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Course Overview

We'll explore the details of short-lived time periods in Earth history where one form or another of severe ecological change, or changes, led to the extinction of a substantial fraction of species existing at the time. Five such “Great Extinctions” have been identified in Earth history, prior to what many are debating as the “Anthropocene”and the associated Sixth Extinction. The course will concentrate discussion on the end Paleozoic (Permian-Triassic boundary) at ca 252 Ma, when some 90 percent of marine species went extinct, and the end Mesozoic (Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary) at ca. 66 Ma, when the dinosaurs went extinct and the mammals began to reign. Current hypotheses for these extinction events will be discussed and evaluated.It is likely that some discussion will involve the concept of the Anthropocene.
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