Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Mass Extinction – Solving the Dinosaur Mystery


  • Title: Mass Extinction – Solving the Dinosaur Mystery
  • Air Date: October 8, 2014
  • Series: Smithsonian Science How webcasts, which are designed to connect natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

This video features 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.

Teaching Resources

Mass Extinction of Large Dinosaurs and More

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science

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.

Life Science

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.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Earth Science, Life Science, Paleontology