Rise of the Mammals
The course of life on Earth changed radically on a single day 66 million years ago. An asteroid blasted our planet, causing the extinction of up to three quarters of all plant and animal species. The impact ended the Age of Dinosaurs and launched our age, the Age of Mammals. But our understanding of the asteroid's aftermath has been spotty. Who survived? How quickly did mammals and their habitats spring back? How did our planet recover from this global cataclysm?
Now a remarkable find—a trove of exceptionally preserved fossils from the critical first million years after the catastrophe—shines a revelatory light on what followed Earth's darkest hour. With exclusive access, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios has been filming the discovery since the first thrilling moments of the initial find in 2016.
Providing a rare record that combines plants, animals, and precise dates—a paleontological trifecta—the discovery paints a vivid portrait of the emergence of a brand-new world. Thanks to the vision, grit, and luck of the scientific team, we are gaining our first clear understanding of how our modern world of mammals arose from the ashes.
"An absolute treasure trove of rare fossils has been uncovered in central Colorado. The collection reveals the stunning speed at which mammals emerged and diversified once the dinosaurs were gone."
George Dvorsky, Gizmodo
"Corral Bluffs is essentially a flood plain where sediment built up for a million years, preserving a time capsule of both the environment and the life that thrived there."
Ashley Strickland, CNN
"Where the film shines—and offers something rare—are the moments when the process of science is allowed to unfold, revealing how experts assemble views of lost worlds."
Valerie Thompson, Science
A NOVA Production by HHMI Tangled Bank Studios for WGBH Boston.