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Mass Extinction: Life at the Brink is an extremely valid documentary that details two of the five mass-extinction events that have occurred in the planet’s history, therefore making a fairly compelling case regarding present trends: life on our planet Earth could become extinct someday. And it’s our own fault.
Evolutionary biologist Sean B Carroll is the film’s executive producer and director. He also runs a lab at UW-Madison. He mentioned that scientists have learned more about what it takes to turn the world’s ecosystems upside down. The documentary specifically specified the process during the time of the dinosaurs, called the K/T Extinction, and ‘The Great Dying’, which occurred 250 million years ago.
The documentary warns – as humans reduce habitat for other species and alter the atmosphere, we are pushing plants and animals toward extinction around 12 times faster than normal rates.
As we all probably know, the dinosaurs suffered from the most ironic fate when a 6-mile-wide asteroid crashed onto our planet and caused atmospheric disruption, hence making life for dinosaurs impossible. However, even prior to that was an event called The Great Dying that took place as a result of volcanic eruptions, poisoning the water and air and thereby killing 90% of the life that existed.
As far as the K/T Extinction is concerned, a chemical trapped in other rock formations provided the first clue in the dinosaur’s demise. The scientists tracked down evidence of the event in ancient rock formations. Carroll mentioned that chemical called iridium is rich in asteroids, but rare on the earth. It took ten or eleven years for scientists to find the impact site which is in the Yucatan in Mexico. Up till then, it was thought that an asteroid had caused the mass extinction. However, when that impact site was found, people understood the scope of the impact and what that would do.
Scientists focused on The Great Dying since this event was a direct result of global warming. They said the lessons from The Great Dying serve as warnings of how climate change can destroy the world.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence, however, comes near the end of the documentary when paleontologist Anthony Barnosky suggests a sixth event is already in motion, exploring changes in the atmosphere and a loss of habitat that are hastening the disappearance of species.