Extinctions
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Extinctions

2011, Science  -   21 Comments
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Ratings: 5.70/10 from 27 users.

ExtinctionsMore than 90 percent of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. As new species evolve to fit ever changing ecological niches, older species fade away.

But the rate of extinction is far from constant. At least a handful of times in the last 500 million years, 50 to more than 90 percent of all species on Earth have disappeared in a geological blink of the eye.

Though these mass extinctions are deadly events, they open up the planet for new life-forms to emerge. Dinosaurs appeared after one of the biggest mass extinction events on Earth, the Permian-Triassic extinction about 250 million years ago.

The most studied mass extinction, between the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods about 65 million years ago, killed off the dinosaurs and made room for mammals to rapidly diversify and evolve.

The causes of these mass extinction events are unsolved mysteries, though volcanic eruptions and the impacts of large asteroids or comets are prime suspects in many of the cases. Both would eject tons of debris into the atmosphere, darkening the skies for at least months on end.

Starved of sunlight, plants and plant-eating creatures would quickly die. Space rocks and volcanoes could also unleash toxic and heat-trapping gases that—once the dust settled—enable runaway global warming.

New evidence suggests we might be heading into an abrupt climate change on Earth - one powerful enough to cause mass extinctions.

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ned4775
ned4775
11 years ago

How could dinos evolve into birds if they we,re wiped out ?

ned4775
ned4775
11 years ago

Did anyone notice the impact was shown impacting baca california although it was said the impact was the NW yucatan Penn.

mahonhouse
mahonhouse
11 years ago

HOW CAN THERE BE NOTHING ABOUT POLE SHIFT ON THIS DOC?

Stan Eicher
Stan Eicher
11 years ago

concept of Armageddon = fear of extinction

right?

southab403
southab403
11 years ago

Hi Icculus,

No doubt we humans are contributing to and accelerating a natural phenomenon which has happened thousands of times (namely global warming), but I find it a big stretch to compare the almost total destruction of the earth that happened due to a massive meteor strike or the vicious upwelling of the earth's core to our slow steady burning of fossil fuels.

To me, we are part and parcel of the planet and contribute to it's evolution. Humans are making huge mistakes in our lack of oversight and greedy consummation of resources, but 'we' aren't going to kill off 90 to 99% of life on earth by the slow steady burning of fossil fuels.

Life will evolve, with or without us.

dufas_duck
dufas_duck
11 years ago

Erase 95 percent of humanity....must warm the cockles of Ted Turner and Bill Gates...

Their stated answer to AGW is to eliminate most of the human population and the remainder live as humans did in the 17th century but before we go, give them your money....

Jack1952
Jack1952
11 years ago

This is a fascinating topic but you don't have to keep me interested by trying to scare the "h" out of me. I find films about ancient history and science compelling on their own merit and not how it might affect my life. Learning does not have to be coupled with entertainment...dubious entertainment in this case.

Nicola-Jane Wiseman
Nicola-Jane Wiseman
11 years ago

"Could we survive a wipeout?" The dictionary definition of wipeout is 'complete destruction' so my best guess is, nope.

Teddy Mcd
Teddy Mcd
11 years ago

If you suffer from cosmo-phobia -you might not want to watch this one. Nevertheless a great doc - easy to understand.

Christian Klinckwort Guerrero
Christian Klinckwort Guerrero
11 years ago

Cientific based, no doubt. Good. But one thing, (comparing withh BBC) I do not like the fatalistic Hollywood (Disney) language

southab403
southab403
11 years ago

I really liked that this film looked into past extinction events, and learned of some of the newer research that can explain what and why they happened. I didn't appreciate why they had to put the "fear factor" into the film. OH MY GOD, this could happen to us and wipe us out! (Poor humans, us).

Also, although not heavily played, the suggestion that we (humans) are somehow tipping the balance of glactic, planetary, and cyclic weather events by existing in our state of life on this planet in a way as to a be responsible for such a catastrophic event as suggested in the film, is a bit ridiculous.

Otherwise, quite enjoyable.

John Krisfalusci
John Krisfalusci
11 years ago

And guess what? When we Humans, become extinct sometime in the future, there will be NEW life-forms to take our spot and move on from there. And maybe one day , looooong after we are forgotten, a new species will wonder what happened to us? It's a cycle really, just takes Millions and Millions of years in this case; for most of us cannot comprehend that simple idea! Just to let you know because at this point Religion has NO use! Trust me..^_^