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On Sunday, May 8th, Curator of Paleontology Eric Scott will present a lecture at the San Bernardino County Museum discussing mass extinction events through time. His talk, "Death from Outer Space!" is free with museum general admission.

Life on Earth is more than 3 1/2 billion years old. Periodically during this immense span of deep time, life on Earth has suffered terrible losses, where vast numbers of living creatures were snuffed out in a geological instant. These mass extinctions are infrequent but dramatic hallmarks of the fossil record, punctuating the long evolutionary course of life with severe, often catastrophic reductions in animal and plant abundance and diversity. Yet only a few of these events, such as the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, are relatively well understood by scientists.

In his lecture, Scott will provide an overview of many of these extinction events, evaluating some of the various explanations that have been proposed to explain them. Did an asteroid colliding with the Earth kill off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago? What cataclysm struck the Earth 248 million years ago, killing off more than 90% of marine life on the planet in the single largest extinction event ever recorded? Was the extinction pulse at the end of the "Ice Ages" truly a mass extinction? Scott will review these events and provide up-to-date interpretations about what forces might have caused them, as well as exploring how studying ancient extinctions can relate to ongoing biodiversity crises in present times.

Eric Scott is the Curator of Paleontology for the San Bernardino County Museum, where he has worked since 1991. He studies the evolution and extinction of Plio-Pleistocene large mammals in western North America, with a particular emphasis on horses and bison. Eric's studies include both field and museum work throughout the western United States, as well as in Mexico and South America. He is an adjunct instructor in biology at California State University, San Bernardino, and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Paleontology. He has authored numerous research articles in books and professional scientific journals. Prior to his present position, Eric was Chief Excavator at the Rancho La Brea “tar pits” in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1990. Presently he lives in Bloomington with his wife, Kim, who is also a paleontologist.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays and holiday Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 (adult), $5 (senior or student) and $4 (child aged 5-12). Children under 5 and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. Snacks and beverages are available at the museum’s Garden Café from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit or call (909) 307-2669 / TDD/TTY: (909) 792-1462.

The San Bernardino County Museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is (909) 307-2669 ext. 229 / TDD/TTY: (909) 792-1462.


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San Bernardino County Museum - (909) 307-2669 - 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374 TDD/TYY: (909) 792-1462

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