Unraveling the Permian Extinction

Digging up the secrets of an ancient mass extinction

250 million years ago, an event occurred that wiped out over 90% of Earth's species. It was the greatest mass extinction the planet has ever known, also referred to as the Permian-Triassic boundary. New research points the blame in an unexpected direction -- a "super-continent." Prior to this Great Dying, the continents had joined to form one giant landmass, drastically altering the earth's magnetic field. Far more cosmic rays rained down, causing global cooling, a "plume winter." This documentary follows research at a volcano in Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley and a cutting-edge excavation survey in Oman. The investigation starts from the bowels of the earth and leads us to the far reaches of space.