to the banks
of this legendary Loch...
- Stephen, come aboard.
- [Fry] Hello. meet Adrian Shine,
a naturalist involved in this
exciting new development.
Why do you think that there's
a special quality to Loch Ness?
I mean, why has it retained
such mystique over the decades?
Well, it's fascinating.
It is probably, arguably,
the most famous lake
in the world,
- and it's quite large.
- Yeah.
You could put the whole human
population of the world into it
- at least three times over.
- Seriously?
- It is quite deep.
- Good gracious. Wow.
[Shine] And it's hostile.
So in that respect,
it qualifies as a lost world,
and we need lost worlds
to make our mythical creatures
at least credible.
- Or more credible.
- Yeah, so it's big enough
for the,
if there were a monster,
it could have credibly hidden
for all this time.
The story of Nessie
evolved over centuries,
but it was in the 1930s
that things really took off.
[Shine] That was when
the Loch Ness monster,
that we know
and love today, was born.
There's the multi-humped
sea serpent
and the plesiosaur.
- The idea of a prehistoric monster...
- [Fry] With the long neck.
...long necked,
four flippers, stumpy body.
We used to spend a lot of time
in trying to work out
what was in Loch Ness
with our fish nets,
towing things like that around.
Then we'd spend hours
and hours and hours
looking through microscopes,
identifying things,
counting things.
But now there is
a much more elegant way.
Listen to this delicious...
[both laugh]
- [Shine] Just a minute.
- What a lovely noise.
[Shine] There we are.
[Fry] Using a process called
Environmental DNA Sampling
or E-DNA,
scientists examined the
different types of animal DNA
found in Loch Ness water.
- [Shine] And there we go.
- [Fry] That's it.
My very own bucket
of Loch Ness water.
[Shine] That's right.
[Fry] There are
many different theories
as to the Loch Ness Monster's
true identity.
One that Adrian supports
is that it could be
an enormous eel.
Eels are an elusive species.
Much of their behavior
and exactly how large
they can grow
is still a mystery
to scientists.
One of the biggest species
in the world
is the European conger eel,
which is thought to grow
to over three meters long.
But some believe eels
are capable
of growing
to a much larger size.
Known as eunuch eels,
their existence
is somewhat controversial.
Usually, adult eels swim into
the Atlantic Ocean to breed,
after which they die.
But eunuch eels
are said to be infertile,
leading them
to remain in freshwater,
and continuing to grow
for many years,
potentially to a huge length.
So will the DNA results
confirm Adrian's suspicions?
Now presumably, it will take a
few days to get this analyzed,
but you've had
previous samples.
Well, we certainly think
we know what's in Loch Ness,
and there weren't any great
surprises from the DNA.
What have you found?
[Shine] Bacteria, plankton,
lots of fish.
No reptiles.
No reptiles.
- Sad that, wasn't it?
- Slightly disappointing.
Didn't really expect them,
to be quite honest,
but there we are.
But we got lots and lots
of eel DNA.
But, of course,
it would be the same DNA
for a ordinary eel
as for a huge eunuch eel.
An ordinary eel,
which comes into Loch Ness,
but likes it so much
that it doesn't go back
to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.
- It just grows huge.
- Oh, so it avoids the famous life cycle.
One of the things
that's so intriguing
is this latest DNA work
that you've been doing,
still leaves avenues open
to believing, doesn't it?
And that's the fun of it.
- Yeah. That is...
- Nature surprises us all the time.
Exactly right. Exactly right.
And so the mystery
of the Loch Ness Monster
Our passion
for all things magical,
has never been
stronger than it is today.
Many of the most popular books
and movies of our time
are based on myths, legends
and fantasy worlds,
filled with some of the most
extraordinary creatures
you'll ever see.
And now with cutting-edge
computer technology,
we can bring them to life,
like never before.
Now, behind these doors
is something
just a little bit special.
