WEBCAST: Mass Extinction - Solving the Dinosaur Mystery

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring Dr. Kirk Johnson. In the program, Kirk explains evidence for what happened during the mass extinction event 66 million years ago.

Smithsonian Science How: Mass Extinction - Solving the Dinosaur Mystery 

Featuring Museum Director Kirk Johnson

Meet Dr. Kirk Johnson, a paleobotanist and Sant Director of  the National Museum of Natural History. See how he and other experts joined forces to figure out what happened at the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. While you may be familiar with the extinction of large dinosaurs, you might not realize that much of the other life on Earth went extinct as well. Join Kirk as he explores the extinction and recovery stories told by fossils found at the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota. Examine evidence for the causes, the consequences, and the aftermath of the mass extinction for life on Earth.

Watch a recording of the October 8, 2014, webcast above. The show aligns with national science standards

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Mass Extinction - Solving the Dinosaur Mystery Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS1 Earth's Place in the Universe

  • MS-ESS1-4 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old-history

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past
  • MS-LS4-2 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships