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Earth | Preview (BBC Two)

This ground-breaking 5 x 60 series for BBC Two and iPlayer tells the astonishing four and a half billion year story of the planet we call home: Earth.

Chris Packham uses the latest science to take viewers on a journey through Earth’s most epic moments - a jaw-dropping catalogue of dramatic upheaval from the first seconds of the planet’s existence to the arrival of its most impactful inhabitants, us.

From massive asteroid bombardments to extreme changes in climate and collisions of whole continents, immersive cutting-edge CGI allows us to witness the critical moments when Earth’s future, and the life it nurtured, hung in the balance.

Each episode tells the story of a pivotal epoch as evolving landscapes and ecosystems faced seemingly insurmountable challenges and breath-taking transitions, including the formation of our life-sustaining atmosphere, the era of lava lakes the size of Australia, and the catastrophic freezing of the entire planet.

This awe-inspiring story can only now be told in such detail thanks to the amazing work of scientists across the world. Our team consulted with over two hundred leading palaeontologists, geologists, climatologists and other specialists, as well scouring thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journals to recreate the landscape and life that existed millions and even billions of years ago.

Combined with Chris’s deep knowledge of our contemporary natural world, this epic story illuminates just how special our planet is and shines a new light on the challenges we face today.

In Inferno, Chris Packham explores one of the darkest periods in Earth’s history: the worst mass extinction the planet has ever seen, when as much as 90% of all species died, 252 million years ago. This extraordinary moment in Earth’s history took life to the brink, wreaking havoc and destruction on an unprecedented scale. But somehow, life found a way to bounce back, and a new geological era ushered in the age of the dinosaurs.

The story begins with a massive volcanic eruption: the Siberian Traps eruption lasted for two million years and created enough lava field to cover an area the size of Australia.

Life in the immediate vicinity was no doubt vaporized, but the fossil record reveals a bigger mystery – a strange ‘line of death’ in rock formations all over the world that indicates almost all life dying out, no matter how close it was to the lava field. Chris uncovers what the latest science reveals about the aftermath of the eruption, and the terrifying series of events that led to the global mass dying.

It’s a stark cautionary tale of how rapid climate change can cause whole ecosystems to collapse, but the fossil record also hints at Earth’s miraculous powers of reinvention. Chris discovers clues in rocky mountain ranges to one of greatest deluges in the planet’s history – a downpour lasting on and off for almost two million years that transformed conditions and led life to bounce back in extraordinary style, with the rise and eventual domination of the dinosaurs.

Earth begins Monday 17th July at 9pm on BBC Two.


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