“The day the Mesozoic died”

| 22 Comments

A press release we received from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute:

HHMI Premieres New Film Showcasing One of Science’s Greatest Detective Stories

Film to Debut at NABT Conference

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute will premiere, “The Day the Mesozoic Died,” a new film that chronicles one of science’s greatest detective stories, at this year’s National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference.

The film retraces the extraordinary investigative work behind the stunning discovery that an asteroid struck the Earth 66 million years ago, triggering the mass extinction of dinosaurs and many other species of animals, plants and microorganisms. The Mesozoic Era, sometimes referred to as the Age of Reptiles, lasted from approximately 250-66 million years ago.

[You may see 3 short clips here.]

Sean B. Carroll, HHMI vice president for science education and the film’s executive producer, will introduce the story to teachers on October 31 during the second annual HHMI Night at the Movies at the NABT conference in Dallas, Texas. Following the film, Carroll will host a panel discussion with teachers attending the conference.

“This film will help teachers and students understand the amazing story behind one of the revolutionary discoveries of the last 100 years,” said Carroll. “It touches on important concepts in physics, geology, biology and chemistry, while taking students to key locations in Italy, Spain, Texas, and North Dakota. We believe it’s a story that can play in any science classroom.”

“The Day the Mesozoic Died” was produced by Emmy-winning filmmaker Sarah Holt and HHMI’s Educational Resources Group. The 33-minute film is divided into three acts to facilitate its use in the classroom.

The film will be provided to teachers at the NABT premiere and is also freely available to the education community for download or by DVD order on HHMI’s BioInteractive website. HHMI’s Educational Resources Group has developed an extensive set of downloadable teaching materials that will help teachers use the film in their classrooms.

HHMI debuted its first three short films, “The Making of the Fittest” series, at last year’s NABT conference. Those films address key topics in evolutionary biology.

“The main goals of our short classroom films are to bring important scientific discoveries and ideas to life and to illustrate the scientific process,” said Carroll. “The classroom adoption of our first three short films has far exceeded our expectations.”

Carroll notes that to date, HHMI has distributed about 25,000 DVDs containing the short films and there have been about 80,000 downloads of the films from HHMI’s web site. User surveys indicate that more than one million students from middle school to college age have viewed the films.

The short films have also garnered critical notice, winning the 2012 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s inaugural Science Media Award in the Short Film category; the 2012 Silver Telly Award in the Online Video category; and The Scientist’s 2012 Labby Multimedia Award in the video category.

Watch “The Day the Mesozoic Died”:

http://media.hhmi.org/mesozoic/index.html

http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/shortfilms/

22 Comments

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

We’re actually awaiting any definitive evidence for the Global Flood. You know, like flood sediment appearing at the same age point, the lack of fossils formed in situ (abundant), you know, honest evidence rather than pathetic handwaving.

Byers would find evidence exonerating the innocent, and claim that it proves his guilt.

Glen Davidson

If Byers is going to hijack a thread from the opening post, can he please be banished to the Bathroom Wall so the adults can talk? Letting him display his ignorance and refusal to learn once in a while is one thing, letting every single thread devolve into the same regurgitation and rebuttal of his idiocy is another.

–TDv3 One giant step on mankind

Traffic Demon said:

If Byers is going to hijack a thread from the opening post, can he please be banished to the Bathroom Wall so the adults can talk? Letting him display his ignorance and refusal to learn once in a while is one thing, letting every single thread devolve into the same regurgitation and rebuttal of his idiocy is another.

–TDv3 One giant step on mankind

Seconded. Only a completely dishonest, lying moron would ever try to claim that the magic flood was real, or that it explained anything. Byers never presents any evidence, never looks at any evidence, never values any evidence. He has effectively removed himself from the realm of rational discourse.

If Byers is going to hijack a thread from the opening post, can he please be banished to the Bathroom Wall so the adults can talk?

Sorry I took so long - I have been in class. But let me reiterate my plea: Please do not feed the Byers troll; I will get to him in due time.

I’m still not convinced that the Chicxulub asteroid did in the non-avian dinosaurs. The Indian Deccan traps supervolcano still is a respectable minority opinion. And it could happen again, if the supervolcano under Yellowstone decides to erupt again (it’s overdue already).

waynerobinson4 said:

I’m still not convinced that the Chicxulub asteroid did in the non-avian dinosaurs. The Indian Deccan traps supervolcano still is a respectable minority opinion. And it could happen again, if the supervolcano under Yellowstone decides to erupt again (it’s overdue already).

I am purely an amateur in these matters…

From what I’ve read, the Deccan Traps have been considered as the K-T boundary event…and rejected because the timing is wrong. It is, I think, worth noting in context, that the Siberian Traps may have been part of the Permian Terminal event.

So far as I know, the Yellowstone “hot spot” volcanoes aren’t known for flood basalts (the sort one finds in the Deccan Traps), and the oldest eruptions from that hot spot that I’ve heard of are less that 30MYA…way too late to be associated with the K-T boundary.

While it is unclear just what the situation is under Yellowstone, given the history of eruptions and plate movement would suggest to me that any future very large (“supervolcano”) eruptions would occur farther east than the current caldera, though I will grant that that would require “burning” a new path up through fairly thick crust. Still…plate movement and a fixed hot spot would argue that the eruptive activity at Yellowstone should decline over time and future “supervolcano” eruptions are less likely than they would be otherwise.

So far as I know, the Yellowstone “hot spot” volcanoes aren’t known for flood basalts (the sort one finds in the Deccan Traps),…

I’m an amateur at geology too. But the present models say the Yellowstone hotspot has left a large amount of flood basalts behind and relatively recently in geological terms.

wikipedia Columbia river basalt group:

In the middle Miocene, 17 to 15 Ma, the Columbia Plateau and the Oregon Basins and Range of the Pacific Northwest were flooded with lava flows.

Both flows are similar in both composition and age, and have been attributed to a common source, the Yellowstone hotspot. The ultimate cause of the volcanism is still up for debate, but the most widely accepted idea is that the mantle plume or upwelling (similar to that associated with present day Hawaii) initiated the widespread and voluminous basaltic volcanism about 17 million years ago. As hot mantle plume materials rise and reach lower pressures, the hot materials melt and interact with the materials in the upper mantle, creating magma. Once that magma breaches the surface, it flows as lava and then solidifies into basalt.[5]

and

In this case the Yellowstone hot spot’s initial flood-basalt event occurred near Steens Mountain when the Imnaha and Steens eruptions began. As the North American Plate moved several centimeters per year westward, the eruptions progressed through the Snake River Plain across Idaho and into Wyoming. Consistent with the hot spot hypothesis, the lava flows are progressively younger as one proceeds east along this path.[8]

The flood basalts go all the way to the Pacific and some are over a mile deep. It must have been hard on the local biosphere but doesn’t seem to have had any global effects.

science 14 September 2012:

•News & Analysis Mass Extinctions Before the Dinosaurs’ Demise, a Clambake Extinction? Richard A. Kerr Summary Most researchers think the dinosaurs, many plants on land, and much of the life in the sea succumbed to a huge cosmic impact 65.5 million years ago. But new evidence from the sea floor just off Antarctica points to a major extinction there a geologic moment before the impact. The culprit in this earlier cataclysm may well have been humongous volcanic eruptions in India—the same eruptions that some researchers have credited with wiping out the dinosaurs.

washington.edu/news September 2012:

During the earlier extinction it was primarily life on the ocean floor that died, in contrast to the later extinction triggered by the asteroid impact, which appeared to kill many more free-swimming species.

The latest data and thinking is that there were two closely spaced extinction events.

The smaller one was coincident with the Deccan traps.

The major one was the Chixulub impact event.

Mark Norell says there isn’t enough data to say for sure if the asteroid killed off the dinos.

As for the HHMI films, they, and many others, are available as DVDs–and they’re free!

As a long time reader, I must make a response to Mr Byers (I must be first)post. I can’t take the stupidity and complete lacking of critical thinking. So good bye cruel stupid world…click..click..ban

waynerobinson4 said:

I’m still not convinced that the Chicxulub asteroid did in the non-avian dinosaurs. The Indian Deccan traps supervolcano still is a respectable minority opinion. And it could happen again, if the supervolcano under Yellowstone decides to erupt again (it’s overdue already).

I’m more of the opinion that it was a combination of events, i.e., both the Chicxulub asteroid and the eruptions of the Deccan Traps, that lead to the scenarios that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs (and others).

Karen S. said:

Mark Norell says there isn’t enough data to say for sure if the asteroid killed off the dinos.

As for the HHMI films, they, and many others, are available as DVDs–and they’re free!

When did insufficiency of data get in the way of any of the trolls?

Dr Norell is perfectly entitled to wait for more evidence to accumulate. After all, the whole premise of scientific research is that we haven’t found everything that there is to be found. Norell presumably does not think that the “K-T Boundary” is a work of fiction by Susan Coolidge.

A very well produced and informitive video.

However, is the asteroid theory cut and dried ?????

