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BioInteractive

Free Resources for Science Education

 
Short Film
The Day the Mesozoic Died

Summary

The disappearance of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period posed one of the greatest, long-standing scientific mysteries. This three-act film tells the story of the extraordinary detective work that solved it. 

Play Short Film
(Duration: 33 min 43 sec)

NEW! The Day the Mesozoic Died  has now been extended into an hour-length television special, Mass Extinction: Life at the Brink, which will air on The Smithsonian Channel Nov. 30, 2014.

   Watch this video on our YouTube channel!

The disappearance of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period posed one of the greatest, long-standing scientific mysteries. This three-act film tells the story of the extraordinary detective work that solved it. Shot on location in Italy, Spain, Texas, Colorado, and North Dakota, the film traces the uncovering of key clues that led to the stunning discovery that an asteroid struck the Earth 66 million years ago, triggering a mass extinction of animals, plants, and even microorganisms. Each act illustrates the nature and power of the scientific method. Representing a rare instance in which many different disciplines—geology, physics, biology, chemistry, paleontology—contributed to a revolutionary theory, the film is intended for students in all science classes.

"Intended for 'all students in all science classes,' this beautiful and well-produced video offers a glimpse into how scientists constructed an understanding of how and why a mass extinction occurred on Earth 66 million years ago […] The Day the Mesozoic Died is another vital resource created by HHMI."

—Steven Rutherford, American Biology Teacher, Nov/Dec 2013

Awards

  • 2014 Jackson Hole Science Media Awards, Finalist
  • 2013 Telly Awards; Silver
  • 2013 Medea Awards; Highly Commended

Curriculum Connections:

AP (2012–13)

1.A.1.a,b,c,d,e; 1.A.2.a,b,c; 1.A.4.a,b 


Supporting Materials (11)

Film Guides
The following classroom-ready resources complement The Day the Mesozoic Died, which tells the story of the extraordinary detective work that led to the stunning discovery that an asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, triggering a mass extinction of animals, plants and even microorganisms.
Classroom Resource
A worksheet in which students write down the evidence that led to the discovery that an asteroid struck Earth about 66 million years ago, causing a mass extinction. 
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students calculate the mass, size, and kinetic energy of the K-T asteroid based on the total abundance of iridium in the K-T boundary layer.
Classroom Resource
This hands-on activity requires students to “visit” different K-T boundary sites.
Classroom Resource
A hands-on activity in which students see first-hand the difference in foraminifera fossils below and above the K-T boundary.
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students analyze graphs and data on pollen grains and fern spores to form a picture of the living landscape before and after the K-T mass extinction.
Classroom Resource
A worksheet in which students calculate how much iridium was released, and eventually deposited all over the Earth, by the impact of the asteroid that caused the K-T extinction.
Classroom Resource
A short article by Dr. Sean B. Carroll detailing the discoveries covered in the film The Day The Mesozoic Died.
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students analyze the chemical data that led researchers to conclude that the K-T boundary layer contained an extraordinary concentration of iridium. 
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students read a passage and answer questions about the information presented, testing their non-fiction reading comprehension.
Classroom Resource
A text transcript of the short film "The Day the Mesozoic Died" from the Great Discoveries in Science short film series.

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The disappearance of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period posed one of the greatest, long-standing scientific mysteries.

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Vice President, Science Education