Extinctions: Past and Present

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FREE,
Add a Verified Certificate for $54

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FutureLearn online courses
At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions. Our aim is to connect learners from all over the globe with high quality educators, and with each other. We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, with plenty of opportunities to discuss what you’ve studied, in order to make fresh discoveries and form new ideas....
At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions. Our aim is to connect learners from all over the globe with high quality educators, and with each other. We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, with plenty of opportunities to discuss what you’ve studied, in order to make fresh discoveries and form new ideas. Courses are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life, rather than your life around learning. We are a private company wholly owned by The Open University, with the benefit of over 40 years of their experience in distance learning and online education. Our partners include over 20 of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, including the British Council, the British Library, and the British Museum.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
129 reviews

Course Description

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This free online course explores how life on earth has been shaped by five mass extinction events in the distant past. At present, biodiversity is facing a crisis, with the prospect of a sixth extinction event today.

Explore the five mass extinctions of the past

Each week there are discussions with scientists about how their research informs us about the biodiversity of our planet including the very first life forms; fish and tetrapod diversification; the radiation of reptiles and dinosaurs; and the rise of mammals.

We focus on the five previous mass extinction events that have shaped the biodiversity of our planet. The fossil record reveals evidence of species that went extinct during these mass extinctions and the new opportunities created for the surviving biota to diversify.

The threat of a “sixth extinction” today

Turning to the present and the anthropocene period, we look at how human behaviour is now beginning to impa...

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This free online course explores how life on earth has been shaped by five mass extinction events in the distant past. At present, biodiversity is facing a crisis, with the prospect of a sixth extinction event today.

Explore the five mass extinctions of the past

Each week there are discussions with scientists about how their research informs us about the biodiversity of our planet including the very first life forms; fish and tetrapod diversification; the radiation of reptiles and dinosaurs; and the rise of mammals.

We focus on the five previous mass extinction events that have shaped the biodiversity of our planet. The fossil record reveals evidence of species that went extinct during these mass extinctions and the new opportunities created for the surviving biota to diversify.

The threat of a “sixth extinction” today

Turning to the present and the anthropocene period, we look at how human behaviour is now beginning to impact the Earth’s ecosystems.

We consider the threat of the so-called ‘sixth extinction’, finding out how our actions are reducing biodiversity and threatening the survival of many species.

Learn with one of the world’s leading paleontologists

‘Extinctions: Past and Present’ is created by the University of Cape Town, and filmed on location at South Africa’s Iziko Museum, West Coast Fossil Park, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and the Table Mountain National Park.

You will learn with Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan – an acclaimed paleobiologist, author of a range of academic and children’s books on fossils, and former South African Woman of the Year. In 2013 she was awarded The World Academy of Science’s Sub-Saharan Prize for the Public Understanding and Popularization of Science.

The course is suitable for anyone with an interest in science or environmental issues. No previous experience is required. While scientific names are used, to for example identify extinct life forms, knowing these is not required to follow the course. We do offer glossaries and explain terms as we go along so you will be able to follow the themes of the course.

Reviews 9/10 stars
1 Review for Extinctions: Past and Present

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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 27 reviews
  • 27 completed
1 year, 8 months ago
The first course, where I perused all articles, took time to memorise the convoluted names and also download necessary images. Perhaps this is because of the cheerful enthusiasm of Prof. Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, who tried to impress upon me her own optimism, but, sadly was lost on my 'Earth shall always rebound, and, after all we are doing no more harm to Earth than to ourselves' outlook. Though this learning shall vanish, the faint aura of knowledge that Earth remains aloof from actual destruction, might cheer me in the long run. Shall be a memory of my first Geology course that immersed me into its strata, and almost briefly spurred me onto Dino 101.
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