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‘Mass Extinction’ vivifies the science of die-offs

Documentary explores causes of dinosaur disappearance, ‘Great Dying’

By
7:00am, November 21, 2014
cliffs in Spain

These rocks in Spain helped geologists determine what killed the dinosaurs.

Mass Extinction: Life on the Brink
Premieres November 30
Smithsonian Channel

Anyone with a passing interest in dinosaurs knows that the beasts were killed off some 65 million years ago after a colossal asteroid struck Earth. But what many people probably don’t know is how paleontologists came to that conclusion. Mass Extinction: Life at the Brink tells that story.

The hour-long documentary, airing on the Smithsonian Channel, explores the causes of two of Earth’s five mass extinctions: the dinosaurs’ demise and the “Great Dying.” That long-ago extinction, roughly 252 million years ago, saw as many as 97 percent of species on Earth disappear. By focusing on how researchers have pieced together these

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