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In prehistoric times, Tumak of the Rock People violently quarrels with his father and is banished from his tribe. After escaping from an attack by a giant lizard and a brontosaurus, he reaches an ocean and collapses on the beach. He is found by the Shell People, a tribe considerably more advanced than his own. They nurse him back to health, and when he kills an allosaurus, they treat him as a member of their tribe. But he fights with the leader and is once more banished. Loana, a young woman who has fallen in love with him, decides to accompany him into the desert. After witnessing a fight between a triceratops and a ceratosaurus, they make their way to the caves of the Rock People. While Loana is teaching Tumak to swim, she is carried off in the claws of a pterodactyl and then dropped into the sea when the huge bird encounters another of its kind. She makes her way back to the Shell People and persuades some of them to return with her to Tumak's tribe. But they are attacked by the Rock People, and the fighting ends only when a giant volcano suddenly erupts. As the earth cracks and molten lava pours over the rocks, many members of both tribes are killed. Loana and Tumak join the other survivors in beginning a new life as the shadow of a huge mushroom cloud darkens the horizon.