Free Online Course on Extinctions: Past and Present


  • Course: Extinctions: Past and Present
  • MOOC Platform: Future Learn
  • Promoter: University of Cape Town
  • Dates: 5 weeks, starts February 5th, 2018
  • Work Load: 3 hours/week
  • Instructor: Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, Paleobiologist (University of Cape Town)
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: None
  • Costs: Attending the course is free. Verified certificate is optional and costs 49,0€
  • Register: here
Link: Click here to access the full text of the course’s presentation

About the Course:

Discover the diversity of life on earth, the impacts of five past mass extinctions and the prospect of a sixth extinction today. This free online course explores how life on earth has been shaped by five mass extinction events in the distant past. At present, biodiversity is facing a crisis, with the prospect of a sixth extinction event today.

Explore the five mass extinctions of the past

Each week there are discussions with scientists about how their research informs us about the biodiversity of our planet including the very first life forms; fish and tetrapod diversification; the radiation of reptiles and dinosaurs; and the rise of mammals.

We focus on the five previous mass extinction events that have shaped the biodiversity of our planet. The fossil record reveals evidence of species that went extinct during these mass extinctions and the new opportunities created for the surviving biota to diversify.

Learn with one of the world’s leading paleontologists

‘Extinctions: Past and Present’ is created by the University of Cape Town, and filmed on location at South Africa’s Iziko Museum, West Coast Fossil Park, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and the Table Mountain National Park.

You will learn with Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan – an acclaimed paleobiologist, author of a range of academic and children’s books on fossils, and former South African Woman of the Year. In 2013 she was awarded The World Academy of Science’s Sub-Saharan Prize for the Public Understanding and Popularization of Science.

What will you achieve?

– identify the impacts of five past mass extinctions have had on life on earth

– Debate the prospect of a sixth extinction today

– Investigate how understanding the history of life on earth helps us deal with contemporary environmental problems


Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)
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