Based on the collections of the Sedgwick Museum, this online short course aims to introduce the history and evolution of life, focusing on the most important and interesting events and specimens along with the stories behind their discovery.
1.BD – before dinosaurs: The Palaeozoic or era of ‘ancient life’ saw major evolutionary transitions – from life constrained to the seas to the first life on land, the first forests and vertebrates in the seas and on land.
2.DD – during dinosaurs: The transition from the Palaeozoic to the Mesozoic, ‘middle life’ or ‘age of reptiles’ was marked by the largest extinction in the history of life. The Mesozoic saw the rise of many different kinds of vertebrates adapted to life in oceans, land and air. The life of the time looked very different from what had gone before or what was to come and many of these Mesozoic groups are now extinct eg the non-avian dinosaurs, the marine ichthyosaurs and flying pterosaurs.
3.AD – after the dinosaurs: again the transition from the ‘age of reptiles’ to the Cenozoic, ‘recent life’ or ‘age of mammals’ was marked by another major extinction event. The Cenozoic was marked by extraordinary bursts of evolution in mammals, birds, bony fish, flowering plants and insects.