State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Triassic-Jurassic extinction

  • Dinosaurs Took Over Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Says a New Study of Ancient Mass Extinction

    Dinosaurs Took Over Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Says a New Study of Ancient Mass Extinction

    There is new evidence that ancient high latitudes, to which early dinosaurs were largely relegated, regularly froze over, and that the creatures adapted—an apparent key to their later dominance.

  • In Ancient Rocks, Scientists See a Climate Cycle Working Across Deep Time

    In Ancient Rocks, Scientists See a Climate Cycle Working Across Deep Time

    A gradual shift in Earth’s orbit that repeats every 405,000 years plays a role in natural climate swings.

  • Amid a Fossil Bonanza, Drilling Deep into Pre-Dinosaurian Rocks

    Amid a Fossil Bonanza, Drilling Deep into Pre-Dinosaurian Rocks

    On a high ridge in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, paleontologist Paul Olsen sits on the fallen trunk of a 215-million-year-old tree, now turned to stone. The tree once loomed 70 or 80 feet above a riverine landscape teeming with fish, turtles, giant crocodilians and tiny, early species of dinosaurs.

  • Photo Essay: Unearthing the Lost World Below a Petrified Forest

    Photo Essay: Unearthing the Lost World Below a Petrified Forest

    In Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, researchers are scouring the fossil-rich surface and drilling deep into ancient rocks to learn what happened during the late Triassic, some 201 million to 235 million years ago.

  • Seeking the Deadly Roots of the Dinosaurs’ Ascent

    Seeking the Deadly Roots of the Dinosaurs’ Ascent

    Over the past 450 million years, life on earth has undergone at least five great extinctions, when biological activity nosedived and dominant groups of creatures disappeared. The final one (so far) was 65 million years ago, when it appears that a giant meteorite brought fires, shock waves and tsunamis, then drastically altered the climate. That killed off…

  • Along an Ancient Coast, Clues to a Global Extinction

    Along an Ancient Coast, Clues to a Global Extinction

    Wave-washed sea cliffs along the coasts of western England and Wales are home to spectacular assemblages of rocks and fossils that may hold keys to understanding a sudden global extinction 201.4 million years ago that cleared the way for the rapid evolution of dinosaurs. Paleontologist Paul Olsen and geologist Dennis Kent of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty…

  • The Triassic and Today: Hinge Points in Earth’s History

    The Triassic and Today: Hinge Points in Earth’s History

    Paleontologist Paul Olsen has been investigating the causes of Triassic-Jurassic extinction–a turning point in earth’s history that wiped out many life forms and started the reign of dinosaurs. More than 200 million years separate us from this catastrophe (also called the End-Triassic Extinction), but it could contain some lessons for us today, says Olsen.  For…

  • Drilling into the Jurassic in New Jersey

    Drilling into the Jurassic in New Jersey

    One hour from New York City, where the suburbs of New Jersey give way to farms, a team of scientists are drilling for ancient rocks on the edge of a cornfield. The rocks hold clues about what the earth was like about 201 million years ago,during the great extinction that allowed dinosaurs to dominate. Listen…

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

  • Dinosaurs Took Over Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Says a New Study of Ancient Mass Extinction

    Dinosaurs Took Over Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Says a New Study of Ancient Mass Extinction

    There is new evidence that ancient high latitudes, to which early dinosaurs were largely relegated, regularly froze over, and that the creatures adapted—an apparent key to their later dominance.

  • In Ancient Rocks, Scientists See a Climate Cycle Working Across Deep Time

    In Ancient Rocks, Scientists See a Climate Cycle Working Across Deep Time

    A gradual shift in Earth’s orbit that repeats every 405,000 years plays a role in natural climate swings.

  • Amid a Fossil Bonanza, Drilling Deep into Pre-Dinosaurian Rocks

    Amid a Fossil Bonanza, Drilling Deep into Pre-Dinosaurian Rocks

    On a high ridge in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, paleontologist Paul Olsen sits on the fallen trunk of a 215-million-year-old tree, now turned to stone. The tree once loomed 70 or 80 feet above a riverine landscape teeming with fish, turtles, giant crocodilians and tiny, early species of dinosaurs.

  • Photo Essay: Unearthing the Lost World Below a Petrified Forest

    Photo Essay: Unearthing the Lost World Below a Petrified Forest

    In Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, researchers are scouring the fossil-rich surface and drilling deep into ancient rocks to learn what happened during the late Triassic, some 201 million to 235 million years ago.

  • Seeking the Deadly Roots of the Dinosaurs’ Ascent

    Seeking the Deadly Roots of the Dinosaurs’ Ascent

    Over the past 450 million years, life on earth has undergone at least five great extinctions, when biological activity nosedived and dominant groups of creatures disappeared. The final one (so far) was 65 million years ago, when it appears that a giant meteorite brought fires, shock waves and tsunamis, then drastically altered the climate. That killed off…

  • Along an Ancient Coast, Clues to a Global Extinction

    Along an Ancient Coast, Clues to a Global Extinction

    Wave-washed sea cliffs along the coasts of western England and Wales are home to spectacular assemblages of rocks and fossils that may hold keys to understanding a sudden global extinction 201.4 million years ago that cleared the way for the rapid evolution of dinosaurs. Paleontologist Paul Olsen and geologist Dennis Kent of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty…

  • The Triassic and Today: Hinge Points in Earth’s History

    The Triassic and Today: Hinge Points in Earth’s History

    Paleontologist Paul Olsen has been investigating the causes of Triassic-Jurassic extinction–a turning point in earth’s history that wiped out many life forms and started the reign of dinosaurs. More than 200 million years separate us from this catastrophe (also called the End-Triassic Extinction), but it could contain some lessons for us today, says Olsen.  For…

  • Drilling into the Jurassic in New Jersey

    Drilling into the Jurassic in New Jersey

    One hour from New York City, where the suburbs of New Jersey give way to farms, a team of scientists are drilling for ancient rocks on the edge of a cornfield. The rocks hold clues about what the earth was like about 201 million years ago,during the great extinction that allowed dinosaurs to dominate. Listen…