Theia Impact (05:57)
A planet about the size of Mars collided with Earth 4.5 billion years ago, liquefying our planet’s surface. The resulting plume of ejected material created an orbital ring before coalescing into the moon which likely made life on Earth possible.
The Late Heavy Bombardament (03:52)
Earth’s crust cooled 150 million years after the Theia impact. Then orbits of the outer gas giants began to fluctuate, disrupting swarms of asteroids and comets. Heavenly bodies the size of Texas pummeled the planet’s surface, with impacts continuing for 200 million years.
Snowball Earth (08:42)
Methane-dependent bacteria caused temperatures to drop 2.5 billion years ago, leaving the world covered with glaciers and freezing oceans to a depth of one mile. Scientists believe this occurred twice, each time resulting in increased diversification of plant and microbial life.
Ordovician Extinction (09:55)
The first and most mysterious of five mass extinction events occurred 450 million years ago when a mysterious cataclysm eliminated 60 percent of life on Earth. Scientists initially blamed another ice age for the devastation; but many now believe it was caused by a deadly gamma-ray burst that destroyed part of the planet’s Ozone Layer or cosmic rays resulting from a galactic bow shock.
KT Extinction (06:55)
Dinosaurs ruled the planet for almost 200 million years before something killed them off during the KT Extinction, paving the way for mammals. One theory is that dinosaurs received a double knockout blow from rampant volcanism from the Deccan Traps in what is now India, followed by an asteroid impact near Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
Great Dying (03:16)
Earth was a world of mammal-like reptiles and exotic sea creatures during the Permian period, until 90% of life on the planet was extinguished by the most catastrophic mass extinction in history. Among the suspected killers was a supervolcano that tore Siberia open, erupting for a million years, spewing toxic gas and producing the greatest lava flows ever known.
Solar Apocalypse (03:25)
The sun will reach the end of its life span in about 5 billion years, bloating into a red giant star that is 200 times its current size that will incinerate the inner planets. However, animals will be gone before then, in 500 million years as our increasingly hot sun burns up the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is necessary for life to exist.
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