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Complete program description for educators
  Series Overview |  Show 1 |  Show 2 |  Show 3 |  Show 4 |  Show 5 |  Show 6 |  Show 7
Show 3: Extinction!

57 minutes, 8 DVD chapters

  Chapter 1. Prologue (2:44)  

Introduction to the show's theme: the balance between evolution and extinction

  • A brief definition of extinction and basic facts about species' lifespans
  • The natural process of extinction creates opportunities for new species
  • Are humans causing a new mass extinction?

  Chapter 2. The Mother of All Extinctions (9:10)  

Geological research into the planet's largest mass extinction

  • Uncovering fossils from the Permian period
  • Exploring the cataclysmic event that destroyed almost all Permian species and began the Triassic period
  • Description of the dramatic environmental changes that produce mass extinction

  Chapter 3. The Dinosaurs Win Out (6:04)  

Dinosaurs and mammals after the Permian extinction

  • The evolution of dinosaurs, the dominant species after the Permian extinction
  • The evolution of small mammals, minor species during the dinosaurs' era
  • Researching dinosaur and mammal fossils in the Gobi desert

  Chapter 4. KT-Extinction, Triumph of Mammals (3:46)  

The end of dinosaur supremacy, and the rise of mammals

  • The K-T extinction event: an asteroid impact that changed life on earth
  • Dinosaurs die, but small mammals survive
  • Mammals grow larger, diversify, and spread out across the world
  • Emergence of monkeys, apes, and, eventually, human-like primates

  Chapter 5. Thailand and the Empty Forest (13:19)  

Human dominance and the escalating rate of animal extinction

  • Are humans causing the next great extinction?
  • Exploring animal disappearance in a pristine-looking Thai forest
  • The disappearance of large carnivores, the sign of a failing ecosystem
  • Natural habitats and the relationships among plants, herbivores, and carnivores
  • Human destruction of natural habitats, a primary cause of extinctions

  Chapter 6. Hawaii and Biological Invasion (9:17)  

Invasive species, and the extinction of native life in Hawaii

  • The formation of Hawaii's unique ecosystem
  • Fossil research in a Hawaiian sinkhole: documenting the arrival of Polynesians, Europeans, and invasive species
  • Humans spread invasive species around the world
  • Two examples of invasive species: zebra mussels and brown tree snakes
  • The costs of trying to contain invasive species

  Chapter 7. Planet of Weeds (6:39)  

Understanding "weed species"

  • What makes invading species successful?
  • Humans: the most invasive weed species on earth
  • The accelerating rate of extinction as a threat to all life
  • In North Dakota, using one weed species to battle another: leafy spurge versus flea beetle

  Chapter 8. Return to Thailand (5:31)  

The health of the Thai ecosystem, and of our planet

  • Is it too late to stop change in the Thai forests?
  • Knowledge, the greatest tool against extinction
  • Can we slow the rate of human-caused species extinction and return to the natural cycle of evolution and extinction?

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