I've come
to The Making of Harry Potter
at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
near London,
to see how the Fantastic Beasts
of the Wizarding World
are brought to life,
and to discover
how the natural world
has often inspired
these extraordinary creations.
This is quite an honor for me.
They don't usually
let Muggles in here.
But where do you start
when trying to create
a fantastic beast
for the big screen?
Surely, a description in a book
can only tell you so much.
Well, I've come here
to find out some
of the tricks of the trade,
from visual effects supervisor,
Christian Manz.
Oh, now, hang on.
I think I recognize
where we are.
This is Dumbledore's office.
- [Manz] Yeah.
- [both chuckle]
Now, Christian,
I'm sure a lot of people have
heard of CGI as it's called,
do you spend your whole time
just looking at a computer screen
doing mathematical things
to create images?
[Manz] The brilliant thing
about visual effects
is it's a real marriage of the
creative and the technical,
and our inspiration,
particularly with animation,
is looking at creatures
from all over the world,
and make the audience believe
that what they're seeing
is real.
Have you got some examples?
[Manz] In the second film,
we had the Zouwu,
a elephant-sized,
really colorful big cat.
In the script, it said that
the Zouwu could travel
a thousand miles a day,
and that led us
to that idea of speed.
So here, this was a design that
bedded in for a while actually...
- The cobra-like head...
- [Fry] Yes.
...with a reptilian body.
We got to the point
of, you know, modelling it
and animating it, but we were
never quite sure about it,
it didn't quite feel
of our world,
and then somebody came up
with this design, this concept.
- [Fry] Goodness.
- And we were like,
- "Wow that feels bonkers."
- Yes.
And also felt very akin to some
of the Chinese dragon dancers.
The sort of ribbon, like...
[Fry] I've taken a look
at those too,
and I know what you mean,
and that exactly suggests it,
- that long sinuous, flowing tail.
- Yes.
[Manz] And then, kind of,
the cat-like face,
and then the body which
in the end,
lizards, was a lot
of our inspiration.
So from that,
we'd look at wildlife.
[Fry] So you've got coral,
and is that a variegated tulip?
[Manz] Yeah,
and a fighting fish,
and also we tried it
with the sea anemone.
[Fry] Yes,
that's so surprising,
'cause I can believe
that you might look at lizards
and you might look
at large cats
and things, but coral
and flowers...
And yet once you point it out,
you can see that.
What's so interesting, is that
the most ancient stories
of mythical creatures
drew their inspiration
from nature.
And the most modern
technological mythical creatures
that you create,
also draw from nature.
And I suppose, as long
as the lead times
and the process of doing
computer graphics is,
it's nothing compared
to the millions of years...
- No.
- ...that nature has to try out new ideas.
Yeah, I think that's one of our
biggest learning experiences, really,
that Mother Nature's definitely
better at it than we are...
- [laughing]
- But she's had practice.
- She's had so much practice.
- [laughs]
[Fry] But where on Earth
did all of this start?
When did we very first create
or imagine
these mythical creatures?
When early humans
began to draw,
we depicted the world
we saw around us...
the landscape, people,
and animals,
like this magnificent mastodon.
But we also began to create
entirely imaginary
creatures too.
There are examples
of these mysterious creatures
painted in caves,
and on rocks,
found around the world.
Some dating back
as far as 44,000 years ago.
No one really knows
why these images were created,
but perhaps the most
reasonable explanation
is that they were one of the
earliest forms of storytelling.
I wanted to know more
about this instinct
to create mythical creatures,
so I asked someone
who knows a thing or two
about telling stories...
author of the
Harry Potter books,
and creator
of Fantastic Beasts,
J.K. Rowling.
Why is it that we humans
have to tell everything
through stories and examples,
it's our great creative power,
isn't it?
I think about this a lot,
the fact that
we're storytelling creatures,
because to our knowledge,
- we are the only animal that does this.
- Yeah.
And obviously it was an attempt
I think to...
certainly in terms
of myth and folklore,
it's an attempt to explain
the natural world,
things people
didn't understand.