While the video mentions very small creatures that survived the mass extinction event, what about larger ones such as crocodilia and sharks ? Why did the marine dinosaurs die yet the sharks survived ? Why did crocodiles survive ?

There was a BBC documentry (Horizon) a while back that cast some doubt on the giant impact theory, if I remember correctly.

I think Dr. Norell’s thoughts are proof that mainstream scientists really are cautious about their claims. I hear that Hurricane Sandy did some damage at his museum. Fundies will assume that God was smiting the place!

Norell presumably does not think that the “K-T Boundary” is a work of fiction by Susan Coolidge.

I’ve been arguing with a YEC on Premier’s discussion forum who denies the KT boundary even exists, despite the photographic evidence.

Creationists Paul Garner and Dr. Marc Surtees have told me they put the KT boundary at the end of the flood, though how they explain the elevated levels of Iridium is anyone’s guess.

Creationists Paul Garner and Dr. Marc Surtees have told me they put the KT boundary at the end of the flood, though how they explain the elevated levels of Iridium is anyone’s guess.

It’s amazing at the number of things creationists think were caused by the flood–even the ice age! (They only accept one ice age.)

Karen S. said:

I think Dr. Norell’s thoughts are proof that mainstream scientists really are cautious about their claims. I hear that Hurricane Sandy did some damage at his museum. Fundies will assume that God was smiting the place!

Based on the level of collateral damage, and the extremely poor aim (if a building in Central Park, New York, were the intended target) a strong case could be made that the real target was Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky. A list of churches (and other structures associated with religious bodies) that have been “smote” would make a good demonstration that the “Fundies” are not cautions about their claims.

Ian Derthal says, “Why did the marine dinosaurs die yet the sharks survived ?”

I found that to be an intriguing question that I didn’t know the answer to so I went hunting it down on the internet. Most shark species went extinct at the KT boundary. The subclass that describes sharks spans the KT boundary, but not the superorder and order. In other words the some tiny fraction of all the different kinds of shark that existed prior to the KT still existed after it. This tiny fraction evolved into myriad new species. But sharks as a whole didn’t make it through the extinction event. The shark’s survived? No. Not really.

So the real question is probably, “How come some few shark species survived but no marine dinosaur species survived?” Stated like this then the reason that I have read before now applies to this situation as well. Top predators did not survive KT. Smaller species had an advantage in a world that had an interrupted food chain. This is conjecture on my part, but I would guess that the few species of shark that survived were little guys.

Ron

Ian Derthal said: Why did the marine dinosaurs die yet the sharks survived ? Why did crocodiles survive ?

Could be they had different food sources. Or different habits that made one entire lineage more susceptible to a particular environmental change.

Could also just be our own lottery fallacy: pretend there were a thousand marine species, and one randomly survived. Whatever one that was, we would probably be asking “why that one” and trying to come up with a reason, even if the real truth was pure luck.

waynerobinson4 said:

I’m still not convinced that the Chicxulub asteroid did in the non-avian dinosaurs. The Indian Deccan traps supervolcano still is a respectable minority opinion. And it could happen again, if the supervolcano under Yellowstone decides to erupt again (it’s overdue already).

The initial, extremely prolific phase of the Deccan Traps and the Chixulub impact are both at the K-T boundary, as close as can be told. The iridium anomaly at the terrestrial K-T boundary and the megabreccia found in the Texas coastal areas seems to be absolute proof that the impact occurred at the boundary and is therefore at least related to the extinctions.

The Deccan Traps area of India was on a hotspot at the time (the reunion hotspot), but is also antipodal to the Chixulub impact. Shock waves radiating outward from the impact site would have converged at the antipodes, and potentially created the fractures which would have resulred in a massive eruption at the hotspot. We can debate whether the impact effects or the volcanic effects (or both combined) was the most responsible for the extinctions, but if this hypothesis is correct, the impact was the original trigger.

There’s also at least three smaller craters around the world that formed at this time, as well as controversial evidence for another just west of the Deccan Traps. Shoemaker-Levy anyone?

The Siberian Traps occur at or close to the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, but there’s also suggestive evidence of a crater beneath Wilkes Land in the Antarctic antipodal to the Siberian traps at that time period.

The Yellowstone hotspot also produces both rhyolite at the hotspot, as well as mantle-derived basalt in the trail behind the hotspot (the Snake River Plains basalts), and while the aggregate volume of lava is great, the eruptive rate was never as great as the first phase of the Deccan Traps or the Siberian traps. Therefore, if volcanism is an important factor in mass extinctions, Yellowstone (and Hawaii for that matter) just aren’t big enough to clean our clocks.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on October 31, 2012 5:00 PM.

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