How do you sell a mass extinction without dinosaurs? How about giving it a catchy title, such as the ‘mother of all extinctions’ or ‘the great dying.’ Better yet, find a rock that came from space and identify it as the one that fell to Earth 65 million years at the end of the age of dinosaurs. Too often, the press (and, unfortunately, too many scientists) like neat little stories to explain complex events that transpired eons ago, such as mass extinctions.

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