Synopsis

The program begins with a brief overview of the Mesozoic Era. We describe the development of life from early the dinosaurs and more primitive plants of the Triassic to the flowering plants and apex of dinosaur evolution in the Cretaceous.

Next is a section describing the study of fossils. We cover the process of fossilization and describe not only bones but also other remnants such as fossil footprints, ripples, and invertebrate tracks.

Following this is a section describing meteors and their origin from comets and asteroids. The discussion of asteroids leads to details about meteorites and craters. This sets the stage for the final discussion of the meteor impact at the end of the Cretaceous.

The show then moves to a discussion of the existence of extinctions in the fossil record. We are careful to distinguish between background extinctions and mass extinctions, and to point out that most dinosaur species had vanished long before the final end of the dinosaurs.

Now all of the pieces have been introduced and we can describe how the puzzle was put together, starting with the iridium-rich K-T boundary and the work of Walter and Luis Alvarez. We complete the puzzle with the gravitometric studies of the Yucatan Peninsula beginning with Glenn Penfield. We do caution that while the timing is very compelling, new work may reveal other factors that contributed to the demise of these impressive creatures. This section of the show concludes with an imagined reconstruction of the impact and immediate aftermath.

The final section considers the possibility of a similar impact happening again today. We discuss the relative frequency of impacts of different sizes, noting the low probability of a massive impact compared to smaller ones. Several examples of small impacts are shown and discussed.

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