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Every episode has an educational theme, introducing basic concepts of physics, mechanical engineering, and technology. The show debuted on September 18, 1993, on ABC. The premise of using woolly mammoths as a teaching tool for the principles of technology was inspired by a book by David Macaulay.
The show's (and lead character's) name is an Occitan word for "cave"; it alludes to Cro-Magnon, the location in France where the earliest anatomically modern humans were first discovered. Each episode features Phil narrating how a problem was resolved through simple engineering.
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