11/06/2020

How Algae Survived A Mass Extinction

11:52 minutes

four spherical cells, each with a singular opening. on the right of the four spheres is a diagram that shows how the flagella would operate
High-resolution scanning electron microscope images of fossil cell coverings of nannoplankton highlighting holes that would have allowed flagella and haptonema to emerge from the cell and draw in food particles. Credit: Paul Brown/University College London

Sixty-six million years ago when an asteroid slammed into what is now the Yucatan peninsula, it set off a period of near global darkness for almost two years. Scientists think a majority of land species went extinct during that time, but what was going on in the planet’s oceans? And how were these ecosystems able to bounce back?

In a new paper published in Science Advances, researchers say what saved Earth’s oceans may have been a type of algae that could hunt for food. Ira is joined by one of the paper’s authors, Andrew Ridgwell, a professor of earth system science at the University of California, Riverside, to discuss the little algae that could. 

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Segment Guests

Andrew Ridgwell

Andrew Ridgwell is a professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Riverside.

Segment Transcript

The transcript for this segment is being processed. It will be posted within one week after the episode airs.

Meet the Producers and Host

About Katie Feather

Katie Feather is an associate producer for Science Friday and the proud mother of two cats, Charleigh and Sadie.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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