I am very interested
in story, inevitably.
I'm not just interested
in writing stories.
I am interested in why
we write stories.
I'm even more fascinated
by the fact
that discrete cultures
who'd never met,
- create such similar archetypes and such similar creatures.
- Yeah.
So we see the fire bird,
the phoenix as I called it,
but you see the creation
of a fire bird
throughout different cultures.
And what is that telling us
about what it is to be human
and what lives at the back
of our minds,
in our subconscious?
You often see this
in magical beasts,
that very similar beasts
have been imagined
- by, after all, peoples who are living among different...
- Yes.
...real animals.
We're talking cultures
across different continents.
And that fascinates me,
because that's clearly
telling us about ourselves.
And a perfect example
is the dragon.
- There you are.
- All over the world.
- In China, famously, of course.
- All over...
And what else are there?
Mermaids, it's
very interesting, isn't it?
Because where did
that myth come from?
Even in Africa,
these inland countries...
- [Fry] Yeah.
- ...of course, have great rivers...
- Yeah.
- ...there is a form of mermaid, the Jengu.
So again,
this is something that has...
has been created across
these different cultures.
Why were British sailors
imagining fishtailed women
when people in Africa were
imagining fishtailed women,
it's just extraordinary.
Do you think it's possible
to invent a creature
that has no basis in nature?
- I think it would be exceptionally difficult.
- Wouldn't it?
I created a creature,
in Fantastic Beasts,
the original book
called a Lethifold.
[Fry] Yes,
a nasty piece of work.
Now that is my worst nightmare.
I really had, there,
gone for something
- that would scare the bejesus out of me.
- Yes.
Although I was taking
the idea from a cloak,
when I stood back
from what I'd invented,
I thought, well, you've...
That's just a manta ray.
- And a manta means a cloak, doesn't it? Yes.
- There you go. Exactly.
So basically, I've invented a
manta ray that doesn't need water.
- And the niffler?
- Well, I was going to say the niffler, exactly,
so the niffler is a bit
of a favorite of mine.
It's a treasure seeker,
it likes everything that glitters,
so it can locate
treasure for you.
So for those who don't know,
a niffler
is a curious creature,
- I suppose it's a cross between a magpie, in nature...
- Yes.
...and a duck-billed
platypus in appearance.
- And a mole.
- And a mole, exactly.
But they used a platypus
to get the snout-like
appearance in the movie,
which I adored.
I mean, they ran these things
past me and I just loved it.
It gave it such an endearing
appearance, I think.
- So it's exceptionally difficult...
- Yeah. invent something.
And often nature
got there far better,
because you look at some of
nature's extraordinary creations,
and you think, well,
CGI will never match this.
You created your own world
that has its famous
and knowable characters
and creatures,
um, which must give you
enormous satisfaction,
and you've done it
by examining the real world
and the world
of the imagination
that our ancestors had,
all the way back
through earliest myths.
I was thinking
about the creatures
because we were gonna
sit down and talk about this,
and I realized
that half the books fold
without those creatures,
you know, they're so important.
- Hedwig the owl.
- [Fry] Yeah.
And then we move through
the Thestrals and the dragons,
and they are key plot points
and obviously, thematically,
they work in terms of life
and death and power.
And struggle and treasure.
But I realized when I really
focused on those creatures,
just how important they were,
and that shows,
we have a deep need, I think,
to be connected
to the animal world.
Fantastic beasts have been
with us since the dawn of time,
from the first imaginary
sketched on cave walls,
to the state-of-the-art animals
that we see
on our big screens today,
they are a fundamental part
of our own history.
[Fawkes squawking]
Our endless fascination
with magical animals
and our instinctive curiosity
about the world around us
could even lead
to the discovery
of entirely new species...
If we keep our eyes
and our minds open,
who knows
what might be out there?
The world is a magical place.
Fantastic Beasts show
there are still so many things
to discover.
[instrumental music