The Day The Earth Nearly Died
|The Day The Earth Nearly Died|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||about 49 minutes|
|Original channel||BBC Two|
|Original airing||5 December 2002|
The Day The Earth Nearly Died is a British documentary produced by BBC to the science and philosophy series Horizon in 2002. The program focuses on the mystery of the Permian extinction, which scientists believe killed over 90% of all life on earth at the end of the Permian, some 250 million years ago. The program features scientists like Adrian Jones, Vincent Courtillot, Peter Ward, Michael Benton, Michael Rampino and others.
The program features palaeontologists and other scientists as they try to find clues to the great extinction. In the program, it is argued that the Permian extinction came in 3 stages; the first was caused by volcanic activity in the great Siberian Traps. This is proposed to have cause global warming, which in turn killed much of the life on land. Second, it warmed up the sea, which killed much of the marine life. As the sea became warmer, the ocean floor released a massive amount of methane. As the methane reached the atmosphere, the earth became even warmer, which led to the extinction of even more lifeforms on land. In the program, the extinction is argued to have lasted less than 1 million years.
Just at the end of the program, the narrator talks about the dicynodont Lystrosaurus, explaining that it is believed to be one of the few therapsids to survive the great extinction. It is said that this was important, as Lystrosaurus, according to the narrator, was ancestral to all mammals, even humans. The truth is that paleontologists do not regard any of the dicynodonts as ancestors to mammals. Therapsids: Dicynodon Dinogorgon Lystrosaurus
- Hoffmann J.H. (2000), “When life nearly came to an end”, National Geographic 198(3): p. 100-113.
- The Day The Earth Nearly Died, www.bbc.co.uk.