Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town

Monday 23–Friday 27 January 9.15 am

Saturday 28 January 10.00 am


In this six-lecture course we will travel back in time to some catastrophic periods when more than 75% of life on Earth went extinct. There were five of these so-called mass extinction events that occurred in the 3.8 billion years of Earth history, and we are currently living amidst the sixth extinction. For each of these events, we will touch on the extinction event and what went extinct, but our main focus will be on the survivors of each extinction event, and how they radiated in the changed world. The final lecture will focus on the current crisis that biodiversity is facing, and we will talk about predictions about what might happen in the wake of the sixth extinction.

Lecture titles

1. Survivors of the first mass extinction event

2. In the aftermath of the Devonian crisis

3. Recovery after the biggest mass extinction event of all time

4. The rise of the dinosaurs

5. The beginning of the age of the mammals

6. The sixth extinction: what happens next?

Recommended reading

Chinsamy-Turan, A. 2014. Fossils for Africa. South Africa: Cambridge University Press.

Chinsamy-Turan, A. 2021. Dinosaurs of Africa. South Africa: Penguin Random House.

Chinsamy-Turan, A. 2021. Dinosaurs and other prehistoric life. South Africa: Dorling Kindersley.